Official Obituary of

Jimmy Neal

September 23, 2022

Jimmy Neal Obituary

Celebration of Life

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 
~Psalm 37:23

Jimmy Clifford Neal, Sr., son of the late Edith Neal McRae and the late Burney Neal, was born November 14, 1942, in Marion, South Carolina. After a chronic illness and a brief hospitalization, he was able to return to his home on Church Street and departed this life on Friday, September 23, 2022.

Jim was very proud of his roots and often spoke fondly of his childhood. He attended the public schools of Marion County and was a proud graduate of Palmetto High School, Class of 1960.  Known as Big 7, he was a well-rounded student as evidenced by his prowess on the football field (scoring four touchdowns in one game) and his classmates voting him best dancer his senior year.  He also was a school bus driver.  After high school, Jim enlisted in the US Air Force and was stationed in Morocco.  There he developed life-long friendships with his “war buddies” and continued demonstrating his athletic talents by being crowned the Spanish/Moroccan Heavyweight Champion for two years.

After his discharge from the military, Jim moved to Washington, DC and began his employment with the federal government where he worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.  His thirty-two years of government service in the intelligence field allowed him to combine his love of photography with service to his country.  For his work, he received numerous special commendations and recognitions (including his work for the search and recovery of the late Congressman Mickey Leland and Desert Storm).

Jim was a true Renaissance Man.  In 1978, he opened his own photography business, Jim Neal, Sr. Photographic Services. He also earned a degree in Mortuary Science from the University of the District of Columbia.  He became a funeral director, instructor, manager, licensed embalmer, and restorative specialist. He had many passions including traveling (48 states and 22 countries), graphic design, catering, magic and balloon twisting, and old school disc jockeying.

In 1965, Jim married his high school sweetheart, Clara Benjamin.  Jim was a man who loved his family and was the proud father of his son, Jimmy Clifford Neal, Jr. (Jim Jim) and daughter,Diedre L. Neal (Dee Dee).  Jim believed in being involved in his children’s lives.  He took them on road and fishing trips, participated in fun and games (including constructing skateboard ramps in the backyard), and shared stories and life lessons with his children.  Jim learned to play tenor sax as he encouraged his children’s music education by joining them in lessons with the DC Youth Orchestra. He also served as the PTA president and sponsor of the photography club at their elementary school, chaperoned numerous field trips and activities, and served as Scout Leader for Boy Scout Troop # 331.  His grandchildren were also the reason for the twinkle in his eye as he adored his grandchildren Allyson and Blake Neal, who affectionally called him “Boom Pa”.

Jim was no stranger to working for God’s kingdom.  He spent his childhood years at Effingham Baptist Church in Mullins, SC.  Upon moving to Washington, DC, he joined Allen Chapel AME Church where he served as a trustee and in the transportation ministry as the bus driver for the Allen AME Day Care Center and senior citizens on Sunday mornings.  Jim believed you should “preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” (attributed to St. Francis of Assisi).  He lived that creed through his church service and civic engagement.  He was a member of Pilgrim Lodge # 326, a political activist and community organizer, dedicated member of Friends and Alumni Association of Palmetto High School, and a delegate for the Democratic National Convention in 2007.  He never met a stranger and mentored young people who often referred to him as "dad".  He lived a life of service.

Jimmy C. Neal, Sr. will be greatly missed by many, especially his son, Jimmy C. Neal, Jr. (Donna) and daughter, Diedre L. Neal, granddaughter, Allyson Neal, grandson, Blake Neal, nieces Aprelle Hill (Ron), Chrystle L. Neal, nephew Robert Michael Neal (Christine), McRae Family, special caregivers, Abigail Graves, Vivian Rogers, Oreda Williams, Church Street Caregivers, and numerous extendedfamily members and special friends.


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Memorial Service
October 8, 2022

11:00 AM
Devotion Gardens
2931 East Highway 76
Mullins, SC 29574


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