Surrounded by his family, Neil crossed the river and departed this earth, a brave warrior, December 19, 2014 at 4:30am, and has safely arrived in the celestial city. Unlike many surfing trips to the biggest waves all over the world in his 55 years, he arrived, this time, instantaneously. We know the surf is up, the weather’s great, and many friends there to greet him.
Neil was a wonderfully gifted carpenter, in San Diego first, then for 30 years in Wilmington, NC. He loved God’s creation and was happiest when in it. He loved surfing, hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing and painting pictures or making wood carvings of his fish exactly the size of his best catches. He did not want much; Neil wanted a beat up old truck, a boat, his tools and his workshop. His degree was in Geology from UNC-W, because Neil wanted to study God’s creation. Neil loved the ocean at Wrightsville and Holden Beach so much, he decided to live there. Above all, Neil loved his friends who celebrated his life over the years on trips, on the beach, or on his deck in the back yard, but especially during his short illness. Dozens came from all over the U.S., from as far away as Hawaii. They sat for hours in an old barn shed behind his parents’ home in Raleigh, NC, spinning yarns around a wood stove, used by his grandparents, Harrison and Larue Smith.
His friends gave his parents, Larry and Wanda Smith an unexpected gift; one that few parents are enabled to see. That is, a glimpse of their son through the eyes of his friends. What his parents saw is a man who accepted and cared for his friends for exactly who they were, where they were and what they were, with no judgments whatsoever. He made no effort to change them and fiercely challenged anything negative said about them. He truly lived by the Christian saying, “Live the Gospel, if necessary, use words.” His friends and family knew he used very few.
His family, especially his sister, Lynne Smith King, who was his security blanket, cared for him 24/7 in the short months of his critical illness. Lynne’s husband, David King lost his wife while Lynne slept on the sofa beside Neil’s bed. His nephews, Shep King and his wife, Elyse and Lew King and his wife, Lauren were continuous caregivers. Fortunately they all live in Raleigh, NC which made this possible.
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Two of his favorite scriptures are from 1 Cor 2:4-5 “Our faith does not rest in the wisdom of man, but in God’s power. “ and Psalm 16:11 “You will make known to me the faith of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 27, 2014 at 1:00pm at Calvary Presbyterian Church, 6520 Ray Road, Raleigh, NC 27613. A reception and time of gathering will be held following the services at the church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Neil’s memory may be made to Transitions LifeCare, 250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh, NC 27607. Memories about Neil may be shared at www. MitchellatRMP.com