Diane Ward Russell Neal, affectionately known as “Granny” to many family and friends, passed peacefully on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019.
Diane was born on May 28, 1932 in Laurel, the daughter of the late Grace Sternberg and Buck Russell. She was raised in Laurel, graduating from Laurel High School where she lettered in basketball and field hockey earning her nickname, “Storkey.” She went on to attend Milford Memorial School of Nursing completing her registered nurse (RN) certification. During this time she eloped with the love of her life, James “Jimmy” Franklin Neal; they shared 53 beautiful years together.
Diane had an innate ability to care for people and much of her life focused on a love for others. She was proud of her profession and loved being a nurse and caring for others at the Methodist Manor House and Milford Memorial Hospital for more than 43 years.
Diane and Jimmy created a strong family, raising five children with a focus on faith and fun. She was active in the Methodist church and sang in the choir at Cannon and St. John’s UMC. The family enjoyed many camping adventures and she and Jimmy especially enjoyed dancing or “twinkle toeing” at the Twinkle Club. You rarely saw Diane without Jimmy and they attended almost all of their children’s and grandchildren’s sporting events, regardless of the weather or distance. Diane was often the loudest fan in the crowd. After their grandchildren had grown, they remained avid supporters of the community, particularly youth sports, attending football, basketball, wrestling and Little League events faithfully.
In addition to her parents, Diane was preceded in death by her husband, Jimmy, and daughter-in-law, Marianne Fratelli Neal.
She is lovingly remembered by her children, Mike Neal, Vicki Neal (Ed Barto), Russell Neal, Barry Neal (Joan) and Kelly Taylor; grandchildren, Megan Morgan (Kyle), Monica Wheatley (Jimmy), Shannon Taylor (Erica), Kirk Neal (Lauren), Jenna Taylor, Ellie Taylor and Trevor Neal; and four great-grandchildren.
A funeral service was held on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Hannigan Short-Disharoon Funeral Home, Laurel. Interment was at Odd Fellows Cemetery, Laurel.
In lieu of flowers, the family has established a nursing scholarship in her memory to be awarded to a Seaford High School graduate pursuing the nursing profession. Contributions may be sent to Nanticoke Hope, PO Box 769, Seaford, DE 19973.