Gary Memorial United Methodist
224 N Main St
Wheaton, IL 60187
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1931 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
David Neal Smith, age 87, died January 1, 2019 at Balmoral Care Center, Lake Forest, Ill. Neal, as he was known to his family and friends, was born on June 10, 1931 in St. Louis, Mo. to David William and Helen Gladys (Canfield) Smith. As he was growing up, Neal's father worked in the dairy industry and the family lived in several cities, primarily in Illinois. From an early age he gained a love of music, and after graduation from Henry Township High School in 1949 he went to Illinois Wesleyan University to pursue a bachelor of music education degree. While at Wesleyan, Neal was not only active in campus music programs and the men's musical fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, but also appeared in campus drama productions. During a production of Truman Capote's "The Grass Harp" he became fond of a cast member, Elaine Spires, of Minonk, Ill., with whom he shared a scene. They were married in 1954. Neal graduated from Wesleyan in 1953 and went on to earn a master of sacred music at Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1955. He then took a job as organist and choir director at First Presbyterian Church in El Dorado, Ark. and two years later in the same capacity at Central Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Miss. In 1962 he moved to Elkhart, Ind. to take a similar position at First Evangelical Brethren Church, which later became First United Methodist Church. For the next 40 years at First Church he developed innovative musical programs for adults and children, including handbell choirs. Elaine frequently collaborated with him on seasonal musical productions at the church. Following retirement from full-time work, he continued as a part-time organist until 2013 at St. Thomas United Methodist Church in Glen Ellyn, Ill. Neal was active in local chapters of the American Guild of Organists. He was consecrated as a Diaconal Minster of Music in the Northern Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, and from 1978 to 1981 served as secretary of the conference's Board of Diaconal Ministry. After their children were grown, Elaine and Neal became world travelers, with trips and cruises to Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, China, the Panama Canal and Alaska. After 44 years of marriage, Elaine died in 1998. Neal moved to Glen Ellyn in 2003 to be near two of his children. He remained active in church and community activities, and volunteering at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. In 2018 he was recognized by the hospital for performing more than 2200 hours of volunteer service. He never lost his love of music, and to the end of his life was a Lyric Opera of Chicago season subscriber. Neal was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by three children and their spouses, Jim (Kim Stevens), Mindy (Walter Winkel III) and Brian (Parvaneh Shidnia), and six grandchildren. The family will greet friends at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 5, 2019 at Gary United Methodist Church, 224 N. Main Street, Wheaton, Ill. Funeral services will follow at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made in Neal's name to the American Guild of Organists Endowment Fund, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1260, New York, N.Y. 10115 (web site: https://www.agohq.org).
Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on Jan. 4, 2019
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