Cover photo for Wendell Austin Neal's Obituary
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Wendell Austin Neal

April 5, 1943 — November 29, 2023

Brandon, MS

Wendell Austin Neal

Wendell Austin Neal, 80, a resident of Brandon, MS, passed away on Wednesday, November 29, 2023. He was born in Morton, MS on April 5, 1943 and with the exception of a few years of education and employment, lived his entire life in the state of Mississippi.  

 

Wendell graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Louisiana State University with a Master’s degree in Wildlife Management. While attending Northwestern, he met and married the former Dorothy Mae Cox with whom he later welcomed and raised his three children.  

 

Wendell spent his career working as a biologist and specialist of endangered species. While employed by the Mississippi State Game and Fish Commission, and in the face of much opposition, he pioneered the implementation of the first “Doe Days” in Mississippi which served as the initial deer management program for the state. Deer seasons in effect today were established as a result of this program.

 

While employed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Wendell authored the first alligator management program for the state of Mississippi. His work as an expert was often credited in articles and discussions on the successful recovery and removal of the alligator from the endangered species list. 

 

In his late 40’s, Wendell married the former Thalia Box Sanders. Upon his retirement from the USFWS, he and Thalia opened a successful private practice where they provided Endangered Species Act consulting services to development corporations in the southeastern United States.  During this time, he worked to ensure habitat protection for the gopher tortoise and Alabama beach mouse.   

 

Wildlife and resource conservation was a lifelong passion for Wendell. He was an avid outdoorsman and hunter and remained an excellent shot clear into his late 70’s. He had dreamed of hunting dangerous game in Africa from the time he was just a boy.  During his lifetime, he had the opportunity to do so on several occasions. He enjoyed multiple trips to other continents and countries, most of which were for hunting purposes. 

 

In December, 2021, Wendell was diagnosed with liver cancer which would become the hardest fight of his life. Twenty-three months later, after a courageous battle, he succumbed to his condition and slipped away peacefully at home. His outgoing, entertaining, and magnetic personality will be greatly missed. He was deeply loved by all his family and friends.    

 

Wendell is survived by his wife, Thalia Box Sanders Neal; three children, Sheelah Sharee Neal Brewer (Jimmy Hankins), Mark Jason Neal (Jennifer) and Kendell Charlotte Neal Churchwell (Jason); two grandchildren, Summer Elizabeth and Preston Charles Churchwell; brother, Thomas Webber Neal (Lorna); two nieces, Natalie Neal (William Nephew) and Ashley Neal (Lloyd Anderson); one nephew, Jonathan Payne (America’); two grand-nieces, two grand-nephews, and brother-in-law Robert Box (Jan High). Wendell is preceded in death by his parents, Charles Braxton Neal and Ida Mae Dukes Neal; sister, Mary Lou Payne; grandson, Jason David Neal; nephew, Jeffrey Glenn Pollard; and stepson, William Dion Sanders.

 

Visitation will be held on Saturday December 9, 2023, from 9am-11am at Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Brandon, MS. A memorial service will be held at 11am on Saturday December 9, 2023, at the Ott & Lee Funeral Home Chapel in Brandon, MS.

 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Wendell Austin Neal, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, December 9, 2023

9:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Ott & Lee Funeral Homes- Brandon

1360 W Government St, Brandon, MS 39042

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Saturday, December 9, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Ott & Lee Funeral Homes- Brandon

1360 W Government St, Brandon, MS 39042

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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