TURBOTVILLE — The impact Linda McNeal had on the Warrior Run School District will continue to be felt for generations to come through a scholarship being established in her memory.
The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation recently announced the creation of the Linda McNeal Scholarship, under the umbrella of the Warrior Run Education Foundation.
McNeal, who retired in 2012 after serving as the district's business manager, passed away Nov. 11. She was 70.
The scholarship will be awarded annually to a Warrior Run graduating senior who is pursuing a certification or degree at a trade school. Special consideration will be given to students who have gained confidence and motivation to pursue a career path through the encouragement of a teacher or mentor.
Dr. John Kurelja, a former district superintendent and now assistant executive director at the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (CSIU), worked directly with McNeal during his time at Warrior Run.
"(McNeal) was with me when we first established the Warrior Run Education Foundation," Kurelja said. "She helped the foundation get off the ground... She was really helpful in figuring out the logistics of how that was going to be (operated)."
Sarah Kowalski, a retired Warrior Run administrator who worked directly with McNeal while serving as assistant superintendent, has also been involved with the foundation since its inception.
"Before the foundation, the scholarship money was invested in regular bonds, securities," Kowalski recalled. "The district... was looking for a much better return on their money, so we could provide better scholarships. Linda, she would try to find those places, those organizations, that would best help us do that."
She said McNeal organized numerous meetings between financial management entities and committee members involved in establishing the Warrior Run Education Foundation.
"(McNeal) would take notes and really help to come up with what was the best option for the committee to take back to the larger group," Kowalski said. "She was very savvy with numbers, always looking to get the best deal, the best return for the dollar."
According to Kurelja, McNeal worked her way up from being a classroom computer aide to business manager.
"She had a great impact on many leaders of the district over the years she was there," he said. "She worked for three different superintendents and did a wonderful job."
Kurelja said McNeal was particularly helpful to him when he first became superintendent.
"She did whatever was necessary, including coming to jump (start) my car at 11 o'clock at night after a (school) board meeting," he said.
Kurelja praised McNeal for the work she did with the district.
"We had a thing with each other where we liked to call each other boring," he recalled. "Boring people meant you came to work every single day, you were professional and kept everything in perspective. You were diligent with your job.
"She was kind of old school that way, a very strong work ethic."
Kowalski said McNeal always went "above and beyond" with her work.
"If somebody had a problem, she would do whatever she could to solve that," she said. "She would investigate all the possibilities, look into everything to see what solution she could come up with. She was very bright and did a lot of negotiating with vendors and that kind of thing, always looking for the best price."
Throughout her tenure with Warrior Run, Kowalski said McNeal likely saved the district "thousands of dollars."
"She also had a very fun side," Kowalki said, of McNeal. "She knew how to joke and how to put people at ease.
"I think that served her very well in all the positions that she had," Kowalski continued. "I remember her laugh, she had a tremendous laugh... She could be very official, but she also had that fun side to her."
Current Superintendent Dr. Alan Hack did not work with McNeal, but is aware of the work she did with the district.
"Linda had a tremendous impact on the school district and community," Hack said. "She dedicated much of her life to the school. She was well loved by staff, and there is no doubt that her heart bled blue and gray.
"This scholarship is a fitting tribute to her memory and the legacy she is leaving behind in our community."
The release issued by the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation said McNeal's family and friends felt that creating a scholarship fund was "the perfect way" to honor her memory and passion for Warrior Run.
According to information provided by the school district, McNeal was hired Sept. 25, 1985, to work as a library aide in the district. She subsequently worked as a curriculum secretary, and in 1992 was hired as the district office manager.
She served as the district's business manager and board secretary from November 2004 until retiring Sept. 4, 2012.
McNeal, who lived in Delaware Township, is survived by: Her husband, David; daughter and son-in-law Megan and Terry Tanner; son Keith; and three grandchildren, Tucker, Kolton and Austin McNeal.
Contributions can be made to the Linda McNeal Scholarship Fund online at csgiving.org (click "Donate" and search “McNeal”), or mail to the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, Attn: Linda McNeal Scholarship Fund, 725 West Front St., Berwick, PA 18603.
Warrior Run Education Foundation partners with the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization which manages nearly 300 charitable funds and makes grant investments throughout the region to improve the quality of life in the Central Susquehanna area.
For more information, visit csgiving.org or call the foundation at 866-454-6692.