Heaven has become a more interesting place today when we welcome Neal Donaldson. Neal passed away at home surrounded by the love of his life, Michelle Cameron Donaldson, and all of the creatures he loved so much.
Neal was born on May 5, 1957 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Alexander G. Donaldson and Elizabeth A. Donaldson. He was the middle child and loved to torment his sisters, Claire and Jan Donaldson. Neal was a gifted athletic kid and excelled in sports. He eventually received a track and field and football scholarship at the Berkshire Academy in Massachusetts, and went on to play football for the University of Oregon.
Neal learned to love the outdoors as a child and was a lifelong hunter and fisherman. His hunting adventures have taken him all over the world. Some of his most memorable conquests were his successful grizzly bear hunt in archery in Russia, two harvests of mountain lions in archery, and a magnificent red deer in Argentina. Neal was also fascinated by raptors and took up falconry in his early twenties, a passion he continued until his death. Neal was an accomplished skier and became an Anwarter certified ski instructor while living in Austria, and eventually joined the ski school in Portillo, Chile.
While completing his MBA in Oregon, Neal traveled the world studying international banking systems. Before settling in the United States, he studied in France, Spain, Austria and Chile. As a result of his many travels, Neal was a linguist and was fluent in four languages. Neal doggedly pursued his language proficiency and, on a fateful trip to a language school in Costa Rica, decided to take a detour to the English Riding School across the road. Neal quickly excelled in jumping and fox hunting, and made regular trips across the country to hunt foxes and improve his riding skills. After marrying Michelle, he introduced horses into her life and she quickly became hooked. Over the years, Neal would often joke that introducing Michelle to horses might not be such a good idea.
After graduating from graduate school, Neal’s love for the outdoors and skiing brought him to Vail, Colorado. Neal put his business degree to good use and opened a wine store that he owned for 20 years. Neal’s love for skiing also helped him find the love of his life. In January 2001, he was skiing alone when he got on the chairlift with a tall brunette who was also skiing alone. It was clear that there was a spark between them on their first trip together up the mountain, and three months and two days later, Neal asked Michelle to marry him. They were married in Kitzbuehl, a small village in Austria, the following year. Soon after, Michelle convinced him that they should move to his native Montana. Neal sold the wine store and took a job with a financial firm in Washington, DC. They divided their time for several years between Washington and Montana, and eventually found their forever home in Livingston, MT.
Neal and Michelle loved to travel and traveled to almost every continent and many countries. They had always gone on a great adventure, adventure enough to fill many lives; until Neal’s body begins to fail him. Despite this, he faced all of his physical challenges with the utmost courage and continued to hunt, shoot and work his bird dogs until the end.
Neal is survived by the love of his life, Michelle, his mother and sisters, longtime great friends, his worshiping bird dogs, his hawk Era and his amazing horse Kimo. Neal’s life has been an epic adventure, and he insisted that neither of us shed tears for his passing, but rejoice in the memories of all the good times.
An outdoor memorial service will be held at their property, 388 Old Clyde Park Rd, Livingston, MT, on October 9 at 3 p.m. followed by a bonfire. In lieu of flowers, he asked for donations to be made to the National Falconry Center for the Falconry Fund, https://falconryfund.org/make-a-donation, or the Havre Boys & Girls Club, http: // www.bgchi- line.net/donner-au Today.
The Franzen-Davis Funeral and Crematorium was responsible for the arrangements. To view the tribute page and express your condolences, visit http://www.franzen-davis.com.