Lake Land College in Mattoon Friday afternoon issued a statement regarding the loss of long-time Mattoon businessman and philanthropic resident Burnham Neal. Neal died in a house fire Thursday morning at his Mattoon home.
Pam Chrisman, vice president for developoment at Lake Land, said that the Lake Land community was deeply saddened and mourns the loss of Mr. Neal who was not only a friend of the college, but a supporter of many organizations throughout east central Illinois.
Neal’s association with Lake Land College goes back to 1966 with the founding of the College. He and his parents actively supported the creation of Lake Land. In fact, the election for issuing bonds to begin construction of the college campus passed in Neal’s hometown, Toledo, by a 9 to 1 margin. This was the largest margin in favor of any school district in the entire college district.
Neal’s first recorded financial gift to the Lake Land College Foundation was in 1998 when the Steve Smith Memorial Scholarship was established, in memory of an employee. In 2005, Neal and his wife Nancy presented the Lake Land College Foundation with a $1.2 million gift which included a gift of real estate that houses the corporate headquarters of Ben Tire, Toledo, and a ten-year leaseback agreement with the Foundation, providing an additional $36,600 in unrestricted annual income to the Foundation. Their generous gift has provided financial assistance through scholarships to more than 50 students annually who might not have otherwise had an opportunity to obtain a college education.
Chrisman added that Burnham’s unselfish contributions to the college have made it possible for hundreds of students to obtain a college education.
Neal, who is well known for his generosity and caring for his fellow man received the 2008 National Tire Dealers Association’s Tire Dealers Humanitarian Award and the 2008 East Central Illinois Association for Fundraising Professionals’ Philanthropist of the Year Award.
Additionally in 2005, Lake Land College re-named and re-dedicated the East Classroom Building in honor of Burnham E. and Nancy Neal, acknowledging the family’s generous contributions to the college.