AIEA Founding President Joe W. Neal (1916-2013)

Joe W. Neal, 96 passed away at his home in Austin on January 14, 2013. Born in Watertown, Tennessee on October 25, 1916 to Basil Young Neal and Katie Jo Greene, Joe attended school in Tennessee before the family moved to Texas. Graduating from Brackenridge High School in San Antonio at age 15, he attended San Antonio Junior College. There, his debate coach arranged for him to debate a Houston team, coached by Lyndon B. Johnson. He maintained contact with LBJ through his presidency.Joe transferred to The University of Texas at Austin, continuing his debate interests. There he earned his BA, MA and PhD in Government.

He served in the US Army and US Army Reserve from 1941 until 1972, retiring with the rank of Colonel. He became a disabled veteran when a helicopter blade almost severed his right arm. During the early 1940s, Joe was employed in Washington, DC. There, he fondly remembered having tea with Eleanor Roosevelt.

On October 10, 1943, Joe married Clarice G. Hollman in Shiner, Texas, whom he had met when she attended the University of Texas as an international student from Brazil. They had four children. Following the war, Joe returned to The University of Texas, joining the government department in 1946 and subsequently became a professor in the College of Communication. He started the International Office at the University, providing services to international students attending UT. He served as Director of International Programs until his retirement from the University in 1986, though continued teaching until 1995. In 1985 he chartered the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC), an organization of all the public universities in Texas for the purpose of promoting higher education internationally. He served as President and CEO until his retirement in 1995.

Joe was instrumental in the formation of national organizations related to international education, including the National Association of Foreign Student Affairs (NAFSA), the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), and the Texas Partners of the Americas, among others. Joe travelled around the world, being received by kings, queens and heads of state. He was responsible for receiving thousands of international students to the University of Texas and other Texas universities. Many of these students returned home to illustrious careers in government and business. Joe continued to be active with his international contacts. He enjoyed receiving visits from former students and attending gatherings of colleagues. Over the past few years he worked diligently with former associate Barbara Altman to record and organize his memoirs.

He was proud of his family. He especially enjoyed visits and sharing stories of his childhood and career with his grandchildren. He reveled in entertaining family and visitors at gatherings at their farm in Tennessee and at Horse Thief Hollow Ranch in Austin, which he frequented at every chance. Joe is survived by his sister, Mary Nichol; children, John H. and wife Linda of California; Tom L. and wife Candace of California; Mary Jo Beckman and husband Robert of Virginia; and Frank W. (Pancho) and wife Jane of Texas; 16 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife of 61 years, sister Martha of Tennessee, and brother Tom of Nevada.

Joe left a legacy of family, friends and associates. He mentored many entering careers in international education or seeking educational opportunities, offering assistance to open doors on their behalf. He will be sorely missed. The family is especially appreciative of the dedication and efforts of his staff of assistants and caregivers, Pam, Erika, Maria, Josie, Celia, Stella, Michelle and Brenda. Their care and compassion allowed him to remain in his home and continue his active schedule.

Visitation was held Friday, January 18, 6 pm – 8 pm at Weed Corley Funeral Home, 3125 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin. Private graveside services were  held Saturday, January 19. In lieu of flowers, the family suggested donations may be made to Global Austin (formerly the International Hospitality Council at Austin) 1103 W. 24th Street, Austin, TX 78705, or the Joe W. Neal Centennial Fellowship in International Communication, College of Communication, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A0900, Austin, TX 78712-1094.