February 20, 2004 by

Steve Neal


Categories: Writers/Editors

sneal.jpgSteve Neal, a political columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, committed suicide on Feb. 18 at the age of 54. According to the Hinsdale Police Department, Neal was found at the wheel of his car in the garage attached to his home. He left behind several notes.
Neal first became interested in politics as a teenage collector of campaign buttons. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon and a master’s in journalism from Columbia University. His first job in journalism was with the old Oregon Journal. He worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1972 to 1979, then landed a general assignment reporter position at the Chicago Tribune.
Within six months, Neal was transferred to the newspaper’s Washington bureau where he covered the White House during Ronald Reagan’s first term. The Tribune brought him back to the Windy City in 1984 to cover politics. Three years later, he joined the rival Sun-Times. Neal was also a regular guest on the television show, “Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review,” on WTTW-TV Channel 11.
Considered one of the city’s most savvy political analysts, Neal’s trademark one-line leads introduced opinion pieces that did more than pontificate — they actually broke news. His encyclopedic knowledge of history and politics led him to write and/or edit 11 books, including the upcoming “Happy Days Are Here Again: The 1932 Democratic Convention, the Emergence of FDR — and How America Was Changed Forever.”
Read Steve Neal’s Final Columns

5 Responses to Steve Neal

  1. sam paul

    Steve Neal was a big factor on my writing style and often gave me pointers for my first novel. How ironic that it’s title is Why I Committed Suicide.
    What a shame, he was a great guy always willing to lend a hand.

  2. Larry Ballinger

    Steve was the brightest guy in my high school class, possessing a keen interest in both sports and politics. He was the sports editor of our school paper. Steve was an engaging personality. He was fun to be around and had a real zest for life. He is fondly remembered by many of his classmates.

  3. edward bock

    Neal was a good friend and a super supporter of Fr John Smyth, the CEO of Maryvile Academy in Des Plaines, Illinois… He will be and is missed, a friend Ed bock

  4. Kilburn Hall

    February 20, 2009 is the 5th anniversary of the death of political-columnist for The Chicago Sun Times Steve Neal. The protagonist in my book, Karakal (Lost Horizon-The Return), is named Tim Campbell but he really is based on Steve Neal.
    Written in 2000 here is an excerpt from Karakal as it relates to Gene and Georgetti’s and Steve Neal.
    Gene and Georgetti’s Restaurant
    Chicago, IL.
    At center court sat political columnist, historian, public speaker, bonvivant, and undisputed master of the lunching life, Timothy J. Campbell.
    “All my life all I ever wanted to be was a newspaperman,” he was telling his good friend and mentor Irv Kupcinet. “Newspapers are special in a way I can’t even describe. I just want to be part of them.”
    Talk, lots of gossip over food, a steady round of drinks that kept appearing and disappearing and Campbell’s food was still untouched on his plate as the first round of media personalities were getting their coats to leave while a second group arrived and greeted everyone. TV news anchor Carol Marin was just leaving along with blonde bombshell, Diane Sawyer, recently visiting the city. Political-columnist Steve Neal from The Chicago Sun-Times was still talking about his recent hole-in-one. Just arriving and taking their coats off were Chicago Sun-Times columnists Richard Roeper and Neil Steinburg, author’s Studs Terkel and Bob Remini, the great biographer of Andrew Jackson, and Chicago actor John Cusak.
    Kilburn Hall

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