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Charles Anthony Neal | PASSAGES
Beloved by his family and friends for his quick wit and generous spirit, a brilliant and at times sardonic sense of humor, and spot-on powers of observation, Charles Anthony Neal — "Tony" to all who knew him — passed away on Monday evening, Aug. 11, 2014.
Tony succumbed peacefully in his Bremerton home after a two-year battle with cancer with his immediate family by his side.
He is survived by his wife Carolyn Ferguson Neal, and his two sons from a previous marriage, Anthony Neal, father to grandson Dylan Neal, and Justin Neal.
Born Aug. 17, 1940, Tony was raised in Kannapolis, North Carolina, a textile-mill town east of Charlotte where he lost himself in comic books and shooting pool.
Following high school graduation Tony joined the Navy in San Diego, California.
At the end of his service in 1963, Tony moved to Bremerton and entered Olympic College. After earning his associate of arts degree., he and his first wife Colleen Almojuela moved to Chapel Hill to attend the University of North Carolina. There he earned his Master of Arts in Teaching, and welcomed the birth of his eldest, Anthony.
Upon graduation from UNC, the young family returned to Bremerton where the aspiring novelist was hired as an English instructor at Olympic College.
As legend has it, Tony was the first father allowed to accompany a wife in labor at Harrison Hospital for Justin’s birth in 1972.
Always an ardent and outspoken advocate for peace, justice and equality, he knocked on doors for the McGovern presidential candidacy, and was involved in the drive to unionize the Olympic College faculty. He then followed his political passions to Olympia as legislative aide to Kitsap County Representative Rick Smith.
In 1977, the family moved to Bainbridge Island where his bourgeoning interest in homebuilding took off working for Lumbermen’s.
A lifelong sports fan, he coached his two boys in a variety of ball leagues, and displayed crafty talent on the softball diamond and the bowling alley. And with the advent of the VCR, his cinephilia blossomed, hastening his service at Viking Video in Winslow and then at the Bainbridge Public Library.
Upon meeting the love of his life Carolyn, a research librarian at the Kitsap Regional Library in Bremerton, they married in 1989. He joined the KRL staff and developed one of the largest video library collections in the State.
The couple’s tenure at the library dovetailed with Tony’s “This Old House” enthusiasm, morphing into the couple’s adeptness for flipping fixer-upper homes in the Bremerton area.
Upon retirement, Tony reignited with his love for competitive games, winning a number of Bremerton Senior Center weekly pool tournaments, and as a dedicated member for more than 10 years on the Bremerton Senior Center’s Softball team.
His family agrees with a sentiment shared by many who came to know him; Tony was the nicest man one could ever meet.
Donations can be made to the Hospice of Kitsap County or the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.
A celebration of life will be held after a senior center softball game at Lions Park in Bremerton on a date to be determined.