The Neal Funeral Home’s history began on August 14, 1948 when the late John and Martha Neal purchased the funeral business from Mr. and Mrs. Harry Dennis. Their son Jack was 10 at the time and later their daughter Carla was born. The business was located at the present location of 825 Chestnut St.
John’s father, the late J. Elmer Neal, worked with John, Martha and son, John Wesley Neal, Jr. (Jack) to help with the start of their new business. The tradition of personal, yet truly professional service extended to all, began over 60 years ago. The tradition that began still remains through the generations, and they are all committed to continuing that fine tradition of caring commitment to families and individuals who come to them at a moment of stress and grief.
On June 30, 1949, the original building and land was purchased from the late W.S. (Stubby) and Kathleen Goodenough.
John W. Sr. received his Funeral Director and Embalmer’s license in 1935 and held them for 63 years. John W. Jr. (Jack) worked with his parents in the funeral business and operation of an ambulance service. They operated the ambulance service for 32 years and was the first in the area to have a licensed two-way radio dispatched service. The radio was installed in 1951. Later, a radio service was placed in the home of the late Harland and Frankie Brentlinger, in the north part of Clay County. John placed it there because of no phone service in that area. Mr. and Mrs. Brentlinger operated the radio for several years for people needing emergency service; calling back to the Neal Funeral Home for help.
John and Martha began expanding by adding the main chapel in 1959. John had also started selling monuments over 50 years ago and today they are still selling monuments but with a much larger selection of granite, color and designs.
Jack and Judy both graduated from North Clay High School in 1955 and in 1957. Jack received his funeral director's license in 1960 from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago, Illinois. He and his wife, Judy, also joined the family business in 1960. Judy started working full time, by her husband's side, in 1986 and is still working in the business full time. In 2000, Jack was honored by the Illinois Funeral Directors Association for 40 years of service. Jack then passed in May of 2007. He and Judy have three children: Mark Neal of LaGrange, Georgia, Julie Barnard of Barnhill, IL, Susan Beppler of Louisville; eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Mark received his Funeral Director and Embalmer’s license in 1986 from the Vincennes University of Mortuary Science in Indiana and joined the family business that year. He currently practices in the funeral business in Florida. Their daughter Susan joined the family business in 1992 as bookkeeper and is now the office manager and their granddaughter Amy joined in 2007 and is now the web manager and customer service representative.
The Neal family expanded the business in 1968, with the purchase of the Dillman Funeral Home in Louisville from the late Walter and Janet Dillman. Eventually, the Dillman Funeral Home was sold to a private individual. In June, 1982, they purchased the Linton Funeral Home in Kinmundy, Illinois from Robert Linton.
Currently the Neal Funeral Home has one licensed director employed, Robert Bruns who joined the business in 2005. They also have a wonderful staff of part time employees.
The Neal family is proud to be the oldest family owned funeral home in Clay County and to have had five generations working in the funeral service. Three generations being licensed Funeral Director and Embalmers. Family is a very important word in our language. Your family’s memories are important. “Our family cares about your family,” and exceptional pride is taken in helping families have a valuable and healing memory of their loved one.