Larry Thatcher Neal, age 72, passed away peacefully on May 7, 2019 in Lubbock, Texas. He was born in Lubbock, Texas on October 29, 1946 to Roy and Emma Nell Neal. Larry went through LISD and graduated from Lubbock High School in 1965. He spent his spare time with his father who was in the Aviation industry and found a passion for airplanes and flying at an early age. He showed an early love for the outdoors as well and was a member of the Boy Scouts of America from age 11-18 and earned his Eagle Scout at the end of high school. Before graduating high school, he obtained his pilot’s license and began working with his dad while starting school at Texas Tech University in the fall of 1965. In 1966 and 1967, Larry became a member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity and continued with school
until 1969 when he walked out of a final and enlisted in the United States Army.
Larry served one tour in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 as an air traffic controller at a small air base near the border of
Cambodia called Tay Ninh. After returning from Vietnam, he completed his service at Fort Rucker in Alabama. He then came back to Lubbock to finish his Accounting degree at Texas Tech and graduated in 1973. Soon after Tech, he met Melanie Waters and they got married on August 23, 1975 at First United Methodist Church in Lubbock where he
had been a lifelong member. Larry began working at Wes-Tex Aircraft with his dad where he sold airplanes, taught flying lessons, chartered flights,
and even gassed airplanes and cleaned out hangars. In 1987 after the retirement of his father, he moved and started Neal Aircraft at the Slaton Municipal Airport where he became an Air Tractor dealer and manager of the airport. He became highly involved in Agricultural Aviation and was well known in this region for his knowledge of aircraft.
Along with working, Larry was quite the servant. He served as a member of The Lubbock Rotary, Slaton Lions Club, First United Methodist Choir, taught Children’s Sunday school, and coached many of his childrens’ sports teams. Larry had a passion for all things involving airplanes, but he also had many other hobbies. He loved the outdoors and spent much of his spare time fishing, hunting, gardening, and camping. One of his most favorite places on Earth was Port Aransas, Texas where he spent time with his family and closest friends. He loved taking friends out on the ocean
to help them experience a great day of fishing. Fish Fries were his favorite way of entertaining friends and family and always topped it off with a half gallon of Bluebell Ice Cream. He also loved his time at NH Ranch near Fort Stockton where he would hunt, explore, and sit around the campfire telling stories in a way that only he could do.
Larry has always been a kid at heart, and this was never realized more as he welcomed 9 grandchildren into his family over the years. He was the best GRANDAD around and was truly adored. Larry is survived by his wife, Melanie Waters Neal, his children and their spouses Robert and Cory Neal, Jeremy and Ginger Barbee, and Sam and Holly Mercer; a brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Carolyn Neal and a sister, Joann Neal, 6 nephews, 3 nieces, and 9 beloved grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the following organizations that were important to Larry and his family: Ronald McDonald House, First United Methodist Music Program, Slaton Lions Club, or the charity of your choice. The family would like to express our thanks to Brookdale at Shadow Hills, Hospice of the South Plains, the caregivers from Synergy, and the amazing support of our friends who continue to pray fervently, bring meals, and offer support daily.
The memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church in Lubbock on May 17, 2019 at 10:30 am.
Visitation will take place before the service at 9:30 am in the parlor.