Mark D. Neal
May 8, 2020
Mark D. Neal taught third grade for more than two decades in Shasta County. And yet when he bumped into former students, he recognized every single one. He received wedding invitations from students he had taught years before.
“He saw the good in every single person,” one of his daughters, Alexandra Neal, said. “It didn’t matter if they were homeless or the richest person — he would treat them the same.”
Mr. Neal seemed to be in excellent health until late February, when he showed up in an emergency room with pneumonia and was sent home with antibiotics. Weeks later, he learned he had acute myeloid leukemia, and soon after tested positive for Covid-19. He died on April 4. He was 62.
A week before he was admitted to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, he sent a screenshot of his Apple Watch to one of his daughters to show her that he had topped 20 miles on his bike that day. Mr. Neal, a father of three, loved riding his bike on Shasta County’s river trails. He had a hunger for travel, taking trips to Croatia and Western Europe. He built his own computers. He got a thrill each time he spotted an eagle. And he worked hard to encourage students from low-income backgrounds.
“He made everyone feel so loved and accepted,” Ms. Neal said.