‘His heart will beat on’
Ask several of his neighbors about the kind of person Neale was, and none of them mention violence or anything close to it. They say he was fun and liked to joke, that his kids played with their kids when he was at home and not at his construction job in Jasper. They say he helped them work to repair their cars. They talk about how he brought the kid out in grown men.
“He was really nice to talk to,” said Nikki Camper, who said Neale and her husband were close friends and saw each other at least a couple of times a week. “He helped my husband (with work on a vehicle), and he liked working on his own stuff, too.”
Byars said Neale was so friendly that her husband joked he “made (him) be his best friend.” She said they saw each other nearly every day. They would ride four-wheelers with their children. Their families — adults included — played on a blow-up slide in Neale’s yard on a special occasion.
It didn’t matter that Neale was a long-haired guy from New York and Thomas Byars was a Southern guy. They hit it off. Neale was straightforward with everyone, Ashley Byars said. He told you what he was thinking.
It appears Neale and his family touched many lives. A fundraiser website to help pay for funeral expenses showed more than 50 donations making up $2,600 of a $3,000 goal raised as of Wednesday evening to assist the family and help pay for funeral expenses. The page, www.gofundme.com/6y0800, is full of pictures of Neale offering hugs, playing with kids and standing beside a pickup truck.
The fundraiser’s organizer, Britney Reis, states on the page she is Neale’s sister-in-law and that Neale lost a 20-year-old son, Daniel, in December.
The site states Neale left behind a daughter, three sons and his wife. It also alludes to both Neale and his deceased son being donors.
“Daniel and Ryan’s hearts will still beat on as Krissy (Neale’s wife) made the most selfless decision to help others in need,” Reis writes. “Daniel saved many lives, a grandmother, a mother, a veteran ... list goes on ... and now ryan will save a life also his heart will beat on.”
Efforts to speak with a family member in person or by phone by Wednesday were unsuccessful.