It is with deep, profound, and abiding sadness, the Chestertown VFC announces the untimely passing of long-time, Life Member Darlene Neal on Saturday, January 27, 2024… late in the evening. She had been in Mercy Hospital on the western shore, struggling to overcome cancer when complications set in.
Supporters of the fire company will remember we held a drive-thru Pit Beef Fund Raiser for the Neal family, earlier… during the day. The fund-raiser was an overwhelming success. As a demonstration of the admiration and great esteem the community has for Darlene, we completely sold out in just over an hour after sales started. The money raised will help the family with expenses. On behalf of the Neal family, we thank all of you for your support.
Darlene joined the Chestertown VFC as a member of the Ladies Auxiliary, about 1969. When it comes to the Chestertown VFC, she was “All-In”! She was supportive of all our activities, doing whatever is needed, whatever she could do, to ensure our success. During her time here, Darlene served many terms as Auxiliary President and as Auxiliary Secretary.
Throughout the years, whenever we’ve been working a large, time-consuming, dirty, gritty, emergency incident, we could count on Darlene to show up with the Auxiliary, providing food and refreshments. It was as sure as the rising sun! Speaking from experience, to see the Auxiliary show up with water, coffee, sandwiches, etc. It was, and is, a welcome respite from the grind of mitigating the situation. While the food and refreshments succor the body, the accompanying banter with the women and men of the Auxiliary is like a shot in the arm. It certainly boosts morale, providing the impetus to get back in there, and finish the job.
While all of us in the fire company are close associates with a common bond, linked by firefighting activities, many of us are also close friends. Darlene’s light-hearted, easygoing, friendly manner endeared herself to all, no matter how long you might have known her. While it could be this writer, who knew her for close to fifty years, or literally someone she’s just meeting for the first time, her ability to put at-ease everyone was remarkable. This writer has seen it first-hand, where at large, working incidents, firefighters from some remote company we rarely work with, if at all, come to get food & refreshment. Even though she didn’t know them, she greeted them with open arms, putting them at-ease, encouraging them to rest and relax. Within seconds, there would be smiles and jokes all around.
At this writing, arrangements are incomplete. When they become available, we’ll share them here on this page, along with a complete obituary.