Thousands pay tribute to Dyersburg man burned to death in fire - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Thousands pay tribute to Dyersburg father burned to death in house fire

(WMC-TV) - Thousands of family and friends paid tribute to a Dyersburg father, laid to rest Thursday after a tragic fire took his life and severely burned his son.

Family members said Delmer McNeil will be remembered for his humble spirit and deep love for those around him.

"He's 32 years old and accomplished so much in such a short period of time," said Delmer McNeil's uncle, Lewain McNeil.

In addition to his wife Hannah McNeil and 5-year-old son Tripp McNeil, Delmer McNeil loved the game of baseball.  He played the sport in high school in Dyer County and went on to play at Jackson State and UT Martin.

When he finished college, he began teaching baseball and softball.

"He played baseball from the time he was a little boy.  I remember him as a little bitty boy always having a ball in his hand," Lewain McNeil continued.

Delmer McNeil and his son were badly burned when a gas line exploded outside their house.  Delmer McNeil was burned over 70 percent of his body.  Tripp McNeil was burned over 90 percent of his body.

Family members said Tripp McNeil is continuing to make improvements at the Shiner's Hospital in Cincinnati.

"One of the coolest things that I saw this past weekend was he ate his first popsicle," said Lewain McNeil  "He was excited to get a purple popsicle."

Delmer McNeil's family said Christmas will be very tough this year.

"It keeps me in awe at times to look at this young man who was tireless, who gave with passion, who was very humble, soft spoken, that loved people, love kids," Lewain McNeil added.

But they say they will always treasure Delmer McNeil's memory and continue the legacy he left behind.

Donations are still being accepted to help Delmer's McNeil's wife and son.  You can contribute at any First Citizens National Bank.  You can also donate through the McNeil family web site by clicking here.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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