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Earl James McNeal

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Earl James McNeal

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April 20, 2014
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April 20, 2014
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April 25, 2013
Eulogy (shortened)

Earl James McNeal was born in St. Cloud, MN Aug 19, 1924 to Veronica and James McNeal. The third child and the third boy, his siblings were Don, Lloyd, and later Peggy.

Earl married his high school sweetheart, Vivien Willcoxen in 1946 and began his career at Northwestern Bell. Their first child was Sherry Rae, born in 1948. Janice Kay was born in 1952, Deborah Gay was born in 1957, James Earl in 1959, and Lori Ann in 1961.

Earl moved up in the telephone company and retired when he was 58. Vivian became very sick with cancer and died at age 67. In 1994, his daughter Janice was killed in a sky diving accident, and the grief he experienced was almost unbearable.

The sun rose again in 1995 when Earl asked Vivien's friend, and a co-worker 's (Tony Baron) widow, out on a date. Edie lived on the top of the hill and Earl lived at the bottom, a block away. Earl was like a young man falling in love again. He was filled with joy, laughter, and happiness. Earl and Edie spent 18 wonderful years together, with Edie taking care of him until he died. Earl was very much a part of Edie's family, and they looked upon Earl as a stepfather and grandpa.

Earl was blessed with the love of two wonderful women and all their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Yet there was one significant and profound love in this life. The Tuba.

In Third grade, Earl started playing the Tuba and he didn't stop until the fall of 2012 — 79 years. Beyond school, he played with Whoopie John Polka Band. He played with the Jolly Nobles, various dance bands, the MN State Band, MN Vikings, Dean's Dutchmen, and with so many more. He became known and respected as one of the best tuba players in Minnesota, playing polkas, waltzes, Dixieland, jazz, big band, classical and swing.

The Tuba is a background instrument. It is not often center stage, playing the melody. Earl said the tuba was a supporting instrument and the beauty of a live band is that it is the sum of all its parts. If the tuba stopped playing, we would know something was missing, even if we were not sure of what it was.

Earl lived his life like a tuba. He was steady, dependable, and provided the foundation for the rest of us to play our own form of music. Earl was unassuming and never desired or sought undue attention. There's no question that some of us wished he would step upfront and shout to the world he was proud of us, let everyone know he had fallen in love again, tell us all loud and clear "I love you". But a tuba doesn't sing the melody. The tuba plays the bass notes and drives the rhythm into our hearts where we might not quickly identify it, but it's there, all the same.

Earl's heart began giving way when he was forced to sell his tuba, because he couldn't carry it anymore. There were still many good times, but he was ready to move on. He died on February 12th, two days short of his anniversary with Edie, in their apartment, with hospice support. He leaves an amazing legacy with the many people who loved him, the many musicians who played with him, and the family and friends who will miss him and carry him in their hearts for many years to come.
April 25, 2013
Dear Edna and all of Earl's family,
We just want you to know how much we're thinking of you, caring about you, and wishing you comfort as you face your loss of Earl. May he rest in Peace.
Love & Light,
Jeaninne and Charlie Wilson
Suzette and Bob Fine
Martha and Glen Radke
April 25, 2013
Dear Edna and all,
So sorry for your loss. Edna, you've had far too many losses in the recent past, and I know this has taken a toll on you. It has been good for Edna and Earl to have had each other through these last many years. I trust that as a family you will all support each other as you go through these changes as well. My thoughts and prayers are with you all as you heal from your loss of Earl . We enjoyed our visits with him so much. Love, Penny
February 21, 2013
You are in our thoughts. May your family and friends provide strength through this time.
February 18, 2013
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.

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