Eldon Dale Neal, 82, passed away quietly at his home on Orcas Island, Wash., on Friday, May 8, 2015 with family present.
He was born Feb. 25, 1933 in Abilene, Kan., the son of Daniel L. Neal and Nellie Louise Neaderhiser. At an early age Eldon and his family moved to Alhambra, Calif., and then to Bend, Ore., where he attended and graduated from Bend High School at the age of 18.
While still in high school at age 17, Eldon was accepted to join the Army Reserve and went to Ft. Lewis, Tacoma, Wash., for training. After graduating from high school he signed up for the regular Army and served in Korea as an architect with secret service credentials in design of airfields in Korea for daily reconnaissance information for service commanders. Ranking as a Staff Sergeant, Eldon stood up in the Signal Corps and was the designer of his Signal Corps unit’s shoulder patch insignia that is still used to this day. He also spent time in several places in Japan, including Hiroshima and Tokyo. Serving from 1950 to 1955, Eldon was “forever proud” to be a Korean War Veteran. After serving in Korea, he was stationed at Camp Claybanks on the shores of Lake Michigan.
While in the service, Eldon had saved enough money for a 1954 Chevy Bel Air. He had his father order it and when he arrived back he drove to Kalamazoo, Mich., to pick up his new car. On weekend leave he was a hired hand on the Gowell Family Farm in Rothbury, Mich., assisting with bailing and packing hay into the barns. There Eldon met and married Valda Pearl Gowell, and they moved out to Bend, Ore., to be with his family. They had two sons, Murray and Michael.
In 1966, Eldon moved to Orcas Island, Wash., to work with his father and brother in the construction business. He owned Edelweiss Construction, a construction and building repair business on Orcas until his retirement. Eldon had a passion his whole life for serving the Catholic Church from his childhood days as an altar boy in Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, Los Angeles, Calif. to assisting up to the time of his death with church duties in the St. Francis Parish where he was a very active member. Eldon was instrumental in building the new St. Francis Church in Eastsound. His hobbies included gardening, woodworking and building miniature scale models of boats and waterfront houses. He especially enjoyed his annual cruise on Holland America Lines with his mother and his morning coffee with friends at the Island Market in Eastsound.
Eldon was preceded in death by his father Daniel L. Neal and mother Nellie L. Neaderhiser. Survivors include his sons Murray L. Neal and wife Lisa and grandson Bradley residing in Ariz., and Michael L. Neal and wife Ellen and their sons, Kenneth, Daniel and Jacob and wife Shannon all residing in Virginia; brother Dennis L. Neal and wife Patricia; nephew Denis D. Neal Jr. and wife Kateri and their eight children; and his morning coffee buddies all residing in Wash.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 26, at St. Francis Catholic Church, Eastsound. Following cremation, a graveside interment will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, May 28 at Mount Baker Cemetery, Eastsound. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Francis Catholic Church, PO Box 1489, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 noting “Orcas Church” with your contribution. Arrangements are in the care of Evans Funeral Chapel and Crematory, Inc., Anacortes, Wash. and the San Juan Islands. To share memories of Eldon, sign the online guest register at www.evanschapel.com.