Health & Senior Living

Dexter couple mark 65th anniversary

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    DEXTER — To say that Maurice and Corinne Neal have lived life to its fullest is an understatement.
    They’ve operated businesses on the East and West Coast.
    They’ve made six trips to Nicaragua to help build a church and Habitat For Humanity homes in the Central America nation.

HSL-Neal-DC-PO-38Observer photo/Mike Lange

    MANY HAPPY MEMORIES — Maurice and Corinne Neal of Dexter recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

    Maurice is an ordained minister who has owned and operated funeral homes in Skowhegan, Guilford and Dexter. He is also a licensed plumber, electrician and finish carpenter.
    While Maurice was serving as the town’s cemetery sexton in the 1990s, Corinne ran the Dexter Café for 15 years and also opened the Town Line Drive-In in Abbot.
    On Aug. 13, the couple observed their 65th wedding anniversary. “You can say that we haven’t had many dull moments in our life,” said Maurice, 86, with a grin.
    The only thing that slows him down today is his failing eyesight due to macular degeneration. “I can’t drive anymore, but we still keep as active as we can,” he said.
    Today, they live in a comfortable apartment over Crosby-Neal Funeral Home on High Street in Dexter. The business was founded by Corinne’s father, Elwyn Crosby, and that sparked Maurice’s interest in the field.
    “We were high school sweethearts, but we didn’t get married until I finished my first hitch in the Navy,” Maurice said. “I was actually offered an appointment to Annapolis, but turned it down because I would have had a five-year service commitment. Corinne said she was willing to wait for me for three years, but not another five.”
    After the couple was married at First Baptist Church in Dexter, Maurice went to embalming school in Boston and the couple purchased the Clay Funeral Home in Skowhegan in 1949. After the birth of their son, Peter, in 1951, Maurice was recalled from the Navy Reserves and assigned to the U.S. Tarawa as radar section chief.
    They started a monument company in 1956 and moved to Guilford 10 years later where they founded another funeral home.
    It was also the time when the couple became involved in ministry and started the Baptist Church in Guilford with the help of two other couples and their four teenage children. Eventually, their commitment would take them out west and beyond.
    Their oldest daughter, Shelia, and her husband, Steve, were missionaries and living in Osburn, Idaho, said Corinne. “We had the opportunity to sell our home, so we moved to Idaho to help with Sheila and Steve’s children,” she recalled.
    In 1979, they volunteered to reopen a church in Kittitas, Washington that had been closed for three years and leased a restaurant in town to get involved in the community.
    Maurice worked for local farmers, built cabinets, installed solar heating and did many other jobs to supplement their income. “But every restaurant we managed was successful,” said Corinne, 85.
    After their final trip to Nicaragua, the Neals moved back to Maine where Maurice served as cemetery sexton for 21 years and as an interim minister. “I’ve preached in 23 different churches,” said Maurice.
    In addition to their four children, the Neals have 14 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter. “I think we’ve been everywhere and did everything we’ve wanted,” said Maurice, “and we’ve been blessed.”

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