Neal C. Lauron passed away in his home on September 14 with his family by his side. He was a devoted son, husband, father, brother and friend. His love for his family was second only to his love for the Lord. Neal’s life centered around being the best husband he could be to his wife of 33 years, Elizabeth, attending every activity and milestone event for his beloved sons Daniel (23 years) and Zachary (21 years), and sharing his faith with his men’s group, Sunday school group and everywhere he served. Neal was a great friend and neighbor helping in any way he could from taking people to doctor’s appointments, helping them move, giving graphic design or photography advice, trimming their trees, or returning neighbors trash cans on trash day. He showed our world to everyone in unique and special ways through the lens of his camera.
He had an indelible personality that was gregarious, funny, intense and engaging. He was able to
make friends with anyone he met and is lovingly remembered for how he could meet someone
for the first time in public somewhere and could make them feel so comfortable that they would
be sharing their life story within 10 minutes of meeting him. He consistently went above and
beyond in helping people. When there was no school on a snow day, he and his sons would
head out and help clear peoples’ driveways. With Christ as his model, he would help friends and
even strangers in this kindhearted way.
He was a loving son, brother and uncle and was truly adored by his parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. He was always willing to listen to people’s dilemmas and was generous in giving godly advice and sharing wisdom he gained over the years and was humble to share them from his own mistakes. He was confident in his skills and knowledge as a photographer and graphic designer and would never hesitate to share all he knew to help someone take a better picture, design a better advertisement, or encourage them in their journey to becoming the best in their field. He took the time to know people and learn what they did and was always encouraging. Neal was one of those people that left a smile or a
feeling of peace or desire to do better with someone when they parted ways. Neal was a friend
and brother that would pray diligently for you and was a prayer warrior who loved studying his
Bible, watching podcasts of pastor’s teachings, and attending church several times a week in
order to continue to deepen his faith in Christ. His love for the Lord was contagious and could
not be suppressed. He was proud to be an American and taught his sons to love this country,
respect the democratic process and to contribute meaningfully in deed and prayer.
He was born on September 19, 1959 in Sayre, Pennsylvania to Dr. Felix and Claire
Lauron. He and his family immigrated to the Philippines in 1960. Neal was the second child of 5
children. Neal had an older brother, Mark, a younger brother, Chuck, and two younger sisters, Elizabeth and Michelle. While in the Philippines, in addition to a rigorous parochial school education, Neal was a Boy Scout, learned how to scuba dive, golf and play sports. It’s here where Neal followed in his father’s footsteps and developed a love for tennis. He excelled greatly in this sport, and upon immigrating back to the United States when he was in Junior High, he quickly rose through the ranks and was the
best on his tennis teams in junior high and high school.
Neal’s artistic eye and love of taking pictures was evident when he was young. He went on to attend college at the University of Louisville and received his Bachelors of Arts in Art with an emphasis in Photography. He helped to create a school magazine at the University of Louisville showing his great promise in design and layout. After college, he moved to California and began working for the Victorville Daily Press Newspaper. He was a photojournalist and redesigned the layout for the entire paper in
short order. Neal also worked for the Associated Press and Reuters which were international
newswire services. Neal covered everything from local, college and professional sporting
events, heavy weight fights, presidential inaugurations, National and international events and
more. His photographs have graced the pages of newspapers around the world and even the
cover of Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated and Newsweek Magazine. Neal took a leave of
absence and traveled to the Philippines to cover the Philippine national revolution risking his
own safety to capture the despair and plight of the Filipino people against the oppressive
Marcos Regime. He created and published a book from this event. Much later, Neal also
covered the tragedies of 9/11 at Ground Zero in New York City. It’s here that he would capture
the images of heroes, their agony and the extreme devastation of the terrorist’s attack. This was
a pivotal event in his life of which he was grateful and proud to be part.s He was a four-time Ohio News Photographer Association Clip Photographer of the Year in 2001, 2005, 2008, and 2011. He also won numerous Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists awards.
Neal was married to the love of his life, Elizabeth, for 33 years. He would always say to people that “he married up”. Neal met Elizabeth during the summer of 1987 at The Daily Press newspaper in Victorville, California. Neal was a news photographer and Elizabeth had a summer job there as an advertising sales secretary. Their attraction was ignited by their similar interests in playing sports, adventurous spirits, and their very opposite personalities (which anybody who knew them at all could attest to). Neal was the inspiration for Elizabeth to attend veterinary school at The Ohio State University which brought them to Ohio in 1994. While their marriage wasn’t perfect, they were truly devoted to each other and to their Christian faith. This devotion and faith brought them through many struggles and difficult times, making their marriage stronger for it.
Neal loved Grove City and its community. When he originally moved to Grove City in 1994 with his wife, Elizabeth, four dogs, and two cats, they didn’t plan on staying in Ohio for more than four years. However, the community of Grove City as well as their church (“The Naz”) had such a strong positive impact on their lives that they fell in love with Ohio and the Grove City community. They decided to stay in Grove City and start a family. Over the 29 years of being an Ohio resident, Neal has poured into his community and into the lives of others. He never knew a stranger and had many friends (and not necessarily the kind on Facebook). No matter where Neal traveled, he almost always ran into somebody he knew. Neal and Elizabeth even vacationed to Alaska in 1999, and Neal ran into an acquaintance in Anchorage of all places!
In Neal’s younger years, he and Elizabeth loved to play softball, volleyball and soccer together. In their later years, their favorite sport became pickleball, surprise, surprise. They enjoyed spending time with other couples, attending church activities together, and vacationing in Hilton Head Island and the Hawaiian island of Maui with friends and family.
Neal was a very passionate individual in all that he did, but was especially passionate about his faith, his family, and his photography. He “retired” early from The Columbus Dispatch in 2013 to spend more time with his family. He rarely missed any event that involved his two sons, Daniel and Zachary. Always generous with his exceptional photographic skills, he documented every activity they were involved in, including Boy Scouts, school trips, church activities, soccer, rifle, band, and other sports. He donated much of his time and skills to Grove City Church of the Nazarene, Grove City Christian School, and multiple club soccer teams in the area. Every day became an opportunity to teach his boys something, make a new memory with them or photograph a moment and forever capture it for them to reminisce. Neal appreciated and respected his sons for their individual gifts and interests. With that in mind, Neal sought to guide his sons to be the best versions of themselves. Neal always made choices and sacrifices in the best interests of his sons to help guide his boys to become, as he called them, “fishers of men.” Neal was a mentor and godly father figure to his son’s friends, teammates, friend’s children, nieces and nephews dispensing love, encouragement, wisdom and guidance. He conveyed to them that their lives mattered.
Not only did he devote his photographic skills, but he also served on the Grove City Church of the Nazarene Advisory Board for a few years as well as being on the Grove City Christian School committee. He was a member of the Grove City Church of the Nazarene for 26 years. Neal organized and led a small group of men he dubbed the “Knucklehead Dads” which was a Christian small group that focused on accountability and learning how to become more godly men, fathers, husbands, and disciples of Christ.
As Neal battled his last 24 months with cancer, he especially wanted others to know that he was a better person for having the disease because the suffering and weakness drew him closer to God. He shared with others on a regular basis that it is most important to live life to the fullest and to live with “Zero Regrets.”
Family and friends may call on Saturday, September 30, 2023 at Grove City Church of the Nazarene “The Naz” on Hoover Rd. Visitation will be held from 10:00am-1:00pm and The Celebration of Life Service to follow at 1:00pm