Homer Neal Lewis, 97, of Baker Hill, AL passed away peacefully at home on June 1, 2019. Neal was born the youngest of 6 children on Feb 5, 1922 in Baker Hill. He lost his father before he turned 3 years old and soon after, he began to "run away from home" to visit his Aunt Mitt and Uncle Gus (NA Williams) who lived up the road and operated a country store. Times were hard so his mother agreed to allow him to live with this aunt and uncle, as they had no children of their own. They loved him and raised him as a son. Neal attended Baker Hill School and was both popular and athletic, excelling in basketball. After graduation he enrolled in Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API, later named Auburn University) to pursue agriculture education. The day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he left school and returned to Baker Hill. He enlisted in the US Army and waited to be called to active duty. He married high school sweetheart, Eloise Carroll in May of 1942. Eloise was his greatest support and constant through nearly 70 years of marriage until her death in 2011. After attending Basic Training, he was sent to the Philippines. He was away from home for a total of 36 months and rose to the rank of Sergeant. Some of that time, he was a wire chief running wire communication behind enemy lines. After returning from the war, he returned to his studies in Ag Education. Before completing his BS in 1950, Neal was able to earn extra income to support his family by playing for the Opelika Owls minor league baseball team while living and also working at "The Bottle," a historic Auburn landmark. He later completed an MS in Ag Education in 1959. Neal's working career and lifelong passion was in the education, support and promotion of agriculture and he spent much of his adult life traveling the state and country satisfying this calling. He touched and impacted the lives of many young people with his guidance and his influence had far-reaching effects across the state of AL and beyond. Neal retired in 1987 after 37 years on the State Agribusiness Supervisory Staff. In this capacity, he worked as Assistant District Supervisor, Assistant State Supervisor/Veterans Programs, FFA Executive Secretary, and State Livestock Specialist. He assisted youth and young adults in developing their livestock programs. He and Eloise made their home in Auburn, AL and raised a daughter, Susan. He devoted many hours away from home traveling to assist with livestock shows, agricultural fairs, and supporting agriscience teachers around the state. Throughout his career and retirement, Neal was involved in numerous agriculture-related organizations and received countless awards and recognition for distinguished service in the name of agriculture throughout his life including being inducted into the Alabama Agriculture Hall of Honor (1988) and naming recognition of the HN Lewis Swine Barn at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery, AL. He became a member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) in 1937 and remained active in the organization, receiving numerous honorary memberships from many FFA chapters in Alabama. He received the Honorary State Farmer Degree from the Alabama State FFA Association and the Honorary American Farmer Degree from the National FFA organization. He served as the State Advisor for the Alabama Young & Adult Farmers Educational Association for many years. This organization was very important to Neal and Eloise through the remainder of their lives and many good friendships were developed as a result of their involvement. Neal began attending the National Peanut Festival prior to WWII and didn't miss attending more than a handful of them in his lifetime. He served on the National Peanut Festival Board for many years and was even appointed the honor of Grand Marshall of the parade one year. Other important organizations he was heavily involved with were the Alabama Rural Rehabilitation Corporation, the Alabama Agricultural Museum Board, and the Alabama FFA Foundation. Neal was recently recognized for over 70 years of continuous membership of the American Legion. Upon his retirement, he and Eloise moved home to their farm in Baker Hill while he continued his efforts in support of agriculture in Alabama and other states. His granddaughters fondly remember his teasing and the many lessons learned in their summers spent on the farm taking care of hogs, planting 1000 pine trees by hand "for fun," feeding the fish and going over the land lines. Friends and family remember his kindness, quick wit and infectious smile. He always searched for a better way to do things and wanted to help people by teaching them the value of hard work. He lived by the FFA Motto: "Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve" every day of his life. Favorite past-times were "piddling" around on his farm, arguing just for the sake of challenging the other person, "holding a hose" to water his grass, mowing/bush hogging, visiting folks and eating whatever Eloise would cook for him. He had an insatiable sweet tooth. Neal is survived by his daughter, Susan Lewis Hinds (Perry) (Auburn), granddaughters Robin Hinds Martin (Steve) (Auburn) and Major Kathryn Lewis Hinds of the USAF (Honolulu, HI), great-granddaughters, Reagan Sandra Martin and Hannah Eloise Martin (Auburn) and many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Our family wishes to express our most sincere gratitude to the people who devoted their time, energy and love to him. Without their help, we would not have been able to honor his wishes to spend his last years in his own home. Lisa Lynn has cared for Eloise and Neal for the past 11 years. Other devoted caregivers were Rency McKinnon, Emmajean Cullins, Iwona Turner, and Jenny Cullins. The staff of First Choice Hospice of Ozark, AL, have been a wonderful comfort to us. Their assistance has been invaluable and very much appreciated. Visitation will be held on Thursday, June 6 at 12:00 pm at the National Peanut Festival campus in Dothan, AL with a celebration of Neal's life immediately following at 1:00 pm. A family graveside service will follow at Pond Bethel Church Cemetery in Baker Hill, AL. with Chapman Funeral Home of Eufaula directing. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the following: The Pond Bethel Church Cemetery Fund c/o Perry Hinds 385 S Brookwood Dr Auburn, AL 36830 or to the H.N. Lewis FFA Scholarship (made out to the Alabama FFA Association) c/o Kenny Boyd 3410 Skyway Dr Auburn, AL 36830-6444. When submitting a donation, please indicate that it is in honor of HN Lewis.

Load entries