Neal Strange

WINDHAM — Neal Strange, 87, died on May 21, 2011, at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough.

He was born in Portland on March 3, 1924, the son of Portland dentist and aviation pioneer, Dr. Clifford Strange and Alice (Johnson) Strange. Neal grew up on the Stroudwater Flying Field, which was established and operated by his father, and later became the Portland International Jetport.

Neal was born to fly. His father gave him his first airplane, a Heath Parasol, when he was nine years old. He taxied it back and forth on the runway. He took his first solo flight at age 15 in an Aeronca 50 and went on to fly B-17s in the Army Air Corps in WWII as a Second Lieutenant.

After the service, Neal returned to Maine, where he met Ervette (Eppie) Jordan on a blind date. They married in 1947 and raised a family of one daughter and five sons in the Stroudwater section of Portland near the airport.

Neal was a gifted mechanic and auto-body repairman. He ran several garages and service stations, worked at Maine Motors on Forest Avenue for a number of years, and operated his own shop. In 1977, he became a teacher at the Portland Regional Vocational Technical Center (now PATHS), where he taught general trades and auto-body repair until he retired in 1989.

Neal was a founding member of the Maine Aviation Historical Society and contributed many articles sharing his knowledge and experiences in its publication, The Dirigo Flyer.

Neal’s love of aviation, his interest in history and his remarkable talent as a natural musician are gifts he delighted in sharing with his children and grandchildren.

From 1982 until moving to Windham in 2008, Neal and Eppie enjoyed living on Crescent Lake in Raymond, which was a wonderful gathering spot for their large family. Neal kept his prized 1946 Aeronca Champion seaplane there in the summer and loved to take everyone up “for a spin.’

Devoted to his family, Neal made each of his children and grandchildren feel special and loved. He especially enjoyed times when three generations of his family played music together.

Neal was predeceased by his son, Glenn, a Maine State Trooper, who died in the line of duty in 1997.

In addition to his wife of 64 years, Eppie, Neal is survived by his sister Beth Chaves of Virginia Beach, Va.; his daughter Gail Thompson of Portland; his sons Keith of Lincoln, Eric of Frederick, Md., Mark of Fryeburg and Joel of Lovell; 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A funeral service was held on Tuesday, May 31, at Dolby Funeral Chapel, 434 River Road, Windham. The family requests that there be no visiting hours. For online condolences, please visit the website at www.dolbyfuneralchapels.com

Memorial gifts may be sent to: Maine Aviation Historical Society, 99 Maine Avenue, Bangor, ME, 04401 or to The Animal Refuge League, P.O. Box 336, Westbrook, ME 04098.

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