Sylvia Neal Obituary (1942-2021) – Greensboro, NC

Neal, Sylvia Brooke

September 20, 1942 – November 3, 2021

Brooke Neal of Greensboro, NC, died on November 3, 2021 of complications from a recently diagnosed illness. Sylvia Brooke Neal was born on September 20, 1942 in San Angelo, Texas, the only child of Rachel Leah Neal and Alvin Ethan Neal.

From a young age, Brooke’s highly independent spirit was evident. Her father said to her, “Brooke, you never learned how to gee and haw!” (It would live up to his testimony in more ways than one.) Brooke’s first marriage was to Tommy Broadway (children: Kevin Brooke Hudson, Calvin Neal Broadway, Tommy Winston Broadway, and James Mark Broadway). Her second husband was Joe Peter Burton (children: Adam Burton, Eric Burton). Brooke’s children are scattered now, but most of them were by her side for a bittersweet reunion at the hospice. Her grandson, Triston Broadway, was raised by his grandmother since childhood and he kept her busy with his constant curiosity and willingness to discuss her many theories and philosophies.

Brooke was a force of nature, a political activist, a talented and productive artist, a free spirit, a psychologist, a teacher, a mentor, a philosopher, a loyal friend, an advocate for the less fortunate, a science fiction enthusiast, etc. Leonard Cohen Admirer, mother / grandma / great-grandmother, beat poet / hippie / Taoist / Buddhist and above all an outspoken truth teller.

Brooke’s life was diverse in terms of both location and calling. A young wife of Tommy Broadway (Brooke married at age 14) and a mother in Texas in the 1950s, Brooke moved to New York City for a period where she frequented coffeehouses and met her mentor, Bob Kaufman, one of the big beats -Poets. She returned to Texas for some time and then moved to NC where she met her second husband Pete and became the mother of twins. Brooke later moved to Fancy Gap, Virginia, where she lived in a rustic house and commuted to Radford University for her Masters in Psychology. She became a counselor and behavioral therapist and has spent much of her career working with intellectual / developmentally disabled people, first in Virginia and then back to Greensboro, NC. A colleague said Brooke always gave 110% to this often neglected population.

From Texas to NC to NYC and beyond, Brooke made lifelong friends along the way – friends who became family. Brooke’s community was as diverse as her life goals – from every culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, every age and economic level, non judgmental and non-conforming, often outrageous, sinfully funny, wise and compassionate, creative, LOVING – there is a BIG one HOLE in our universe without you! We already miss you.

The photo for this post is her painting entitled “BARDO”, which she included in her obituary along with her poem of the same name:

Death will peel me like a ripe banana

Pop me like a bright balloon

I’m losing my limbs and my senses

My loved ones then and now – everyone.

I can’t find my place

My story – my life.

It’s all gone, no matter what process wiped me out.

Everything I fought for

All that I’ve won

I’m losing my place

In time and space

My memory,

My senses.

Everything that I hadn’t lost before

I am losing it now.

My feeling for now or then too.

Nothing. There is nothing there.

No there.

No one. No response when I call.

I am alone. Alone.

It has always been like this?

I do not know.

And yet it is there.

I am. I am.

I am nothing, but I am.

I can not call. I have no voice, no words;

I am nothing,

And there is nothing.

And yet it is me.

i am i am i am i am i am


Echo on no sound, no sound … no sound.


An endless, toneless sound outside of time and space.

Nothing at all.

— Brooke Neal, January 2019

************** NOTE: There will be no visiting or funeral service.

Hinnant Funeral Home

512 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Greensboro, NC 27406

Published by Greensboro News & Record on November 7, 2021.

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