Stephen Neal remembered as devoted family man

DARRINGTON — Stephen A. Neal was a devoted husband, father and grandfather who moved to Darrington and came to love the mountain town.

Neal, 55, died March 22 in the Oso mudslide. He and his friend Bill Welsh were installing a water heater in the home of Amanda Lennick on Steelhead Drive when the slide hit.

Neal was born Sept. 29, 1958, in Pittsburgh, Pa. Neal moved with his family to Whidbey Island, where he attended the former Langley High School (now South Whidbey High School).

He met his wife, Brenda, in Seattle, and shortly after their marriage he moved to Darrington to raise a family.

“He was a very strong family man, that was his main drive,” said his daughter-in-law, Jessica Neal.

Stephen and Brenda were married for more than 30 years and were very close.

“They were a very inspirational relationship to me. They showed a lot of love and it was beautiful,” she said.

Stephen Neal ran his own plumbing business, and that was what took him out to Oso with his friend to work on the house there.

“They worked together frequently and helped each other out with jobs,” Jessica Neal said.

But more than anything else, he was devoted to his family: “Barbecues, camping, having the grandkids over and going to catch frogs and salamanders with them,” Jessica Neal said.

He and Brenda had three children, plus four grandchildren who just worshipped him and to whom he loved to tell stories, she said.

“He would make them up: nature stories, ghost tales, things to get them riled up. He had a great imagination,” she said.

He also volunteered with the local Boy Scout troop when his son was in the Scouts, and he would often help out around town with plumbing work.

“This community meant a lot to him,” Jessica Neal said.

Neal is survived by his wife, Brenda, and three children: daughter Caroline Neal, 32, of Arlington, son Ryan Neal, 29, and his wife, Jessica, of Marysville, and daughter Sara Neal, 25, of Darrington. He also had four grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at noon Saturday, April 26, at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church, 1272 Highway 530, Darrington. Vistors are welcome to attend and pay their respects.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

No easy exit from Smokey Point shopping complex

There’s just no easy exit on this one. A reader called in… Continue reading

Lynnwood, Marysville, Sultan consider ban on safe injection sites

If approved, they would join Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, which have temporary bans.

City Council OKs initial funding for Smith Avenue parking lot

The site of the former Smith Street Mill is being developed in anticipation of light rail.

Single fingerprint on robbery note leads to arrest

The holdup occurred at a U.S. Bank branch in Lynnwood in June.

Two windsurfers rescued from Port Susan near Kayak Point

The men had failed to return to shore during Sunday’s windstorm.

Yes to turn signal — eventually

Adding a right-turn signal at 112th St. and 7th Ave. is turning out to be a bit more complicated.

Mill Creek councilman no longer lives in city, panel finds

The Canvassing Board determined Sean Kelly is not eligible to vote there.

A Democrat and ex-Republican team up to end two-party politics

Brian Baird and Chris Vance unveil a new organization called Washington Independents.

Most Read