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.
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
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
You are in our thoughts. May your family and friends provide strength through this time.
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Edna and family. Although we were not able to come to the service, we are planning on coming to Minnesota this summer. We look forward to seeing you all then. God Bless!
We somehow missed the Obituary so will always be grateful that Earl's daughter called us, otherwise we would have missed the very beautiful and heart-healing service! Alex came to town to marry me and quickly became part of the (retired) musicians scene here in Twin Cities--Earl was very important in that! They became buds right away..Alex was so impressed with Earl's beautiful tuba playing! We are also very grateful that he and beautiful Edie found each other! Maybe all that hill climbing was good for him. I know Edie was!
Saying good-by is one of the hardest things we ever have to do. i have found that about the only thing harder is to regret that we never got the chance to say "hello". remembering all the "hellos" helped me through the final "good by". May your memories bless you during these difficult days.
To The McNeal Family,
I have many Memories of Earl and Vivien.
I introduced them while we were Ice Skating at Lake George in St Cloud. Earl
walked us home, me first and then Vivien.
that is when the romance started.
My husband and I were in their Wedding
along with Beverly and Lloyd. We've been friend for many years. We always tried to
keep in touch even tho we were busy with
My Deepest Sympathy to Earls Family and also to Edna for being there for him all
these years. Earl was a very Special person and will be missed by all.Now he will be with his first love.
Jean Richter Kappel
Hi Edna and all your combined family. Earl was a sweet man and I know he is greatly missed. I have been sending prayers your way. It is so difficult to care for loved ones who are dying. Well, at least the hard part is over. No more pain but peace instead. I think Earl was a very positive enfluence on the family and I know Bev and her sisters and brother cared for and respected Earl. I hope your grieving time is filled with love and support from friends and family.
I remember how great you and Earl were to us when we came up for Lisa's wedding. We had so much fun with you. Even though my kids were much younger, they still remember Earl and the wonderful hot dogs he would go out and buy for them. He was such a loving man. I am so glad he had you during his last years. You two were so cute together. I love you so much and am so sorry your heartache. Stay strong and keep loving,
Denise, Tim, Shannon, Josh, and Derek
Dear Sher, Deborah and Tim, James and Sarah, Lori and John, Peg and Gerry and all of your children,
I want you to know how glad I am that we have been brought together by our shared love of Earl. He has been a blessing in my life. I miss him so much as I'm sure each of you do. I look forward to our lives remaining connected.
Dear Edie Baron,(Cheryl Kartes'Mom and family),
So sorry to hear of your loss. I have heard so much "loving" comments about Earl and you, from Cheryl and Patrick. (A deep sigh)
You are all in my thoughts and prayers that this time of healing is filled with the loving memories from your last 20 years together.
Dear Sis Edi
I am so sorry for your loss.
Earl was a good and kind man. He was your loving partner for many years and I know you will miss him so very much.
May your memories of your life together sustain you now and in the future.
My heart and prayers are with you. God will help you to be strong during this trying time.
All my love, Karen
I send condolences to you and all of Earl's family. You will be in my prayers.
BethMarie, (friend of Cheryl's)
Edna and family, When someone you love becomes a memory,the memory becomes a treasure. You are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Dear Aunt Edna,
Just to let you know we're thinking of you and how sorry we are for your loss. Earl was a wonderful, kind, humorous person with such an easy-going nature. He always made you feel comfortable when you talked to him and you two complimented each other so well. We will always remember his smile, especially when he told stories of his band gigs.
We hope the memories you and Earl created together will help you through this difficult time.
All our love, Scott and Mary
Dear Edna and families,
Our deepest sympathy for your loss. We always remember Earl's warm smile. Know that we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. ~Sending our love to you.
So heaven has gained another "OOM PA PA" Sousaphone-tuba Player. What a wonderful man - certainly more so due to the love and care he found in his gentle woman wife and love of his life.Here is to the celebration of his being here in this life and the joy he brought to many. We salute his legacy in all those who surrounded him and whose live he touched. (George Packard, Cheryl's friend and your occasional guestroom occupant)
When one heart speaks and another heart listens, heaven smiles, and the angels pause to enjoy the conversation of love.
Keep speaking. I'm sure Earl is still listening.
our sympathy to all the family, Marv talked a lot about Earl playing in his band and fond memories.
His smile, the warm greeting, and the touch of his essence are embedded in your soul and heart. He is celebrating your vitality and gift to him. We all celebrate his contribution to our lives. Warmly, Catherine Tornbom (Cheryl's "sister")
So sorry o hear about your loss. You both has been kind and generous. May you be comforted by his warm memories.
With love and prayers,
Elsa Batica ( Cheryl's friend)
Our hearts goes out to you in your time of sorrow. May the memories of your time with Earl bring you joy and peace. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Beth and Judy, friends of Patrick and Cheryl
Earl was a gift to Edna's entire family. He was a beloved soul. Always eager to indulge the children, and put up with the idiosyncrasies of the rest of us. He was a role model of patience. He will be missed greatly by those of us who've known him even as those who've gone before him welcome him home.
May the memories of the happy times you shared with Earl fill your heart and ease your sorrow.
Nadine Bell (Cheryl's "Sister")
Earl was a wonderful man with a kind heart and a gentle soul.....Rest in peace, Earl. My sincerest sympathies to Edna and her children and to Earl's children. A wonderful man is watching over all of you now.
Cheryl and family, my with for you - and especially for your mom - is to FEEL around and pay attention to how this loved one continues to be with you. May your grieving be brief and your remembering be long.
Edna and family
so very sorry for your loss..sending "love" "strength" and "Our Fathers light" your way...
We will miss near neighbor Earl here at Augustana Apts. and pray for God's healing spirit to comfort you, Edna, and all of Earl's family.
Lois and Paul Eid
Dear Edna Baron,
I am a friend of Cheryl's and want you to know that I am sending my deepest of Sympathy to you in the loss of Earl McNeal your best friend and partner of almost 20 years. the two of you have gone through a lot together, difficult times, happy times, times of great hope, and of course as we all do we finally reach eternal life with God. We must live in the present with that goal in mind. My prayers and heartfelt Joy of the celebration of Earl's life are energy I am sending your way.
Lori and family: I am sorry to hear that you lost your dad. My first reaction was remembering how quiet and gentle he was and how we could never drag him into any silliness! Earl "The Pearl" McNeal is how we referred to him when we dropped by to spend time with Lori. He raised an amazing family of talented people - may the great memories comfort you when you are telling and hearing the stories of his life replayed from others. Best wishes Lori.
Many thoughts and prayers to you all. Much sympathy to you all at this time.
My Heartfelt sympathy to Sher and her Family.Take comfort in knowing that now you have a special guardian angel to watch over you. Jeane Sova
So sorry to hear of Earl's passing, he was a very kind man and will be dearly missed. I was happy to have known him. Rest in peace Earl! Debra Rogers