James Austin Neal
James Austin Neal died February 22, 2014. He was born November 23, 1935, the son of the late Charles Albert Neal and Jane Anderson Neal Cole. He is survived by his wife Margaret Leonette Dedmond Neal, their daughter Heather Anderson Neal-Stone, and her husband Charles Rivers Stone, Jr. (Chris). He was a loving grandfather to two grandchildren, Benjamin Neal Stone and Addison Ivey Stone. A sister Nina Jo Neal Carson and her husband Don, and a brother Charles David Neal and his wife Debbie also survive.
After graduating from Greenville High in 1959, Jim pursued his lifelong dream of becoming an architect. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Clemson University where he was active in campus activities. After receiving a commission and serving in the Army
, he returned to Greenville and practiced with various architectural firms.
In 1969, he opened a one-man architectural practice, which eventually became Neal-Prince and Partners, a thirty-person firm. One of his first commissions was to design the offices of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. In 1989, he moved his office to 110 West North Street and became an early advocate for and participant in redeveloping downtown Greenville. Noted for its contribution to religious architecture, his firm designed approximately 300 churches, including the Billy Graham Chapel at the Cove in Black Mountain, NC, and Bethany Bible College Chapel in Sussex, Canada. In 2010, his office merged with LS3P, a Charleston firm founded by a Clemson classmate and friend. With this merger the company grew to over two - hundred employees in six cities in North and South Carolina.
Active in his profession, he was past president of the Greenville Council of Architects and of the SC Institute of Architects and a board member of the National Institute of Architects. He was the third recipient of the SCAIA Medal of Distinction and was elected in 1997 to the national AIA College of Fellows. The consummate professional, he was on the national board of the Interfaith Forum of Religion, Art and Architecture. As an avid supporter of Clemson University, he was often a visiting professor and lecturer.
In further service to his community and state, he was a graduate of Leadership Greenville, chairman of the Mayor's Advisory Committee, president of the Leslie Meyer Developmental Board, member of the Winthrop Board of Visitors, designer of the1974 Greenville Arts Festival, member of the Advisory Board of Wells Fargo Bank, Chairman of the Board of Upstate Senior Living, and vice-president of Genesis Homes, an organization that provides low-income housing.
Since 1963, he has been a faithful member of First Baptist Church. He has taught pre-school children, chaired the Building Committee for the present sanctuary at Faris and Cleveland Streets, served as a member and chairman of the Board of Deacons, chairman of Pastor Search Committee, chairman of the Moving Forward Committee, and as a member of the Long-Range Planning Committee and Personnel Committee. In other denominational service, he was a member and chairman of the Baptist Courier Board.
A member of the Cotillion Club, he has also been a member and president of the Poinsett Club. His hobbies included aviation and running marathons.
An outstanding and versatile leader, he was often called the "velvet hammer" because of his inner strength and gentle ways. His employees called him the fairest person they had ever known.
A memorial service celebrating Jim's life will be held at First Baptist Church on Thursday at 3:00 with visitation following the service in the Activities Youth and Ministries Center (AYMC).
The Neal family wishes to thank friends and caregivers who have provided support during his illness. Those that choose to make a memorial may send them to First Baptist Church, 847 Cleveland Street, Greenville, SC 29601, or to Palmetto (Miracle Hill) Boys Home, 2709 Wade Hampton Blvd., Greenville, SC 29615.
The Mackey Mortuary.