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Published: Friday, 3/7/2014

Raymond C. Neville; 1924-2014: WWII Navy vet founded 2 mortuaries in Lucas Co.

Neville Neville

Raymond C. Neville, who founded funeral homes that became landmarks in the Reynolds Corners and Holland areas, died March 1 in Suncoast Hospice, Pinellas Park, Fla. He was 89.

He had Alzheimer’s disease, his daughter, Linda, said. Mr. Neville, formerly of Sylvania Township and South Toledo, lived with his daughter in her Gulf Port, Fla., home for much of the year.

He was five years out of mortuary college in 1953 when he and his wife, Barbara, opened Neville Funeral Home on Dorr Street. Established mortuaries had not yet moved to the area, said Robert Shank, a longtime funeral director and friend.

“He filled a need for people in the Reynolds Corners area,” Mr. Shank said. “That was part of Adams Township. It was a well-knit community in itself.

“A lot of the families in the Holland area, he cared for them, and that’s why he opened the funeral home out on Airport Highway in ’74,” Mr. Shank said.

Mr. Neville also operated an ambulance service, as did many funeral homes of the time. He and his family lived above the Reynolds Corners mortuary. Always being on call was a way of life.

“When I was 10 years old, I was answering phones and dispatching ambulances,” his daughter said. “We had two telephone lines, one for business, one personal. All the children knew when that telephone rang, you had to be quiet. And we had to be very quiet upstairs.”

Mr. Neville was known for his skill in preparing bodies for viewings, and other funeral homes on occasion sought his expertise.

He helped people “at a time of great stress and grief. He was very good with people,” his daughter said.

He found success in a field then dominated by long-established, family-run mortuaries. “He was very charismatic,” his daughter said.

He was elected president in 1976 of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association.

In 1979, he received an award as “boss of the year” from Donald Shanteau, Toledo safety director, at a meeting of the Key Port chapter of the American Business Women’s Association.

Mr. Neville later sold the funeral homes, which remain open and use the Neville name.

“He was a first-class funeral director and friend,” said Mr. Shank, a frequent fishing companion.

He was born Sept. 5, 1924, to Bertha Mae and Raymond C. Neville, and was a graduate of Libbey High School.

He was a transport pilot in the Pacific Theater and a lieutenant junior grade during Navy service in World War II. Mr. Neville remained a pilot in civilian life and owned a small airplane that doubled as an air ambulance.

He attended the University of Toledo and what is now Case Western Reserve University. He was a graduate of the former Cleveland College of Mortuary Science.

He and his wife, Barbara, married July 7, 1945. She died Jan. 2, 2013. A daughter, Janet E. Grasberger, preceded him in death as well.

Surviving are his sons, Kenneth and Gale; daughter, Linda Neville; five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. today in the Neville Funeral Home, Southwest Chapel, on Airport Highway, where services are set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

The family suggests tributes to Epiphany Lutheran Church, where he was a longtime member.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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