Neal McNeight, age 88, died Saturday December 7, 2019 at the Chautauqua Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.
He was born September 14, 1931 in Dunkirk to Harry L. and Agnes (Dunning) McNeight.
Neil moved to Cassadaga at an early age and was a graduate of Cassadaga Valley Central School, class of 1949. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1950 until 1954, attaining the rank of Staff Sargent and was assigned to the 4th Weather Squadron as a rawinsonde operator. While stationed in Portland, Oregon, he met and married Shirlie Ames, his wonderful wife of 65 years. After discharge from the Air Force, he worked as a weatherman on the guided missile test range in the Bahama Islands. After returning to Fredonia, he began a 31 year career with Allegany Ludlum (Al Tech) Steel Company beginning as a technician in the metallurgical laboratory and retiring as a supervisor in the Hot Forming and Conditioning Department.
Neal joined the D.R. Barker Hose Company of the Fredonia Fire Department in 1955. He held all company line officer positions and was elected Assistant Fire Chief in 1970, Fire Chief from 1973 to 1975 and served 19 years as Deputy County Fire Coordinator for Training. Following his retirement from Al Tech, then Chautauqua County Executive Jack Glenzer, appointed him as County Fire Coordinator where he served for 15 years. The last three years he held the dual position of Fire Coordinator – Director of Emergency Services.
He was proud of establishing the Enhanced 911 system with the late Chautauqua County Sheriff John Bentley and former Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace. After his retirement from Chautauqua County, Neal continued working part-time with the Sheriff’s Department to maintain and update the E-911 database.
Neal was very acting in the Fredonia Fire Department and fire service in general. He served as co-chairmen of the building committee that secured funds to build the current fire station. As a member of the New York State Association of Counties, he served on the E-911 Standing Committee.
Neal joined the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs in 1959 while a lieutenant. He served the Public Relations Committee and then appointed to the Conference Committee and eventually becoming Co-chairman of that committee. Neal was elected to the Board of Directors in 1982. In 1989 he was elected as 2nd Vice President and the 1st Vice President in 1990. In 1991 to 1992 he became President of the Association with several thousand members. During his term of office the Association of Fire Chiefs lobbied for several pieces of legislation that became law including the Length of Service Awards Program and the Low Interest Loan Program for the fire department of the state.
Neal served on the Western Region Emergency Medical Board and also on the Chautauqua County Fire Advisory. He was a charter member of Chautauqua County Hazardous Materials Response Team.
Neal has received numerous award including Chautauqua County American Legion Firefighter of the Year and the American Legion Department of New York Firefighter of the Year, both in 1986.
WCA Hospital Emergency Medical Service Award in 1989 and Chautauqua County Outstanding Citizen Award in 1991 and awarded the “Key to Fredonia” by Mayor Louis Mancuso also in 1991.
Neal’s memberships included were Chautauqua County Fire Chief’s Award, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Eastern Division – International Association of Fire Chiefs, Canadian Fire Chiefs Association, National Fire Protection Association, County Fire Coordinators Association of New York, New York State Emergency Managers Association, Western Region Emergency Managers Association, the Fredonia Beaver Club, Fredonia Memorial American Legion Post # 59 and Jamestown AMVETS Post #726.
He loved drum corps and played or marched in several local corps, including the Fredonia Fire Department Drum Corps and the Silver Creek Black Knights. He was Drum Major of the Fredonia Vanguard the year that they won the American Legion New York State Championship, the Hose 4 Murrymen and currently served as Captain of the Color Guard of the WNY Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps.
He enjoyed singing and performed in several High Fever Follies shows. He also sang with the AMVETS Post # 1996 Stag Door Canteen Shows.
Neal enjoyed golf (even though he always said he played terribly). A very rabid Buffalo Bills fan and was a season ticket holder for 52 years. He was named as one of 10 “Ultimate Bills Fans” by the Buffalo Bills in 2009.
Neal is survived by his wife, Shirlie McNeight; a nephew Craig (Wendy) Harrington, two nieces: Donna Harrington and Phyllis Jones and a brother-in-law Mooney Harrington.
A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday December 15, 2019 from 1 pm-4 pm at the Fredonia Beaver Club, 64 Prospect Street, Fredonia, N.Y., where remarks and sharing of memories will commence at 1:30 pm.
Memorial contributions may be made to Fredonia Fire Department, 80 W. Main Street, Fredonia, New York 14063 or the Alzheimer’s Association of WNY, 6215 Sheridan Drive, Suite 100, Williamsville, NY 14221.
Online condolences may be made at larsontimkofuneralhome.com. Arrangements by David J. Dengler, LARSON-TIMKO Funeral Home, 716-679-9000.