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Neil Edwin McDonell, 61, passed away after a 15-month battle with cancer Saturday, surrounded by family. He was born in upstate New York, and spent his early childhood there before moving to Mariemont, Ohio. After receiving degrees in English literature and philosophy from the University of Michigan, he continued his philosophical studies at Harvard University, where he would meet and court his future wife, Margaret Moline. After finishing his thesis, he accepted a position teaching philosophy at Middlebury College. The distance from his nascent family in New York was too taxing, however, and he soon returned to New York to study law at Columbia University. After receiving his degree he worked as an associate then partner at a succession of New York law firms, before rising to the level of senior partner at Dorsey and Whitney. His work took him all around the world, where his expertise on international litigation and dispute resolution brought him the esteem and respect of his colleagues and clients. During his career, he never abandoned his creativity, writing poetry inspired by his life and travels and full of his characteristic humor and wit. After his cancer diagnosis, he fulfilled a lifetime goal of publishing his work, producing two volumes: The Ribbed Sand, a diverse collection of his work, and Distilled, a series of poems crafted as he fought his illness.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret Moline, and by his two sons, Adam and Aaron. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Homeless & Hungry Fund, www.templeisraelcenter.org.
Published in the The Journal News on Feb. 19, 2014