2017-09-07 / Obituaries


Ralph Dewey Neal Jr., M.D., age 79, a long-time resident and native of Grove Hill, passed away at Grove Hill Memorial Hospital on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. He was born July 9, 1938 and was preceded in death by his parents, Pearl Kirkland Neal and Ralph Dewey Neal Sr., M.D.

Ralph was greatly loved and is survived by his beloved wife of 55 years, Catherine Moore Neal; his children, Elizabeth Neal (William Sanders Sr.) Pitman of Mountain Brook, Ralph (Tibbie) Dewey (Sara Elizabeth) Neal III of Mobile, John Kirkland Neal Sr. of Grove Hill, Michael Moore (Stacey Elinor) Neal of Hoover and Camilla Neal (Adam J.) Handwerger of Fairhope; and 11 grandchildren, Catherine Kershaw Pitman, Margaret Fischer Pitman, William Sanders Pitman Jr. and Lillian Neal Pitman, John Kirkland Neal Jr. and Caroline Parker Neal, Thomas Jacob Neal, Michael William Neal and Mary Elinor Neal, and Elizabeth Burke Handwerger and Amelia Neal Handwerger.

Dr. Neal spent his childhood in Grove Hill. He attended high school at Marion Military Institute, where he graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1956. He continued his college education at the University of Alabama and thereafter continued into medical school at the University of Alabama Medical College of Alabama (now known as the University of Alabama School of Medicine), where he graduated in 1964. Dr. Neal completed his medical training as an intern and resident at The Medical Center in Columbus, Ga., in 1967. Following completion of his medical education, he served our country as a Senior Assistant Surgeon in the United States Public Health Service in Tahlequah, Okla., serving the Native American population.  

In 1969, Dr. Neal returned to Grove Hill to continue in his father’s footsteps in family medical practice. For many years Dr. Neal was the primary health care provider for the residents of Grove Hill and the surrounding community, continuing to care for the health of its families into this year. Providing the Clarke County community and its families with the best quality of health care available was his primary concern and passion. 

While treating patients in Clarke County, Dr. Neal was a leader in health care serving in numerous positions at the local and state levels including: Chief of Staff of the Grove Hill Memorial Hospital; member of the board of directors of the Grove Hill Health Care Authority; member of the Clarke County Medical Society; Medical Association of the State of Alabama; a Fellow in the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians; member of the Southern Medical Association; the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Medical Association. The Southwest Alabama Regional Hospital Council recognized him in 2007 as an Alabama Healthcare Hero. As an Adjunct Associate Professor with the University of South Alabama School of Medicine, Dr. Neal shared his passion for family medicine with the medical students participating in family medicine rotations at the Grove Hill Medical Clinic. In 2005 the USA Medical School recognized him as the Outstanding Professor of the Year and he was honored by the medical honor society, Alpha Omega Alpha, with the Volunteer Clinical Faculty Award. In addition to serving our local community, Dr. Neal shared his medical skills through participation in medical missions with Health Talents International serving the indigenous Mayan communities surrounding Chichicastenango, Guatemala. 

Dr. Neal’s service to the community was not limited to health care, he served his church, the Grove Hill United Methodist Church, in numerous positions, including as a member of the board of trustees. Always interested in quality education, Dr. Neal advocated for quality education of children through his involvement in Grove Hill Academy (currently Clarke Preparatory School) including serving on its board of directors and as the GHA Rebels team physician. The city of Grove Hill recognized him as the 1990 Citizen of the Year. 

As a young person raised in Grove Hill, Dr. Neal developed a love for and appreciation of God’s creation. He was an avid turkey hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman and shared his love of the outdoors with his sons and other Clarke County boys involved in the Maubila District of the Mobile Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America as an assistant scout master and was awarded the Silver Beaver by the Boy Scouts of America, the highest award granted by the Boy Scouts.   

The family will receive friends Tuesday, Sept. 12, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Grove Hill United Methodist Church. A service celebrating his life will be held Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 11 a.m., at the Grove Hill United Methodist Church.  Interment will follow at the Grove Hill Cemetery.

Active pallbearers were William Dwight Harrigan III, John Thomas Daffin, Wyman O. Gilmore Jr., Norman Lewis Moore Jr., Dr. Adam Jay Handwerger, Thomas Jacob Neal, William Sanders Pitman, William and Sanders Pittman Jr.

Honorary pallbearers were Dr. Albert Haas, Dr. Terry Rivers, Dr. Eniola Fagbongbe, Dr. Salah Al-Adabbi, Jimmy Chapman, Thomas Harrigan O’Melia, Terry Mathers, Nelson Reynolds, Ronnie Keahey, Mary Ellen Huckabee, CRNP, Dinah Pritchett, CRNP, Linda Newton, John Reid and Douglas Sewell.

Memorials may be made to Grove Hill Memorial Hospital, P.O. Box 935, Grove Hill, AL 36451 or to MPN Research Foundation, 180 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1870, Chicago, IL 60601.

Condolences may be left for the family at www.lathanfuneralhomegrovehill.com.   

Lathan Funeral Home of Grove Hill directed.



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