John William Neal

Always assuming his heart would someday fail, family and friends were sadly surprised to learn John’s days would end with pancreatic cancer. At 73, he’d been given 23 bonus years from his successful heart transplant—and was forever grateful for his life’s extension. Born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, John started out as a sheet-metal and refrigeration journeyman, but as an overachiever and avid believer in continuing education, careers in teaching, guidance and cars followed, and eventually the Personnel Director for the London Board of Education, a job of which he was so proud. On the steps of the Brantford YMCA one fateful evening long ago, John, who was entering, asked Jean Brandwood, who was leaving, “Where do you think you’re going?” She replied, “There’s no one worth dancing with in there.” He began a 51-year love affair with the line: “Well, there is now!” A teaching position eventually brought the couple to London and shortly after that, Jennifer and Julie arrived. John knew a little about a lot and mastered many skills. He loved North American cars, fire engines and trains, a booming hymn, a great debate, and a tall gin and tonic. He loved his wife, his girls, his grandchildren and his cats. A careful and cautious man, his motto was always “You can do it right, or you can do it twice.” John could talk electrical, mechanical and civil engineering with anyone who’d listen. He could blissfully fall asleep in the theatre or a dinner party. Eating a big breakfast, cherry cheesecake and dip were all-day favourites. His quirky sense of humour was always positive and hopeful; his laugh, a sudden boom. He loved his home and garden, and was proud of a fastidiously kept lawn. He never drove to a destination the same route twice. He loved chatting up the neighbours, negotiations of any sort and human connections of all kinds. He loved his beefsteak tomatoes and a highway to anywhere. He had a sensitive touch, with a teardrop for your story and an empathetic ear. He was a devout CBC listener and Toronto Star reader. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend to many, and always found new friends wherever he went. Funeral services to be held at Church of St. John the Divine, Arva, Ontario, Monday, August 13, 2:00 p.m., followed by a reception at Windermere Manor. Donations to London Health Sciences Multi Organ Transplant Unit/Oncology deeply appreciated. Special thanks to the medical staff at University and Victoria Hospitals, Bayshore Nursing, CCAC and St. Elizabeth’s Health Care.  (

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