Neal Drexel, a retired John Carroll High School coach and State Highway Administration engineer associate, died of dementia complications July 27 at Sunrise Severna Park Assisted Living. He was 79 and lived in Millersville.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Stanwood Avenue, he was the son of Edward Drexel, a Bethlehem Steel worker, and his wife, Rose Mortimore, a homemaker. He attended the Shrine of the Little Flower School and was a 1957 graduate of Mount Saint Joseph High School, where he played football.
Mr. Drexel served in the Air Force Reserves from 1957 to 1965.
He joined the Maryland Highway Administration and became an engineering associate at its Brooklandville office. He served 44 years at the agency and retired 2002.
As a boy Mr. Drexel was a catcher in the Baltimore City Youth Leagues and played for the 7-11 All Stars. He later played in adult leagues for the Della Rosa restaurant team and Merry Go Round clothing stores. He also played semi-pro football and competed in the Middle Atlantic area. A defensive tackle, he played for the Omicron, Baltimore Eagles and Sparrows Point teams.
Family members said he competed in an early indoor football game held at the Atlantic City Convention Center in 1960. His Baltimore Eagles defeated a Hammonton, New Jersey, team that day.
In 1971 he began coaching girls softball in a Harford County recreation league. He went on to be varsity girls softball coach at John Carroll High School in 1981 and continued in that position until 2002. He was later called back called back as an assistant coach. He also coached a year at Archbishop Spalding High School.
He also coached junior varsity football at John Carroll and youth football for the Severna Park Green Hornets.
“Neal felt strongly that coaching was more than teaching the fundamentals and that the important lessons learned were character building, confidence, sportsmanship and team play,” said his wife, Helen Stevens Drexel. “To get more girls involved with fast pitch softball, Neal started a free clinic with the help of volunteers and taught all aspects of the game, but with special emphasis on pitching and catching.”
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Mr. Drexel was elected to the John Carroll Hall of Fame and was named the 1995 Baltimore Sun Girls Softball Coach of the year.
Mr. Drexel lived in Bel Air for many years and moved to Millersville to be close to family members. He was a volunteer with the Festivals of Trees, the Salvation Army and the Retts Syndrome Association.
Mr. Drexel donated his body to the Maryland Anatomy Board.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of the Fields Roman Catholic Church, 1070 South Cecil Avenue in Millersville, where he was a member.
Survivors include his wife of 54 years, a retired Bank of America legal support unit associate; a daughter, Kimberly Offutt of Millersville; a sister, Pamela Prentice of Palm Coast, Florida; and two grandchildren.