Rev. Fugusta Lee Neal Sr. 74, of Crest Hill, IL, passed away June 7, 2020. “Shanky” as he was known by his family and friends, was born on August 7, 1945 in Ashdown Arkansas, to the late Alexander Neal, Sr. and Nellie Ann Moore. Shanky grew up in Ashdown as one of 7 children. He attended Little County Training School (LRTC) and graduated in 1963.
In 1967, Shanky answered the call to serve his country in Vietnam. He was a member of the elite Army Airbone Rangers (75th Ranger Regiment). He was Honorably Discharged in December 1969, and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.
After returning from service Shanky married his sweetheart, Minnie Pearl Stroops on May 4, 1970 and started a family. He began his post-war career with Weyerheauser in Dierks, Arkansas. He retired in 2002 after 32 years of employment. During his retirement Shanky felt the call to serve the Lord. Although he had been very active in his local church as Sunday School Superintendent, Trustee, Stewart, and President of the West Arkansas Lay Organization, in 2006, he earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Jackson Theological Seminary in North Little Rock, Arkansas. He was bestowed ministerial rights by the AME church and pastored his first church, Kings Hills AME Church in Magnolia Arkansas for 2 years. From there he pastored Bethel AME Church in Mineral Springs Arkansas for 2 years. In 2010, he became an Artillery Elder and pastored the Young Circuit until he retired from ministry in 2013.
Shanky is survived by his 2 sons, Fugusta II (Lukysha) Neal, and Gerald Williamson; 3 daughters, Pamela (Mark) Hord, Jessica (Jonathan) Coulter, and MaryAnn Coleman; 12 Grandchildren, Octavian, Fugusta III, Gerell, Malcolm, Taylor, Jonathan Jr, Ashton, Jordan, Sydney, Gabriela, Nicholas, and Myles; 4 great grandchildren, Tammela, Aiden, Kaiden, and Ja’Rhia; a sister, Rev. Easter Faye Goodwin; and a host of nieces, nephews, church family, and friends. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Minnie Pearl (Stroops) Neal, 2 children, Alexander Neal and Tammal (Neal) Russ; a sister, Annie Bell (Young) Thomas; and 4 brothers, Floyd Young, Carl Young, Alexander Neal and Cleive Neal.
A private graveside service with full military honors will be held at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, IL.