Scouts Honor Frank McNeill Sr.
Hundreds gathered last Friday night to honor Aberdeen resident Frank McNeill Sr.
McNeill was named the 2008 Distinguished Citizen by the Moore County District of the Occoneechee Council of Boy Scouts of America.
The banquet was held at the Country Club of North Carolina. Several community leaders -- many of whom were Boy Scouts during his tenure as a Scoutmaster for Aberdeen Troop 68 -- paid tribute to McNeill.
"The Boy Scout Oath has obviously guided Frank through life," Howard Anderson said, recapping much of McNeill's career as owner of McNeill Oil, a veteran of the U.S. Army, Aberdeen commissioner and community leader. "Frank was also a member of the Aberdeen Lions Club, and it's been said that three-quarters of the members today were recruited by him. Wow. It's a true honor to know such a man for 55 years."
John Burns spoke of McNeill as a man of faith.
"I'm proud to speak about Frank and how he serves Jesus Christ," Burns said. "He grew up in Bethesda (Presbyterian Church) and served in many positions as a young man and as a family man."
Burns listed the many roles that McNeill and his wife, Ann, have played in the church leadership.
He was active in the youth group and the Fayetteville Presbytery Youth. He was chairman of District 6, and vice president of the Presbytery Youth Council. Later, he served as Sunday School teacher, Sunday School superintendent, youth adviser, deacon, trustee, and an elder.
Burns said he will always remember McNeill standing on the front porch of the church, "sticking out his right hand of fellowship to welcome everyone coming to the church.
"I've used the word 'served' a lot, and not by accident," Burns said. "Because Frank has served many people and the community, I still seek him out for advice because he always approaches situations with an open mind and open heart. I'm very proud to say he is my uncle. Thank you, Frank, for what you mean to me and what you continue to mean to everyone."
Clifford Feather was a Boy Scout in Troop 68 when McNeill was Scoutmaster.
"After hearing everything Frank did in the community," Feather said, "I wonder where in the world he found the time to be our Scoutmaster. Scouting helped me grow, and Frank played a big role in that.
"When I joined, I had no skills whatsoever or had any idea how to accept in any way a leadership role in anything, but with Frank's help I grew from immaturity to realizing I could assess situations and realize my role in them."
McNeill insisted that Feather become a patrol leader and continue to meet any challenges he faced.
"Those skills I learned taught me how to make timely decisions, and beyond a shadow of a doubt, he helped me graduate college, start a career as an educator and become a family man."
Feather ended his presentation by recalling several special times shared by many during Scouting with McNeill.
"Do you remember all the boys you helped grow and achieve? Because we remember you," he said. "It takes a village to raise a child, and you were a large part of my village."
Feather and several other Scouts presented McNeill with a 1953 photo taken during one of his troop's many outings.
McNeill's sons, David and Frank Jr. then spoke about their father.
"Dad always went out of his way to make our home a fun place to be," Frank Jr. said "Dad always gave us his time and listening tonight, I'm amazed he had any left."
David shared memories of Boy Scout camping trips as well as the many sporting events the four children participated in.
"Dad and Mom were always our biggest fans," he said, "not just in sports and Scouting, but in every aspect of our lives. Dad wasn't afraid to turn us loose, and over the years, he shared our challenges as well as our victories. He raised us with wholesome ideals, and our parents' greatest gift to us was their love for each other."
Frank Jr. ended by saying, "Dad didn't give us expensive gifts. We didn't get cars, or have televisions in our rooms, but we he did give us was priceless: his time."
Rod Frankel, president of the Occoneechee Council, presented McNeill with the 2008 Distinguished Citizen award.
McNeill received a standing ovation as he walked to the podium to accept his award.
"I think all of you for coming out to support the Boy Scout movement," he said. "It has been my good fortune to have a wonderful group of boys and their families. It's been over 50 years since we were meeting and camping, and I'm honored that you've come out. Thank you for sharing this evening with us."
Contact Mary Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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