Samuel Loyd Neal, Jr. (Loyd Neal) went to be with the Lord on July 30, 2022. Loyd was a successful businessman, a tireless public servant, and a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He left an indelible mark on all who knew him. Loyd’s legacy is one of unparalleled devotion, service, leadership, and accomplishment.
Loyd was a loving and supportive husband to his wife, Thetis, for 63 years. They were high school sweethearts who married in their hometown of Paris, Texas, in 1959. With a total of $50.00 between them, the newlyweds embarked on their “honeymoon”-- a two-day drive from Paris to Fort Benning, Georgia, where Loyd reported for active duty and Ranger School.
Loyd worked multiple jobs to pay for college. He received his B.B.A. in Marketing from Texas A&M University, College Station in 1959. While at Texas A&M, Loyd was a member of the Corps of Cadets, a distinguished student, a distinguished military student, and a distinguished military graduate. He later earned an M.B.A. in Business Administration from Texas A&I University in 1973 by attending classes at night and on weekends.
Following his active-duty service, Loyd went to work for Proctor & Gamble in San Antonio “selling soap to grocery stores who already had shelves full of soap.” Loyd and Thetis moved to Corpus Christi in 1963 so that Loyd could begin a career in the insurance industry. Loyd devoted forty years to a highly successful career in insurance, first with Aetna Casualty & Surety Insurance Company and later with W.L. Dinn & Company, Inc., where he became President of the company in 1978. In 1990, W.L. Dinn merged into Hilb, Rogal & Hobbs (“HRH”), a national insurance company. Loyd became the President of HRH Corpus Christi and Executive Vice President of HRH Texas (Texas and Oklahoma) where he remained until he retired in 1997 to pursue public service on a full-time basis.
Loyd’s military service spanned more than 30 years in the active Army and Army Reserve. He retired as a Colonel in 1989. He was a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.
For 60 years, Loyd devoted his “spare” time to improving the lives of others. His service and leadership positions included: President of Texas Municipal League; Chairman of the South Texas Military Facilities Task Force; appointed by Governor George W. Bush to the Texas Strategic Military Planning Commission; appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Military Preparedness Commission; Chancellor of the 21st Century Council-Texas A&M University; Member-College of Liberal Arts Development Council- Texas A&M University; Chairman of the Corpus Christi Economic Development Corporation; Chairman of the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of the Art Museum of South Texas; Chairman of the South Texas Homeport Committee that brought Naval Air Station-Ingleside to South Texas; President of the Corpus Christi Navy League; Chairman of the Leadership Corpus Christi Alumni Association; President of the Corpus Christi Rotary Club; Chairman-Alliance for I-69 Texas; Trustee of the Driscoll Foundation; Chairman of Driscoll Children’s Hospital Board; President’s Council-Texas AM University; President’s Council-Del Mar College; and trustee of the Del Mar College Foundation. Loyd also taught insurance classes as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for 27 years.
In 1997, this accomplished businessman and volunteer leader decided to run for office, believing that he could make a bigger difference in the community if he could serve in a more official capacity. For the next twenty years, the people of Corpus Christi and Nueces County never had a more ardent supporter and advocate than Loyd Neal. Loyd was elected to serve four terms as the Mayor of Corpus Christi from 1998 through 2006. He was then elected to serve as Nueces County Judge for three terms from 2008 to 2018. During his second and third terms as County Judge, Loyd battled myasthenia gravis, a progressive autoimmune neurological disorder, which he openly addressed, but never allowed to dampen his spirit, his enthusiasm, or his visionary leadership.
As Mayor, Loyd was a driving force behind the construction of the American Bank Center Arena and the landmark minor league baseball park for the Houston Astros that became known as Whataburger Field. In 2003, under Loyd’s leadership, Corpus Christi was designated as an “All American City.” As County Judge, Loyd guided Nueces County through Hurricane Harvey and the rebuilding process that followed, among many other accomplishments.
In 1992, Loyd was named a Distinguished Alumnus by Texas A&M University for his service to his city, state, and country. In 2018, Loyd was inducted into the Texas A&M Corps of Cadet Hall of Honor. Over the course of four decades, Loyd received numerous awards for his leadership, service, and accomplishments.
Perhaps Loyd’s greatest passion was his undying love of Texas A&M, Aggie sports, and the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. As a season ticket holder, Loyd and members of his family made the pilgrimage from Corpus Christi (or wherever they were located) to College Station for almost every Aggie home football game for over fifty years. But that wasn’t enough Aggie football. Loyd and members of his family also traveled to over twenty states, including Hawaii, to attend out of town games, making memories in pursuit of an elusive national championship.
Loyd was a long-time member of St. John’s United Methodist Church and later a member of First United Methodist Church. In the 1970s, he started an elementary school basketball program at St. James Episcopal School and he coached youth baseball teams for six years in the Padre Little League. He also served as the President of Booster Clubs at Tom Browne Junior High and Carroll High School. Whenever either of his children competed in a sport or participated in any extra-curricular activity, Loyd was there, front and center, as their biggest supporter.
Loyd is survived by his wife, Thetis, his daughter, Ann Margaret Neal Eddy, his son, Samuel Loyd Neal, III, and his daughter-in-law, Karla Johnson Neal. Known as “Pop,” Loyd is also survived by his seven grandchildren, Kendall Lauren Eddy, Leyton James Eddy, Logan Dempsey Eddy, Krista Shari Eddy, Samuel Loyd Neal, IV, Sterling Thomas Neal, and Savannah Grace Neal, and by his two great- grandchildren, Penelope Marguerite Neal and Dorothy Collins Neal.
Visitation will be held from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, August 5, 2022, at Seaside Funeral Home, 4357 Ocean Dr., Corpus Christi, Texas.
A Service to Celebrate the Life of Loyd Neal will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 7, 2022, at the Performing Arts Center at Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Dr. #5723, Corpus Christi, Texas.
Loyd will be buried at the Aggie Field of Honor & Memorial Cemetery, 3800 Raymond Stotzer Pkwy, College Station, Texas, on Monday, August 8, 2022, following a graveside service that will begin at 10:00 a.m.
All are invited and welcome to attend visitation and both services.