Leon Lawson Neel
(March 29, 1909-Feb. 17, 2001)
No doubt every community across the country can look back in time and identify one or more of its citizens who stand out among all others as having played a key role in shaping its future and forging its character. We are fortunate to live in a community which has had more than its fair share of such visionary leaders and, unquestionably, Leon Lawson Neel would be counted among their numbers.
Lawson lived a life that was quantitatively and qualitatively long and full. In virtually every phase of his life, he was the consummate leader: as quarterback of Thomasville’s first championship varsity football team, as a highly decorated Army Captain in WWII, as Chairman of the Board of the business that bore his family name, as a distinguished member of the Georgia State Legislature and Senate, and—along with his beloved wife, Josie—in years of devoted service to his church in many roles including that of Sunday school teacher and Trustee.
Among the many tangible examples of Lawson Neel’s indelible mark on our community is the preserved beauty and vitality of downtown Thomasville. Lawson was passionate about the preservation of the downtown shopping area, and so strong and positive was his influence that he was known to all as “Mr. Thomasville.”
As much as he loved Thomasville, Lawson Neel loved the people of this community even more. Though he would never have sought the acclaim, we believe that the naming of the MedBank in his memory and honor is a fitting tribute to this exceptional gentleman.