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Joan Neal, 82, of Fayetteville

Beloved Fayetteville resident Joan Neal died Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010.

Millie Joan Burkes Land Neal was born on Feb. 27, 1928 in Phenix City, Ala., to George Ashby Burkes and Maybelle Ethel Barnes Burkes. She lived in Columbus, Rome, and Athens, Ga., where she went to Athens High and the University of Georgia.

She married Charles Arling Land of Columbus, Ga., in 1944. A daughter, Jo, was born. Following her husband’s death in 1947, Joan moved back to Athens to attend the University of Georgia on an athletic scholarship. She graduated in 1951 with the first degree in Recreation and was employed by the Callaway Company Recreation Program in LaGrange, Ga. She returned to the University of Georgia for graduate study when she met Ray Verlin Neal of Rabun Gap, Ga. They were married on Dec. 25, 1952 and moved to Fayetteville, where they raised four children – Jo, Kim, Roger, and Kathy.

Joan was active in starting many groups locally, such as elementary, junior high, and senior high PTAs, band boosters, and business and professional women’s clubs. She started the first kindergarten in Fayette County at the First Baptist Church and taught third grade and later became librarian at Fayetteville Elementary School for 26 years. She was a charter member of the Southeastern Literary Association. She retired in 1990 after a bout with kidney cancer.

Her retirement from the school system was just the beginning of her work. She served on the Georgia Democratic Party State Committee as an alternate in 1976 and a delegate in the 1980 Democratic National Conventions in New York City and even ran for representative of the Georgia Legislature in 1978. Joan was a member of the governing board of the Georgia Association of Educators and attended 11 national conventions as a delegate and was local unit President and Area Director of the Georgia Retired Educators Association. She was also House Speaker of the Silver Haired Legislature, on the ARC Task Force on Aging, and on the AARP Legislature Committee.

Her love of and for Christ led her to the Fayetteville First Baptist Church where she has been a member, teacher, WMU President, BYPU leader, choir member, Finance Committee member, and Property/Space Committee member. She worked tirelessly with the Fayette Senior Services and was instrumental in the building of the Life Enrichment Center for seniors.

Mrs. Neal was preceded in death by her husband, Ray, in 1996 and her son, Kim, in 1998. She leaves two daughters, Dr. Jo Griffeth, Tifton,and Kathy Neal Graham (Richard), Senoia; a son, Roger Neal (Lucy), Senoia; seven grandchildren: Dr. Laura Griffeth, Jamie Griffeth (Andrea), Wes Adams (Tiffany), Wendy Adams Wood (Jonathan), Jimmy Neal (Allyson), Julie Neal, and Richard Neal, and three great-grandchildren. Her brother, Don Burkes, lives in Athens.

A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, at 2 p.m. in the Overton Chapel of Fayetteville First Baptist Church with Rev. Glenn Stringham officiating. Burial will follow at Fayetteville City Cemetery. The family will receive friends on Tuesday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Mowell Funeral Home, Fayetteville. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Joan’s Pool at Fayette Senior Services, 4 Center Dr., Fayetteville, Ga. 30214 .

Carl J. Mowell & Son Funeral Home –

Read an interview with Mrs. Neal from the October, 2010, issue of Fayette Woman here:


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