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Hunter S. Neal

1924 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Hunter S. Neal Obituary

Hunter S. Neal, MD, passed away peacefully on February 23rd, 2014 in Simsbury. Born January 2, 1924, Hunter grew up in the Fox Chase section of North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Central High School. His parents, Hunter and Ursula Neal, imbued in him a love of nature, hiking, and birdwatching. Hunter was a Boy Scout during his grade-school years. After high school he spent a year studying at the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania, then joined the US Army during WWII. While in basic training, on a hot day at the base located in the deep South, some 800 soldiers were offered a choice between going on maneuvers with full gear or taking the medical training aptitude test. All 800 took the test, with Hunter scoring the highest results. He then joined the Medical Corps. Graduating in 1950 from the University of Maryland Medical School, his yearbook page read, "Typically late for New Year's Day, Hunter arrived early on January 2, 1924 in Philadelphia. He studied business administration at Wharton, engineering at Mississippi State College, and pre-med at Vanderbilt University, the latter under the added strain of Army regulations, giving him the distinction of attending more colleges without acquiring a degree than any other member of the class. He joined the class in the sophomore year after a summer vacation in the Merchant Marines wore on for twelve months." His year in the Merchant Marines included two circumnavigations of the world as a purser on the Liberty Ship Archibald Mansfield, with time spent in postwar Shanghai, Tokyo, and Scandinavia. In Tokyo, he volunteered to pose as a buyer of black market pearls in a sting operation conducted by the State Department. He performed this role coolly and the exploit was a success. During training at Reading Hospital in Pennsylvania, he began dating a nurse named Elizabeth Rarick. They married in June of 1951. With his Army obligations completed, the couple moved to Philadelphia, where Dr. Neal's rotation at Lankenau Hospital resulted in a junior partnership in the surgical practice of Dr. Gilson Colby Engel. In 1977, Dr. Neal became the president of the Delaware County Medical Society, served as Chief of General Surgery at Lankenau, and was chairman of the surgical department from 1986-1989. He retired from his practice in 1993, but continued to teach and work on an investigational review board for clinical trails. The Neals were a team completely dedicated to Lankenau and to the service of others. Elizabeth's organizational skills were useful in her many terms on different hospital auxiliaries, and Hunter was instrumental in the physical expansion of Lankenau's facilities while producing a surgical program of the highest quality. His motto had been, "The patient always comes first." During the 1970s, Dr. Neal and Lankenau's cytopathologist Tilde Kline published a series of papers in the Journal of American Medicine that resulted in the feasibility of the fine-needle biopsy method of cancer detection that is in widespread use today. Among his other accomplishments, Hunter was the surgeon for the Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey team during the early years of the franchise. He was a longtime member of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists. In 1957, Dr. Neal founded an outdoor activities club with a few other doctors who enjoyed hiking and fly fishing in Maine's Baxter State Park. Over the years, the organization grew into the Katahdin Medical and Philosophical Society, with over 250 members. The Society held both domestic and international medical symposia, almost always in locations near the trailheads of interesting hikes or the banks of clear rivers that supported populations of trout. The Society's annual dinners attracted keynote speakers who were celebrated scientists, philosophers, and explorers. In 2008, the Neals moved to Connecticut for health reasons and to be with their children and grandchildren. Dr. Neal was predeceased by his beloved Elizabeth in 2013, and is survived by his daughter, Heather Thomson, her husband Schuyler, and their son Andrew, and by Hunter Neal,Jr., his wife Amanda, and their children Una, Hunter III, and Emma Neal. According to Dr. Neal's wishes, during the summer there will be a memorial service near his beloved Mt. Katahdin. Gifts may be made in his memory to the Lankenau Medical Center Foundation, 100 E. Lancaster Ave., Ste. 564, Wynnewood, Pa. 19096, or to the McLean Health Center, Unit 4 Staff, 75 Great Pond Rd., Simsbury, Ct. 06070. The Neal and Thomson families are very grateful for the efforts and support of Dr. Robert Dicks and Barbara Dicks, APRN, and the wonderful staff of McLean's Unit 4.
Published in The Hartford Courant from Mar. 6 to Mar. 12, 2014
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