Jan 16th 1988 - Jul 30th 2012
With a life that ended much too soon, Zachary Neal had the world by the tail. He was a live wire, a free spirited, and hardworking young man who was also a bit of a ladies’ man to boot. There was nowhere Zack loved being more than in the great outdoors that was home to so many of the passions that were a staple in his life throughout his entire journey. He told us the best stories, he made us laugh, and he made it possible for each one of us to enjoy life every bit as much as he did whenever he was near. Although his time here came to a sudden end, the impact he made in the world around him is as significant as those who have been given decades in which to compose their life’s song.
It seems only fitting that Zack’s story begins during a time that was as colorful as he was. This was a time when technology was booming, bringing us the camcorder, the personal computer, and the first reusable spacecraft. The Cosbys, the Arnolds, and the Simpsons made their way into American living rooms while Madonna and Michael Jackson forever transformed the cultural fabric of our nation. Nestled within this vibrant time was the year 1988 that brought much to celebrate in the lives of a young couple from Kalamazoo, Michigan, as they welcomed a healthy baby boy into their hearts and home on January 16th. Zachary Conrad-Jarome Neal was greeted by his parents, Michael Northern and Tina Neal at 12:41 p.m. in Kalamazoo’s Bronson Hospital.
Zack, as he was usually known, hit the ground running right from the start. He wrestled, participated in Rocket football, and also began hunting with his Grandpa Conrad at a very young age. The first thing Zack hunted was a woodchuck, and he was so very proud of his achievement.
As a student Zack attended local schools where he was well known among his peers, his teachers, and the staff alike. It was usually his antics that made him so well known as he was a master of pranks of all kinds. At times his mouth also got him into a bit of trouble because Zack always liked to have the last word. He even had the opportunity to foster a relationship with his high school principal on more than one occasion! He graduated from Vicksburg High School in 2006.
In his free time Zack was a young man with numerous interests. An avid outdoorsman who would have loved to get out to hunt and fish every day if he had things his way. Zack’s Redbone Coonhounds were an integral part of his hunting experiences. He has been described as an old country boy down to his core who loved country music, his boat, and trucks - and the bigger and louder the trucks were the better as far as he was concerned. Zack was a John Deere man all the way who loved watching and participating in truck pulling. When it came to his favorite foods Zack loved anything with garlic and looked forward to the Christmas season when he could enjoy venison and ham rolls. When eating out he was usually on the lookout for a dive of some kind where he could enjoy a cheap, greasy burger. As his friends and family can attest, another interest of Zack’s was women, and it has been said that he was quite the ladies’ man.
Although he would have loved to just goof around all day, Zack actually did enjoy his work, too. He worked as a truck driver for B&T Partnership where he was the best truck driver they ever had - at least according to Zack. He loved working for Ben and Shawn Fritz. Ben always treated Zack well, allowing him time off to go hunting and fishing as long as it didn’t interfere with completing his work. His boss also graciously gave him his job back after he worked for a different company for a brief time. Zack had currently been living with his grandparents whose home was closer to work, which enabled him to sleep in longer in the mornings!
The list of things that made Zack such an extraordinary young man who was so easy to love is extensive. Not only was he the life of the party wherever he went, but he also had an infectious smile and an inviting, fun-loving personality that drew others to him with ease. Zack always told the best stories and seemed to have a great joke appropriate for any and every situation. He wasn’t really a morning person, which often resulted in him getting out the door behind schedule.
A vibrant, funny, and outgoing man, Zachary Neal was a true gift in the lives of so many within his reach. He was content in whatever life brought, and he has been described as someone with champagne taste on a beer budget. Zack treasured his family and friends and loved nothing more than being outdoors pursuing the things he loved. With a life full of so much promise, he was taken from his friends and loved ones far before his time. Zack will be deeply missed while the memories he leaves behind remain forever near and dear to the hearts of all those he touched.
Zachary “Zack” Conrad-Jarome Neal of Fulton died on Monday, July 30, 2012. Zack’s family includes his mother: Tina (Richard) Lowe, of Vicksburg; father: Michael (Debbie) Northern, of Plainwell; five sisters: Taylor and Baylee Lowe, both of Vicksburg; Amelia, Gabrielle, and Mary Northern, all of Plainwell; Grandparents: Conrad and Carolyn Richards, of Fulton; Virginia Mock, of Baldwin. Zack is also survived by his aunt: Tammy (Wes) Breen, of Vicksburg; two uncles: Derek Mock, of Baldwin; Shain (Shawna) Mock, of Kalamazoo; cousins: Laura and Chance Breen and many other special family members and friends. Zack is preceded in death by his grandfather: Bobby Dean; grandparents: Lela and Gary Johnson; great grandparents: Juanita & George Kemp and Wayne & Ruby Richards; and a great uncle: Jimmy "Tiger" Kemp. The family will receive friends on Sunday, from 2 to 5 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697). The funeral service will be held on Monday, August 6, 2012 at 11 AM at the Vicksburg Community Schools Performing Arts Center located at the high school, 501 East Highway, Vicksburg, MI. Pastor Karen Wheat will be officiating. The burial will be at the North Fulton Cemetery. Please visit Zack’s webpage on www.lifestorynet.com where you may also leave a memory or sign the online guestbook. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to the United Kennel Club (UKC).