Neal R. Brendel
1954 - 2021
John A. Freyvogel Sons, Inc. Funeral Directors
4900 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA
Neal R. Brendel,66, of Fox Chapel, lost his last match against an intractable cancer with his wife at his side Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. Neal was born Sept. 12, 1954, in McKeesport, the son of the late Joseph A. and Olga D. Brendel. He was the husband of Pamela Rollings for 33 years; the father of Ross Brendel (Capel) and Kurt Brendel and the grandfather of Clara Brendel; and the brother of the late Dr. Timothy J. Brendel (Mary Kale), the late Kenneth J. Brendel, John S. Brendel (Janet), of Franklin Park, Joseph R. Brendel (Susan), of Wexford, and Maryann Brendel, of Oakmont. He is also survived by many fine nieces and nephews and cousins. Growing up in McKeesport, Neal attended Serra Catholic High School, graduating in 1972. He took up wrestling in ninth grade and was recruited by Yale University. At Yale, Neal met his wife, Pamela, during their senior year. They both attended the University of Virginia Law School, graduating in 1979. After law school, Neal and Pamela made their way to Pittsburgh, where Neal joined Kirkpatrick, Lockhart, Johnson & Hutchison (now K&L Gates), while Pamela joined the firm now known as Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. Both later became partners of their respective firms, and they married in 1988. Neal had a decorated career as a collegiate wrestler at Yale, concluding his career as an All-American at the 190-pound weight class. As a senior, Yale awarded him the William Neely Mallory Award as the athlete "who best represents the highest ideals of American Sportsmanship," and he remains the only wrestler to have won that award. After wrestling, Neal took up the sport of rugby, and he was selected to play for the national team, the United States Eagles, from 1983 to 1987. He competed in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in Australia in 1987, while remaining a full-time partner at K&L. He also led the Pittsburgh Rugby Football Club (now the Pittsburgh Forge) as captain and president during the Club's most successful years in the 1980s. He was the first national team player to serve as chairman of the USA Rugby Football Union, and he also served as the North American West Indies representative to the International Rugby Board (now World Rugby). Mr. Brendel was elected to partner at K&L in 1986 and became renowned as a litigator of large and complex disputes in courtrooms in states across the country. In 2009, Mr. Brendel transitioned his stateside practice and founded the K&L Gates office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Over the course of a decade in the Middle East, he developed an active practice in international arbitration and simultaneously built the office to critical mass in a strategic and highly competitive legal market. Neal retired from K&L Gates in 2019, concluding a 40-year career at the firm. He continued working as a mediator and arbitrator until his illness struck him down. Neal was an avid traveler, naturalist and sportsman. He cultivated native trees and plants at his home in Fox Chapel and enjoyed bird hunting trips around the US and abroad. He cherished his colleagues, friends and family, and will be deeply missed. Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at JOHN A. FREYVOGEL SONS INC., (, 4900 Centre Ave. at Devonshire St. Funeral Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Jude Parish, Sacred Heart Church. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be made to Serra Catholic High School, 200 Hershey Drive, McKeesport, PA 15132.
Published by Triblive Online Only from Aug. 27 to Aug. 31, 2021.
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Mass of Christian Burial
St. Jude Parish, Sacred Heart Church
Funeral services provided by:
John A. Freyvogel Sons, Inc. Funeral Directors
Sponsored by John A. Freyvogel Sons, Inc. Funeral Directors.
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6 Entries
Neal was the friend from childhood who inspired me the most. "Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." To Neal I say "Thanks for the trail you´ve blazed for myself and all who knew you.
Patrick McGinness
September 2, 2021
Natalie Boyd
August 31, 2021
Our deepest condolences to you and your entire family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this most difficult time. Sid and Ellen Zonn
Sid Zonn
August 30, 2021
Alane Rollings
August 28, 2021
My deepest condolences to Neal's family and loved ones. I met Neal several years ago in Dubai at a Yale expat alumni luncheon -- but I had been learning about his legend since I was a freshman wrestler at Yale in 1984. Neal had graduated years before, of course (1976), but Coach Bert Waterman and graduate assistant coach Henry Hooper shared stories of epic battles in the Yale practice room. I looked forward to meeting up with Neal and exchanging emails with him about rugby and wrestling while I was in the UAE, and he was always kind and gracious to his fan and "teammate"!
Daniel Evarts
August 27, 2021
Craig Davis
August 26, 2021
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