Eleanor “Midge” Leona Neal, 80, passed away Oct. 8 in Albuquerque. She was born Dec. 3, 1935, in Pontiac, Mich., to the late Elmer and Zelma (Stickney) Shafer. On May 29, 1971 she married William Neal. Eleanor was a longtime resident of Estancia and a member of the Mountain Springs Baptist Church in Albuquerque. She was also preceded in death by her son, Billy “William” Ayers; brother, Robert Shafer; and sisters Jean and Faye. Eleanor is survived by her husband William Neal of Estancia; sons, James Neal, Kenneth Neal, Frank Ayers, Elmer Ayers, Charlie Ayers and Mark Ayers; daughters, Peggy Debruyn and Bettie Sarpas; brother, Carl Shafer; 22 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. A funeral service is scheduled Oct. 14 at Harris-Hanlon Mortuary in Moriarty at 11 a.m., with Pastor John Nash to officiate. Interment will be at the McIntosh Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Kenneth Neal, Frank Ayers, Mark Ayers, Elmer Ayers, Charlie Ayers and Isaac Ayers.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]