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James Neal

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James Neal Obituary
James Ellerbe Neal, Sr.


James Ellerbe Neal, Sr. 81 of Greer, loving husband of Suella Clyde Neal, died October 3, 2011 after declining health.

Born in Silverstreet, SC he was the son of the late Mary Ella and John Eddie Neal.

He had a standout basketball career at his beloved Wofford College where he grew to the height of 6'11" and earned the nickname "Big Daddy". He garnered All American honors in 1953 and was NAIA Player of the Year. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Syracuse Nationals of the NBA where he played against the likes of George Mikan, Sweetwater Clifton and Bob Cousy. He helped the Nationals make it to the finals against the Minneapolis Lakers in 1954. In addition to having his jersey retired by Wofford, he was inducted into the Wofford Hall of Fame in 1980 and the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 1990.

After leaving the NBA, he was hired by American Enka Textile Company as a construction manager and played Southern Textile Basketball. He retired from BASF after 38 years of service in the construction and engineering field.

He was an elder with several Presbyterian churches including Oak Forest in Asheville, Fort Hill in Clemson and most recently John Knox in Greenville. His Christian faith and involvement in Enka, Clemson, Pendleton and Greenville communities was an inspiration to all.

He was predeceased by his beloved first wife of 32 years, Maxine Clyde Neal. He then, much to the delight of family and friends, married and enjoyed 23 years of marriage to the former Suella Clyde Van Doren. In addition to his wife Suella, he is survived by his loving family included son James E. Neal, Jr. (Suzanne) of Greer, SC, daughter Susan Dickens (Randy) of Chapin, SC, stepson Edward VanDoren of Landrum, SC, stepson Wesley VanDoren (Adriane) of Hendersonville, NC and step daughter Suzanne Gray (Elmer) of Athens, Ga. and 13 grandchildren and his faithful four legged companion Precious. He was predeceased by sisters Lucretia Adams, Carrie Lee Suber and Mary Cleland.

The influence and impact on family and friends of this gentle giant cannot be measured. All will cherish their special memories of him. His life by example, work ethic, athletic accomplishments, love of family, wisdom, enthusiasm for life, and devotion to God will leave a void that can never be filled.

The family would like to sincerely thank Cascades at Verdae for their care and love given to him during his final months.

Visitation will be at 10:00 am with a memorial service to follow at noon on Friday, October 7th at John Knox Presbyterian Church. A private grave side service with follow later In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Wofford College Terrier Club in honor of James E. Neal '53 at 429 North Church St., Spartanburg, SC 29392 or John Knox Presbyterian Church, 35 Shannon Dr., Greenville, SC 29615.

Cremation Society of South Carolina

Published in The Greenville News on Oct. 5, 2011
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