Eric Lawrence McNeil, 58, unexpectedly went home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Oct. 31. He came into this world on Dec. 29, 1958, born to Jim and Lou McNeil. The first of three children, he gave his younger siblings Stacey and Karl a model of behavior that they were smart to avoid. He gave the nuns at Saint Louis de Montfort a run for their money and he never slowed down from there. Lou would always tell him that he should be a stand-up comedian - as anyone who knew him was all too true. He was the infinite comic and made laughter an integral part of his life. Although his comedic nature was what he was well known for, he is well known for his all too serious surfing career. After developing an interest in skateboarding early on, he was exposed to surfing, and it was there that he found his first true serious passion. He would admit that at first, he just preferred surfing because falling into the water didn’t hurt quite as much as falling on concrete. He truly had a love affair with the ocean and surfing was the mistress that fulfilled his purpose. He was an avid surfer for most of his life until the pain in his knees prevented him from that.
He loved kayaking, bodyboarding, body surfing and recently discovered a love for stand-up paddle boarding. With the help and encouragement from dear friends he underwent back to back total knee replacements earlier this year on both his left and right knees, or as he referred to them, February and May. His recovery went incredibly well and finally after five years, with the help and guidance of his favorite surf instructor, was able to stand and ride his first waves in five years. He truly relished the medical miracle he was and was very actively involved in his physical recovery. It was that rehabilitation efforts that he was enjoying at his untimely passing. Anyone that knew him knows he died a very happy man.
Being outdoors was what he loved, almost as much as he loved his wife Nicole, their three fur babies, Bruder, Hurley and Jia and granddaughter Jenna Mae. Eric was a faithful friend of Bill W for five years and counting. His passing is felt very strongly in the recovery community and his impact will continue to be felt for a long time to come. He was very passionate about his involvement in his own recovery as well as those of so many dear friends and family he was blessed to know through his involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous community.
This amazing human being is survived by and deeply missed by his wife Nicole; sister Stacy Fees; brother Karl McNeil; sister-in-law Teresa McNeil; three fur babies Bruder, Hurley and Jia; precious granddaughter Jenna Mae Treen; in-laws John and Darryl-Jean Watson; sisters and brother in-laws, loving aunts, uncles and cousins spanning the globe; a googolplex of nieces and nephews; Michael Frederick Paving family; Trader Joes family; and the entire state of Hawaii - as he was convinced his wife was related to everyone there.
A memorial paddle out will be held at 11 a.m. at Avila Beach on Nov. 26 followed by a celebration of his life at Atascadero Lake Pavilion from 2 to 4 p.m. In lieu of condolence cards, please bring a note sharing your favorite memories of Eric for the family to reflect on.