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Former General Tire president Neal dies

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(Photo courtesy of Webner House) Gilbert Neal is shown in an ad promoting new products from General Tire & Rubber Co.

NAPLES, Fla. (March 13, 2014) — Former General Tire & Rubber Co. President Gilbert Neal died on March 8 at age 82 in Naples.

Mr. Neal worked for Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. for more than 25 years, beginning as a salesman and rising to president of Firestone Steel Products. He also was branch manager of Firestone Interamerica Co. in Puerto Rico; managing director of Firestone de la Argentina S.A.I.C. 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, Mr. Neal was named president of General Tire and continued in that capacity after the company was bought by Continental A.G. in 1987 until his retirement in 1989.

Mr. Neal and his wife Barbara 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.


For a fond family recollection of Mr. Neal written by a member of the Webner family, click here.

In it, the writer notes that, “to the rest of the world, he was the accomplished tire company executive who had a globe-spanning business career that culminated in the presidency of General Tire. To our branch of the Webner clan, though, he was simply known at ‘UG’—pronounced ‘Ugg,’—and short for Uncle Gilbert.”

He also was a passionate golfer and an avid sports fan and longtime follower of the Cleveland Indians and Browns teams. He also enjoyed playing cards, including euchre and bridge and loved music, as a listener, sometime-singer and energetic piano player, according to an obituary in the Naples Daily News.

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, the News said.

Mr. Neal was born in Akron and graduated from the University of Akron, where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. After graduation, He married Barbara (Llewellyn) Neal and began a long and successful business career in the tire and rubber industry.

Mr. Neal was preceded in death by Barbara, his wife of 51 years; and his parents Gilbert and Maude (Brown) Neal.

He is survived his four children: Margaret (Neal) Wallace and husband David; Beth (Neal) Boyce and husband Craig; Gilbert W. Neal and wife Maryann; and David Neal and wife Staci; eight grandchildren; and his sister Agnes (Neal) Webner.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggested donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association , Greater East Ohio Area Chapter, 70 West Streetsboro Street, Suite 201, Hudson, Ohi 44236, or online at the association’s website.

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 FL 34110.

The family said a memorial service in celebration of Mr. Neal’s life will be held in Akron at a date to be announced.


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