William Lamar “Billy” Neal passed away on March 20, 2023 at CHI St Vincent Hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas with his children by his side. He was 78. He goes to join his late wife of 50 years, Shirley Ann Neal.
Billy was born December 1, 1944 in Sandyland to Herbert and Nell Neal. He was a 1962 graduate of Smackover High School where he excelled in football and track. When the Arkansas Democrat began their high school football player of the week campaign, he was the very first “Back of the Week”. He went on to play football at Southern State College in Magnolia and later graduated from Southern Arkansas University.
He married his high school sweetheart, Shirley, in 1965. Billy worked for Cooper Industrial products as the quality control manager for 18 years before joining Cross Refining Company in 1983 where he advanced to EVP and was on the Board of Directors. He worked with the Corp of Engineers and the US Coast Guard in the development of the Cross Oil River terminal on the Ouachita River. He was an active member of the Ouachita River Valley Assoc and the Arkansas Waterways Commission.
Billy was a genuine, funny and loving man with many friends and fans, but what was most impressive was the way he nurtured and cared for his wife, Shirley, as she fought multiple sclerosis for 28 years. His love for her was unwavering.
Billy was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Mallory Neal, and a brother-in-law, William Michael Wilkins.
Billy was a loving father to his two children, Angela Lea Gibbons (Shane) of El Dorado and William Michael Neal of Hot Springs. He was “Pappi” to his grandchildren, Hunter Wilson (Quimby), Zane Wilson and Tyler Gibbons (Katie); and his great-grandchildren, River Wilson, Opie Wilson and Jaxon Gibbons. He is also survived by his sister, Nelda Blaylock (Charles) of El Dorado and his brother, Bobby Neal, of Smackover, his brother-in-law Butch Wilkins, sisters-in-law, Ann Wilkins and Martha Neal, and his loved companion and friend, Marla Ramsey.
A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, March 26 at 4:00 pm at the Hot Springs Country Club, 101 Country Club Dr, Hot Springs, Arkansas. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Billy Neal Buckaroo-Mulerider Scholarship Fund at Simmons Bank, 100 W. Grove St., El Dorado, AR 71730.