NEW SHARON — Marilyn B. Neal, 74, of New Sharon died on Saturday, June 3, at home. Her husband and sons were with her.

Marilyn was born on April 9, 1943, in Wichita, Kan. She was adopted by Mary and Art Bower of Fairview, Okla., who reared and nurtured her. Marilyn graduated in 1961 from Fairview High School and in 1969 from the University of Missouri – Kansas City with a degree in theater. She also attended William Woods University in Fulton, Mo., Oklahoma City University and the University of Tulsa. When she embarked on a semester at the University of the Seven Seas, she found her life’s mate, Bob Neal, whose sister had been her best friend at William Woods.

She and Bob married on July 3, 1965. They had two sons, Robbie and Chris. Through 15 nomadic years, Marilyn and the family lived in Kansas City, Montreal, Allentown, Pa., and Oxford and Warren, Ohio. When Bob discovered he had a farming gene, they settled in 1980 in New Sharon. In 1986, Marilyn and Bob shifted the farm’s emphasis to turkeys, and they built it into Maine’s largest turkey farm. They retired in 2015.

While they built up the farm, Marilyn was the family’s major breadwinner for 13 years, looking after records and staffing at a home-health agency. She also worked at C.F. Hathaway Shirt and at Keyes Fibre, both in Waterville. The farm was strong enough by 2005 that she could “retire.” But there was still a house to run, and she also became the farm’s maker of turkey pies. Rising sales proved that no one made turkey pies better than Marilyn. She also helped vaccinate turkeys, serve customers and help at farmers markets and fairs.

Just before she retired from home health, Marilyn found her birth family and spent a week getting to know four half-sisters in the Pacific Northwest. Marilyn was diagnosed in 2007 with advanced ovarian cancer. With surgery, chemo and prayer, she fought for nearly a decade. In April, she chose to end treatment and accept that it was time to go.

At the New Sharon Congregational Church, Marilyn was a deacon and then a trustee and was its musician. She served nearly 15 years on the New Sharon Library board and was deputy town clerk/collector until the cancer made work too difficult.

She is survived by her husband, Bob Neal; sons, Robert B. Neal of New Sharon and Christopher A. Neal of Portland; and daughter-in-law, Rachel Cormier of Portland. She also leaves a brother, Bruce (Linda) Bower, of Bethany, Okla.; half-sisters, Mikell Adair of East Wenatchee, Wash., Troy May of Broadbent, Ore., Lesley Porter of Redmond, Wash., and Jamie Gunn of Beaverton, Ore.; a dear cousin, Noel Frederici of Oklahoma City; sisters- and brothers-in-law, Elizabeth and Don Neitz of West Melbourne, Fla., and Carol Hannah and Bill Piper of Rice Lake, Wis.; two nieces; and four nephews.

Marilyn and her family thank Dr. Christopher Darus and nurse practitioner Hans Bowder at Maine Medical Center and the nurses and CNAs at the IV therapy center, all in Scarborough, who helped Marilyn through nearly 10 years of cancer, and the nurses at Androscoggin Hospice who helped care for her during her final two weeks.

Condolences may be sent for the family at www.adamsmcfarlane.com.

Marilyn B. Neal

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