Farewell to Noel Neill
I rarely eulogize on social media. I prefer to do so in person, no matter how exceptional the loss, no matter how much the person meant to me. There is something hollow about it for me. I like to grieve like people are supposed to pray, in private, with the door closed, alone. What rare exceptions I do make are for people who have greatly impacted me, or for whom the loss feels like such a gut punch that I have to wail to the sky. Today is a fine time to do that, for Noel Neill has passed.
Most people know her as the first Lois. That’s a fine thing to remember her for. She also contributed to the World War 2 war effort, and cast echoes across time in every subsequent Superman project she took part in.
I remember her as a gentle and kind lady who, despite all of her contributions, treated everyone she met as if they were special, and that it was her honor to be in their presence. Because of that, it always felt as if you were, in fact, the one in the presence of someone special, and knew it, and that’s rare in a world so filled with selfishness. Everyone she met would tell you the same. I’ve met many people, and almost all of them have at least one person who didn’t like them in some way. I never heard a disparaging word about Noel Neill, and I doubt if I’ll meet anyone who could. She meant the world to many, many people.
I met her on the con circuit when I was wet behind the ears writing reviews for the Superman Homepage. She travelled with Larry Ward, another true gentleman. It was a strange few years, spending the money that would eventually bankrupt me on planes, trains, and automobiles trying to gain traction selling novels to people who wanted comics. People let me sleep on their couches and I got by. It was a hard time. There were few constants, much uncertainty, and a long line of people ready to step on your face and tell you your lack of worth. Noel was always the smile you could count on to cheer you when you were down, the encouraging voice in a sea of cynicism.
At every stop along the way, Noel was there as a comfort and as a blessing. She would always, no matter where she was headed, make the time to talk, be friendly and supportive, and just really make you feel as if you’d known her your entire life. It’s a hard quality to explain, and I am failing, but she really meant the world to me, and I am assured, having spoken to others who felt the same way, that she was like this with everyone she met. This is a huge loss.
Years pass and the people we love go away. Some lives you wish could have lasted longer, even in spite of the fullness of their existence.
We’ll miss you, Noel.