Funeral Time: Friday, June 15th at 12:00PM
NEAL, John Raymond. John R. Neal, entrepreneur, husband, brother, father, uncle, grandfather and dear friend to many passed June 11, 2018. John R. was born in Knoxville, Tennessee April 22, 1940 to the late Yvonne Lovely of Lake City, TN (grandparents John Ed and Ethel Lovely). John R. is survived by his wife, Catherine Clay Neal; his brother, David G. Neal (Iosifovna); the mother of his children Linda Morris; his four sons, John R. Neal, Jr. (dec.1980); Clay Neal (Tina) and grandchildren Ashley, John and Clayton; Brett Neal (Jennifer), and Tyrone Neal; and his daughter Grace. John R. joined the Marines Barracks United States Naval Station in Annapolis, MD from May 1, 1957 to July 20, 1958. He attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, graduating in 1962, then the Nashville School of Law graduating in 1968. After college, he married Linda Morris and worked in the George P. Morris Rent-all rental business in Nashville. His close friendship with the Massey family involved him in the corporate leadership of Kentucky Fried Chicken after Jack C. Massey and John Y. Brown purchased KFC from Colonel Harland Sanders in 1964. He was the KFC Corporation Senior Director of Franchising from 1967-1970. He became a KFC franchisee in 1970 founding JRN, Inc. and moved to Columbia, TN after purchasing Clifton Place Plantation in August 1972. Headquartered at the State Bank of Tennessee in Columbia, JRN owns and operates KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Long John Silver’s restaurants in 11 states and is ranked in the Top 50 US franchise restaurant companies. Over five decades, John R. became well known as a KFC franchisee leader, negotiating the industry’s longest active franchise agreement and serving on the national advertising committee for 30 years. John R. also founded Neal Auction Company in New Orleans in 1984 which is ranked in the Top 250 US auction houses and was a noted collector and authority on American decorative arts and objects from the 19th century. He was an avid fox hunter, scuba diver, marksman and sportsman. His interests included all things equestrian, scuba diving and the culinary arts. John R. was a Board Member and Treasurer of the Victorian Society of America in Philadelphia, served on the Advisory Board for the restoration of the Tennessee State Capitol, and served on the Board of the Tennessee State Museum Foundation and the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. He was a member of the Hillsboro Hunt Club, Idle Hour Country Club, the Lexington Club and Iroquois Hunt Club. A Celebration of John R.’s life will be held on Friday, June 15, with visitation starting at 10:30am, followed by services at 12:00pm at Christ Church Cathedral (166 Market Street) in Lexington. Honorary Pall Bearers are Dr. Tom VonUnrug, Dr. Joseph Jones, Andre Pater, Derek Vaughn, William Meade, Dr. William Offutt, Tom Merritt, Dr. Daniel Primm, Honorable Steve Beshear, Chet Lott, and Steve Dearing. A second service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church at 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 21 in Columbia, Tennessee with burial following at The St. John Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of John R. can be made to the KFC Foundation www.kfcfoundation.org, Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee www.elephants.com, Wounded Warrior Project www.woundedwarriorproject.org and Christ Church Cathedral www.ccclex.org.