|Raphael Augustine Neale, Jr.
The Signal, July 23, 2016
Raphael Augustine Neale Jr 1916 – 2016
Comforted by loving family members, Raphael Augustine Neale Jr passed away in the
early morning hours of Thursday, June 23, 2016. Ray was just seven weeks away from
celebrating his 100th birthday before departing this world on his final flight.
Born in Chattanooga, TN on August 14, 1916, Ray was the eldest of five children to
Raphael A. Neale Sr and Mary Louis Herbert of Maryland. The financial strains of the
Great Depression brought the family to Washington, D.C. where Ray earned his pilot's
license while attending Central High School (1934). Upon graduation he became a
flight instructor at Washington's Congressional Airport where he met his most prized
student, the love of his life and future wife, Mary Lou Colbert.
Again, as with many of his generation, world affairs intervened with the natural flow of life.
World War II took Ray to Pensacola, FL where he served as a flight instructor until his
transfer to the Pacific Theater. Mary Lou went on to become a pioneer in women's
military aviation, serving as one of the first volunteers in the Women's Airforce Service
Pilots (WASPs). While in the Pacific, Ray flew medical evacuation missions in the epic
battles of the Second World War. By War's end he had earned two air medals and a
gold star received for flying ten evacuation missions during combat operations on
In May of 1946 Ray and Mary Lou were married in St. Ignatius Church in Charles County,
MD. The next several years saw the young couple move around the country as Ray took
on civilian flying jobs, ranging from stints with non-scheduled start-up airlines to crop-
dusting. These years were times of hope, happiness and adventure for the two.
In 1949 Ray was returned to active duty to serve in the historic Berlin Airlift. After the
successful lifting of the Blockade and conclusion of the airlift, Ray again pursued a
civilian aviation career, this time with the Flying Tigers Air Lines, only to be called back to
active duty once again for the Korean War. While stationed in Honolulu, HI Ray and Mary
Lou began a family with the birth of a son, Stephen, and a daughter, Denise.
Following the conclusion of hostilities, Ray returned to civilian life and moved his young
family to Northridge, CA in 1954, where he became Chief Production Test Pilot for
Lockheed Burbank. After the birth of another son, James, and daughter, Michelle, Ray
relocated the family to Newhall, CA in 1960. There, Ray and Mary Lou would raise their
family and remain for the rest of their lives.
After retiring from Lockheed in 1977, Ray and Mary Lou would enjoy foreign travel and
many excursions in their camper van. Ray was beloved and respected by all who met
him. His gracious and positive outlook on life were an inspiration to many as he
continued to make new friendships and win hearts up into the final weeks of his life.
However, the true joys of his last year were the hours he spent playing with his newly born
great granddaughter. The two formed a bond symbolized by an infant's hand wrapped
around the steady finger of an old Navy pilot and communicated in nursery songs and
baby chatter. It was pure love that spanned a century.
Captain Ray Neale was preceded in death by his beloved Mary Lou.
He is survived by sons Stephen and James; daughters Denise Jensen and Michelle
Bruyere; grandchildren: Christina Misas, Mathew Dugan, Monique Fricke, Garrett Fricke
and great-granddaughter Maleah Misas.
A funeral mass is planned at 9:30am on Friday, July 29, 2016 at Our Lady of Perpetual
Help Catholic Church, 23233 Lyons Ave, Newhall, CA 91321 and a graveside ceremony
with military honors will follow at Eternal Valley, 23287 Sierra Hwy, Newhall. Reception to