Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 29, 2012

Town loses a strong proponent of education

Barbara Neal was longtime teacher at West Middle

Judy Wakefield
Staff Writer

---- — Traffic was so heavy at last week’s wake for Barbara Neal, a retired, longtime math teacher at West Middle School, that police had to close the street where the funeral home was located.

Barbara Neal died unexpectedly on Friday, Nov. 16. She was 70.

Inside the Conte Funeral Home on Florence Street last Tuesday, Nov. 20, her heavy-hearted family was certainly touched by the warm wishes and shared memories of so many.

”We were inspired. There were so many who came,” said her husband, Richard “Dick” Neal, a former superintendent of schools in Andover.

The Neals’ son, Steve Neal, is a police officer with the Andover Police Department. He is also an assistant hockey coach at Andover High School. The Neals also have two daughters who live out of town.

A 38-year town resident, Barbara Neal had many friends and former colleagues around Andover who say they will never forget her devotion to keeping Andover’s education system superlative.

”Barbara was an excellent math teacher. Her talents extended far beyond the subject matter. She understood the world of the teenager and adjusted her approaches as the societal changes took place while maintaining her values and standards,” said Ken Seifert, former Andover Superintendent of Schools. “She was regularly one of the last to leave the building at the end of the day.”

Seifert said she was “a great cheerleader for faculty and students alike.”

After retiring in 2005, she volunteered with education-focused community service groups. She was a longtime board member of the Andover Fund for Education and was the group’s treasurer at the time of her death.

”She was so dedicated to education and to students throughout her admirable life,” said Joan Cohen, AFE vice chairwoman. “It was one of numerous roles in which she served her passion and our community.”

Barbara Neal made a significant contribution to the students of Andover and Cohen said she mixed good humor while being a strong proponent of good education.

”She touched many lives and will be much missed,” Cohen said.

The Neals lived on Twin Brook Circle for years, and moved to smaller quarters at Stone Castle Estates in Methuen last March.

In addition to her husband and son, family members include her daughters, Jennifer Oswitt of Northbridge and Jessica Janeczak of Tyngsborough; two sons-in-law; five grandchildren and several other family members.

Barbara Neal’s full obituary was in last week’s Townsman.