Wife Fondly Recalls Husband Taken By Mesothelioma.
Duane Leslie McNeill was sixty-one years old when he was diagnosed with
sarcomatoid mesothelioma in January of 1999. A father, husband and soulmate,
he died just two months later, four days shy of celebrating his 40th wedding
anniversary. He met his future wife Ruby when they were 12 years old and
knew at the tender age of 15 that he would marry her. Duane and Ruby raised two sons.
After serving his country in the United States Navy, Mr. McNeill worked
as a supervisor in several foundries in California and Washington state
until he became sick.
Below is a letter I received from his wife, Ruby:
Dear Mr. Worthington,
I hope you understand my need to tell you about Duane. He is gone but will
never be forgotten. He had a face and a voice and, although no longer
here, should still be seen and heard.
Duane was very quiet but those who knew him well knew what a wonderful
sense of humor he had. For me, when he died the fun died with him. He
could make me laugh so hard and often. He was so patient with me and gave
me such a feeling of security. There was just nothing he couldn't
do. I once told him that I thought I should get AAA coverage, as some
of my girlfriends had it, and he told me he was my AAA. Needless to say,
I now have to buy the AAA coverage and the benefits aren't nearly
what I had through his personal coverage.
Something that I don't tell many people is that during the two months
that we knew he was dying, he would take my hand and tell me how much
he loved me. That he never really understood the depth until we were going
through this together - and that's what we did - we went through this
together. The night he died, our sons and I were with him and he was conscious
all the time. The nurse had been at the house and told us that it was
just a matter of hours. At the last, he looked around at all of us and
found me and winked and just died. I said to my son, Rick - "did
you see that?" and he said "Yes, he looked right at you and
winked." What a wonderful gift that was and how often I relive it.
I moved back to Spokane as soon as possible after his death - he knew that's
what I would do. Wherever I go, I see Duane. The lights he installed in
my friend's home, the stairs he fixed for my aunt. He just did everything
for everyone. Every home we lived in was improved on. It is difficult
for me to now have to depend on
I would love to be able to tell them what it means to have someone be a
part of your life since you were 12 or 13 and what it means when they
are no longer there. He told me that when he was 15 he told his friends
that he was going to marry me. We had not even gone out together by then.
I told Duane (while he was dying) that it wasn't fair - we wanted to
spend the rest of our lives together and only he got to.
Thank you so much for trying to make these defendants be accountable in
the only way available to us. I would give anything to not be going through
this. Learning to say "I/Me/My/Widow" instead of "We/Us/Our/Wife/Husband"
is very disturbing to me. Not a good thing!!!
Ruby Simonson McNeill
P.S. Our oldest son, Dane, proposed to Lori during Duane's two month
dying time. The night Duane died (Duane was aware of what was to happen),
I had Dane take Duane's ring off Duane's finger. Dane had me give
Lori the ring to put on Dane's hand during their wedding September
18, 1999 (6 months after Duane's death). There was a Memorial Candle
lit during the ceremony and it stayed lit during the reception. A picture
was taken of me with both our boys and the candle. Our youngest (Rick)
is in the middle, Dane (the groom) is on the right. During the ceremony
they mentioned that Duane was there in spirit and that all were invited
to visit the Memorial Candle during the reception.
*** POSTED JUNE 26, 2000 ***