KILMARNOCK—Pernell Gilliam McNeal, 91, of Kilmarnock passed away on July 26, 2017, at his home in Kilmarnock.
Pernell McNeal was born May 11, 1926, at McNeal’s Corner, Lancaster, the son of Pete Gilliam and Orpha Forrester Gill McNeal. He grew up working on the family farm at McNeal’s Corner, when family farms were the norm and everyone pitched in. Working on the farm as a boy fostered a strong work ethic in Pernell that would serve him well in his career to come.
Pernell is preceded in death by his wife of 69 years; Grace McNeal. He married Grace Hurd Newsome on January 20, 1945, in Washington, D.C. During his many years of marriage, his quiet demeanor would allow Grace to be the main conversationalist but he was always available to add a little anecdote to her stories. Pernell was a humble man with a big heart whose enduring love for his sweet wife was admired by all.
Pernell was a member of the U.S. Navy and a veteran of World War II. Several years after leaving the Navy, Pernell found himself working for Crowther Ford as a mechanic, in Kilmarnock. In 1953, he started work at T.D. McGinnis when both dealerships were located on Main Street between Augusta Street and Irvington Road. Pernell continued to work for McGinnis for over 38 year starting as a mechanic and advancing to parts manager and eventually general manager. Pernell retired in 1991 but did not stay away long. He returned to the sales staff at McGinnis and then returned to Crowther Ford in 1999. You could say he was a car man at heart.
He joined the Lions Club in 1967 and was an active member winning 100% attendance awards many times over the years. You may remember seeing him working the “White Cane Days” table throughout Kilmarnock. In 2001, Pernell received the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award from the Lions Club. This fellowship award is the highest form of recognition to acknowledge an individual’s exceptional community commitment and dedication to humanitarian service.
Then in 1994, Pernell was the lucky winner of a Dodge Dakota Pickup from the Kilmarnock Volunteer Firemen’s Carnival. Pernell told the Rappahannock Record, “I’ve been buying tickets at the carnival for at least the past 50 years, but I never won a thing before, not even tickets at the dime board.”
Pernell is also preceded in death by his father, Pete Gilliam McNeal; and his mother, Orpha Forrester Gill McNeal; and two half-brothers, Wayland Riley Gill and Herman Sandby Gill.
He is survived by his step-mother, Florence Gough McNeal of Kilmarnock; brother, Fillmore Arthur McNeal of Lancaster; sister, Sylvia McNeal Davis of Lancaster; godson, Staff Sergeant James Edward Davis Jr, USAF of Abilene, Texas; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Lancaster County Lions Club, PO Box 368, Kilmarnock, VA 22482.
To celebrate his life, the Rev. Randy Newsome conducted a service at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 28, at Currie Funeral Home, Kilmarnock. Interment took place following the service at Coan Baptist Church, Heathsville. His family received friends one hour prior to the service at Currie Funeral Home.
Active pallbearers are James E. Davis Sr., Thomas E. Davis, Alonza ”Lonnie” Davis, Brooks A. Davis, Dr. Jeffrey C. Fox, Dean Loudy, Jerry Weber Jr., Spencer Waters and James Dungan. Honorary pallbearers are Irene Jones, Eunice Jones, Dawn Clark, Marie Smith, Marlene Bean, Mary Ann Harris, Annitra Ball and the Lancaster County Lions Club.
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