Historical Highlights

One of the Oldest-Known Freshman Members, Dr. Will Neal of West Virginia

November 12, 1959
One of the Oldest-Known Freshman Members, Dr. Will Neal of West Virginia Image, Congressional Pictorial Directory, 83rd Congress After a 45-year career in medicine, Dr. William Neal of West Virginia became one of the oldest freshmen Members of Congress.
On this date, Dr. William (Will) Neal of West Virginia, one of the oldest-known freshman Members of Congress, died in Huntington, West Virginia. Neal was born in Proctorville, Ohio, in 1875. Elected to the 83rd Congress (1953–1955) at the age of 77, Neal entered the House with more than 45 years of experience as a physician. He earned his medical degree in 1906 from the University of Cincinnati and began a practice in Huntington. Not a novice to politics, Dr. Neal served as mayor of Huntington in the 1920s and as a member of the West Virginia state house of delegates from 1951 to 1952. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Neal received assignments to the committees on Public Works and House Administration. The only Republican from the Mountain State delegation, Neal lost re-election to the 84th Congress (1955–1957) to Democrat Maurice Burnside by 496 votes. However, in 1956, he defeated Burnside with more than 8,000 votes and returned to serve in the 85th Congress (1957–1959). In 1958, he was defeated in his attempt for a third term. A year later, Neal passed away at the age of 84. Neal’s colleagues remembered their friend in a tribute on the House Floor. Representative William Lee Springer of Illinois remarked, “He came to Congress late in life. However, in spite of this, his mind was always open to ideas and new avenues of progress for America. I have never known a man more sincere in what he believed was good for his country.”

Related Highlight Subjects