Neal Dale Thomsen, age 83, of Ashland City, Tennessee, entered his eternal home Wednesday, November 15, following a brief illness.
The Aurora, Colorado, native was born Leap Year Day, February 29, 1940, to Tom and Lillie Thomsen.
On Memorial Day 1948, the family’s “Half Moon Farm” was devastated by a catastrophic flood, and they relocated to an 80-acre homestead in the Ozark Mountains of Northwestern Arkansas. Growing up near the small community of Grandview, Neal enjoyed a marvelous childhood exploring and fishing the beautiful King’s River, which ran adjacent to the property.
After graduating from high school, May 28, 1958, Neal joined the U.S. Navy. He was stationed first in California, and then at various bases along the East Coast including Jacksonville, Florida. During his final six months in the Navy, while stationed in New York City, he crossed the Atlantic 14 times on a troop transport carrier. Thanks to the godly influence of a fellow sailor during this time, Neal came to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
His new faith grew and flourished. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy, Neal made the decision to move to Chicago and attend Moody Bible Institute.
During his time at Moody, he began dating and corresponding with Jewell Hansley, whom he had met in Jacksonville, Florida while stationed there. The couple married June 11, 1964, during a summer break from college.
After graduating from Moody, he continued his education in South Carolina, completing undergraduate and graduate work at Bob Jones University. He pursued additional studies at Luther Rice Seminary in Florida, where he simultaneously taught courses in Greek and Christian Education.
Neal began a 35-year ministry, serving five congregations scattered across Florida and southern Georgia. He held his longest tenure during his final pastorate at Wesconnett Free Will Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, serving from 1988 to 2003. Bi-vocational for much of his ministry, Neal also worked as a church planter, Christian school teacher (primarily fifth grade), professor, and real estate developer.
Throughout his ministry, Thomsen was known for a deep, abiding love for Scripture, rising at 3:00 am and studying and memorizing two to three hours most mornings. He also was well-known for accepting others as they were and helping them draw closer to Christ. He had an uncanny ability to make every person feel both loved and important.
As a teacher and preacher, Neal was creative, energetic, encouraging, tireless, and inspiring. His values are best reflected in the first lines of his life’s creed written and published in 1981: “May all that I do be to the glory of God. May all my actions be filled with noble purpose and direction. May all my activities be guided by a good sense of priorities and be in good perspective, remembering I do the most good for myself by doing good to others.”
Thomsen lived out this creed faithfully in his life and relationships.
Following retirement from pastoral ministry, the Thomsens relocated to Middle Tennessee. Neal became a faithful member of Bethlehem Free Will Baptist Church and later at Friendship Free Will Baptist Church. He continued to be active in mentoring and discipling activities until the end of his life, and, most importantly, he never stopped learning.
Thomsen was preceded in death by his father, Thomas Nielsen Thomsen; his mother, Lillie Kirkegaard Thomsen; and his brother, Thomas P. Thomsen.
He is survived by his wife, Jewell Hansley Thomsen; his son Eric (Jennifer) Thomsen; and one granddaughter, Victoria (Cody) Matlock.
Funeral service will be on Saturday, November 18, 2023, at 10:30 am in the Chapel of Cheatham County Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Bethlehem Cemetery in Ashland City, Tennessee. Visitation will be the same day from 9 am until the service hour of 10:30 am.
Cheatham County Funeral Home 615-792-2552 on-line condolences at www.cheathamcountyfh.com
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