Our City Online


Remembering Wilbert Neal

Jason Floyd Williams Jason Floyd Williams Remembering Wilbert NealWilbert Neal, local legend, unexpectedly passed away on May 10, 2021.
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Most major American cities, at this rate, have a Poet Laureate floating through their streets & alleys.

Not many American cities have a Nerd Laureate.

Not just a recreational, Beta-Nerd capable of listing the Star Trek movies in chronological order. An Alpha-Nerd capable of speaking random Klingon, or quoting Greedo’s shit-talking speech to Han Solo.

A Nerd Laureate, not cowering behind the plaid sofa when someone out of their social comfort zone trots by, but actively embracing the non-nerd, the anti-geek, the pop cultural foreigner, in a friendly chat about Star Trek, or Bruce Lee, or 60’s Rock.

Wilbert Neal, local legend, unexpectedly passed away on May 10, 2021.
Wilbert Neal, local legend,
unexpectedly passed away on May 10, 2021.

An active, extroverted Nerd Laureate drifts through a city… through the streets… through the festivals… through our lives; like Johnny Appleseed, leaving conversational samples, Sci-Fi anecdotes, comic book parables, cartoon advice, Rock n Roll lyric advice, behind him.

A Nerd Laureate, like Kwai Chang Caine, is an opportunist.

Waiting to help, to change a life.

Leaving a trail of folklore stories behind him: he always gave me a two-dollar bill for my birthday; he always paid in dollar coins at the conventions; he was a friend of cats; he was a good listener; he gave me a sculpture of a pizza slice, of a rocket ship; he dressed as a unique Santa; he was an interviewer; he gave me a couple bucks when I was short on change; he was the most accessorized man I ever met–hats & shirts always matching; I always saw him at Comfest; I always saw him at Doo Dah; I remember his cable access show; I remember him from the library; I remember him from Big Fun; I remember him!

So our city lost its grand Nerd Laureate, Wilbert Neal, on Monday May 10th.

There is a large hole in our collective hearts.

The world doesn’t produce too many men like him.

Men of folklore, of myth, of distinction.

Wilbert was a Columbus native and he loved this city like Batman loves Gotham. Many people may have known him from his career with the Columbus Metropolitan Library, his role on Vast Wasteland, his antics at Comfest, or his dream job at Big Fun. He loved to be around people and talk pop culture anywhere, any time. He would be most pleased if all who miss him take out some time to watch a superhero movie, a sci-fi drama, an old moster movie, a Bruce Lee flick, listen to a KISS album, or share a pizza and laughs with friends. Remember him as I will, with smiles and kindness.

-MJ Willow, life partner of Wilbert Neal

A GoFundMe has been started to help the family with funeral expenses.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


features categories

The Columbus Coffee Festival Returns!

The 6th Annual Columbus Coffee Festival returns on Saturday September 25th and Sunday September 26th!