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Family, Friends Mourn Loss of Respected Educator

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HARNETT — We're taught time heals all wounds. But for the people who knew Reubin McNeill, time is moving very slowly.

So many people wanted to say goodbye to McNeill one last time, that his family held the funeral at the Cape Fear Conference A Headquarters instead of the family church down the street.

After two days of memorials and tearful goodbyes, people gathered to pay tribute to the popular educator for a job well-done, and a life well-lived.

"It made me angry and it made me sad," friend Dennis McNeill said.

Dennis McNeill was one of the last people to see Reubin McNeill before his disappearance and death one week ago. At the funeral he read from a letter written by a student McNeill taught 18-years ago.

"I have never forgotten him or the many things that he taught me, not just in book lessons, but in life itself," Dennis McNeill read.

Friday, Dennis was among hundreds of people who recalled his friend as a leader, educator and motivator.

More than 1,200 people crowded into the Cape Fear Conference Center to remember a man who touched thousands of lives during a 24-year career with the Wake County School System.

McNeill's pastor, Dr. Alfred Ferguson, offered words of comfort to Reubin's wife, teenage sons and other family members. Many are still struggling to come to terms with the act of violence that cut his life short.

"We are just trying to cope with this," church member Gwen McNeill said. "The closure will come when they catch the guy that really did the stabbing."

One week after Reubin McNeill's disappearance from the Oak Grove A.M.E. Zion Church in the Erwin community, he was laid to rest. McNeill was buried at the Resthaven Cemetery in Dunn.

A large picture of McNeill, that was projected on one of the conference center walls, represented the sentiments of the grieving; it read 'Forever Loved, Forever Missed, Principal Reubin McNeill.'


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