Burnham E. Neal, age 89, of Mattoon, Illinois died early Thursday, April 12, 2012, in his home.
Burnham was born on May 15th, 1922, the son of Edgar Allen and Lora Ann Neal of Toledo, Illinois. He married Nancy J. Lunsford on June 22nd, 1966. She preceded him in death in 2006. He is survived by his daughter, Melissa Hope Neal-Lunsford of Charleston, Illinois and two grandsons; Sean Burnham Neal-Lunsford and David Reaves Neal-Lunsford of Mattoon, Illinois.
Beginning with a small gas station, Burnham built his business, Neal Tire, into a chain of tire stores located in three states, as well as BEN Tire, a wholesale tire and auto parts distribution company. As his business and income grew, he dedicated himself to philanthropic activities. He helped found Lake Land College in Mattoon in 1966 and funded a number of scholarships. A building at the college was renamed
Neal Hall in honor of Burnham and his wife Nancy in 2005.
In 1997, Eastern Illinois University named the Philanthropy Awards after Burnham and his wife in recognition of their service to the university. Burnham, his wife, and his sister Rosemary Neal also endowed the Neal Welcome Center for Eastern Illinois University in 2002. Burnham received an honorary Doctor of Public Service from EIU in 2003.
His generosity is well known in central Illinois, including playing a major role in building the new YMCA in Mattoon, Illinois and establishing the Neal Nursing Institute at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. He received numerous awards for his philanthropy, receiving the Tire Business magazine's 2008 Tire Dealer Humanitarian Award and the 2008 East Central Illinois Association for Fundraising Professionals' Philanthropist of the Year Award.
Burnham was also active in local business affairs. He was a member of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce and served terms on the board of directors of the Central National Bank of Mattoon and the First Neighborhood Bank of Toledo.
Burnham loved sports and rooted for the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, and the University of Illinois basketball and football teams. He was an avid golfer and a longtime member of the Mattoon Golf and Country Club, where he served a term as its president. Burnham and Nancy were also highly accomplished bridge players who achieved Grand Master status. He and his wife loved to travel, both in the United States and abroad.
Funeral services celebrating his life will be held at Mitchell-Jerdan funeral home, 1200 Wabash Avenue, Mattoon, Illinois, 61938 on Saturday, April 21st, 2012 at 2:30pm. Rev. Art Woolverton will officiate. Visitation will be held from 11:30am to 2:30pm on Saturday, April 21st of 2012 at Mitchell-Jerdan Funeral Home, Mattoon, Illinois. Private entombment services will be held at the Toledo Cemetery in Toledo, Illinois.
In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to the Cumberland County Pet Connection Charity, P.O. Box 1, Toledo, Illinois, 62468 in memory of Burnham's beloved dog Fred, or to the Alzheimer's Association, Greater Illinois Chapter, 8430 W. Bryn Mawr, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60631.