NAPLES, Fla.—Former General Tire President Gilbert Neal died on March 8 at age 82 in Naples.
Neal was born in Akron and graduated from the University of Akron. After graduation, Neal began a long and successful business career in the tire and rubber industry.
Neal worked for the Firestone for more than 25 years, beginning as a salesman and rising to serve as president of Firestone Steel Products. Neal also served as the branch manager of Firestone Interamerica Co. in Puerto Rico; managing director of Firestone de la Argentina SAIC in Buenos Aires, Argentina; managing director of Firestone Brazil in Sao Paolo, Brazil; vice president for Africa, Asia and the Far East; and vice president for Europe and Africa.
In 1984, Neal was named president of General Tire, and served in that capacity after the company was sold to Continental A.G. in 1987. He retired after being relieved of his duties by Continental in 1989.
“On behalf of everyone at Continental, our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Neal family on the passing of Gilbert Neal,” Jochen Etzel, CEO for Continental Tire the Americas, said in a statement. “Gilbert's vision and leadership truly had an impact on General Tire which remains a cornerstone of our company. He will be remembered for leading by example and his tremendous compassion for his employees. He will be missed.”
Neal and his wife retired to Naples in 1990, but he maintained his connection to Akron through years of service on the board of directors of the First Bancorporation of Ohio, now known as FirstMerit Bank.
Neal was also was a passionate golfer, an avid sports fan and a longtime fan of the Cleveland Indians and Browns. He enjoyed playing cards, including euchre and bridge and loved music, as listener, sometime singer and as the energetic piano player. He was something of an expert in the dice game known as Hurlingham, to which he was introduced while heading Firestone's operations in Argentina and Brazil.
Neal was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Barbara; and his parents, Gilbert and Maude (Brown) Neal.
He is survived by his sister, Agnes (Neal) Webner; his four children, Margaret (David) Wallace, Beth (Craig) Boyce, Gilbert W. (Maryann) Neal, David (Staci) Neal; and eight grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association , Greater East Ohio Area Chapter, 70 W. Streetsboro St., Suite 201, Hudson, Ohio 44236, or online at www.alz.org/akroncantonyoungstown.
Calling hours will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on March 15 at Vi at Bentley, West Clubhouse Auditorium, 561 Village Court Circle, Naples Fla. 34110.
A memorial service in celebration of Neal's life will be held in Akron at a date to be announced in the near future.