Longtime Nevada State Sen. Joseph M. Neal, Jr., dies
Former Las Vegas State Sen. Joseph M. Neal, Jr., died on New Year’s Eve.
“My Dad, after a long-fought battle, succumbed to an illness,” stated his daughter, Sen. Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas. “He passed away at 10:25 p.m. Dec. 31 at Dignity Health, Sienna Campus, in Henderson, where he received the best care, surrounded by family.”
Neal, the first Africa-American state senator, served from 1972 to 2004.
He ran for governor unsuccessfully two times. In 2002, he won the Democratic nomination but lost to Gov. Kenny Guinn.
“He was the best who ever was,” said former campaign manager Andrew Barbano of Reno. “He was absolutely fearless and often went against the grain of ‘the overlords’ as he termed them. His Neal Care proposal, which he unveiled in his 2002 campaign for governor, with a few tweaks, is now known as Obamacare.”
Neal was born in Mounds, La., on July 28, 1935. He graduated from Southern University in 1963 with a degree in political science and history.
“The Silver State has lost a great statesman with the passage of Sen. Joe Neal,” State Sen. James Settelmeyer tweeted.
Neal’s major legislative accomplishments came with the 1981 high-rise fire sprinkler bill, the toughest in the nation, which he introduced after the disastrous MGM Grand conflagration of 1980, Barbano said.
Neal was honored with a Lifetime Commitment Award from the Nevada State AFL-CIO and induction to the Nevada State Senate Hall of Fame and César Chávez NevadaLabor.com Hall of Fame.
He is survived by children Charisse, Tania, Withania, Dina and Joseph; 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.