Hundreds of people from all walks of life gathered at the Trinity Cathedral in Monrovia last Saturday for the funeral of Mrs. Juanita Mason Neal, described as a “patriot” and committed servant of the Episcopal Church. She died on June 26, 2016 at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra,
Ghana after a protracted battle with cancer.
Leading the bereaved family were her husband, Dr. William Taylor Neal, five children, Karngar, Tonia, Keturah, Ruthie and their spouses from the United States; William Neal, Jr., her brother, Jonathan A. Mason and scores of other relatives.
The funeral service was attended by past and present members of the Liberian government led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, members of civil society groups, the Cancer Society of which the deceased was an advocate and active member, and many other sympathizers.
In his funeral discourse the Most Reverend Jonathan B. B. Hart, Archbishop of the Internal Province of West Africa, declared that “the strife was over for the late Juanita Mason-Neal.” Archbishop Hart spoke ardently of Mrs. Neal as a faithful church member who lived in fear of God and gave her life to His service. He praised her dedication, stating that she was always available whenever the church needed her services, even in times of financial difficulties.
Mrs. Neal was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Episcopal Church of Liberia and also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the B.W. Harris Episcopal School.
The Episcopal Church of Liberia and the Trinity Cathedral Family in their tribute praised Mrs. Mason-Neal for her determination and ability to get things done. Because of her hard work and commitment over the years to the Episcopal Church and Christianity in general she will be greatly missed, the tribute stated.
Mrs. Neal was remembered and eulogized by her friends and admirers in Liberia and the United States as a person who loved her church and devoted all the time she could in order to improve it. According to people who were close to her, she smiled a lot, and always empathized with people. She showed courage, faith and tenacity throughout her illness.
Mrs. Neal also served in several capacities in government. An Official Gazette published by the Government of Liberia and read at the funeral, referred to her as a patriot, administrator, entrepreneur, investment consultant, international servant, devout Christian, and a dedicated public servant.
Mrs. Mason-Neal was born on May 9, 1947 in Monrovia, and commenced her childhood education at the Episcopal Church School in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County. She later enrolled at the College of West Africa where she graduated valedictorian of her class in 1964. In pursuit of higher education, Juanita traveled to the United States in 1969 and studied at the Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree (Bsc).
According to the Liberia Official Gazette, she went on to achieve a Master of Science degree (Msc) from Harvard University, also in Massachusetts. She later returned home and served as Deputy Minister for Revenue, Deputy Minister for Expenditure, and Commissioner for Income Tax at the Ministry of Finance (now Ministry of Finance & Development Planning). A notable achievement during her tenure as Deputy Minister of Revenue was the completion of the New Revenue Code of Liberia Phase One, in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Over a span of 40 years, Mrs. Neal served as an able employer and employee in both public and private sectors, according to the Gazette.
Mrs. Neal was buried in Virginia Township, outside Monrovia.