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Teacher didn’t let illness slow him down |
Obituary Stories

Teacher didn’t let illness slow him down

Megan Harris
| Wednesday, September 18, 2013 12:01 a.m

Gratitude and selflessness came easily to Shawn Neville. To him, every moment mattered.

“Those last few hours, he’s gasping. He can barely breathe, and he’s telling us thank you,” said Diane Hupp, his friend and pseudo-sister. “It’s incredible. We thought we were about to get the all-clear, but then he gets a fever and we find out it spread to his lungs. Three months, that’s it, and he’s gone.”

Shawn R. Neville of O’Hara died of cancer on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. He was 46.

His wife, Tracey Sansosti-Neville, said she’ll carry his spirit forever.

“I didn’t think I could be any more in love than I already was, and then this happens and I am. He gets even better,” she said. “I got so much strength from him. I still do. I always will.”

The day after his diagnosis, Sansosti-Neville found her husband on the computer buying same-day Pirates tickets. They went to dinner and to the casino.

When radiation and chemotherapy began, he adjusted — but never canceled — his workouts.

Mr. Neville refused to let cancer slow him down.

“He had his eye on the future,” his wife said, laughing. “We just brought home new cars Aug. 30. Dying wasn’t part of the plan.”

A banker by trade, Mr. Neville took up teaching nine years ago at O’Hara Elementary School in the Fox Chapel Area School District, where students on Monday donned black and gold — the fervent sports fan’s favorite colors — in memoriam.

Principal Michael Rowe said students are making a paper-link memory chain for Mr. Neville that will hang in the school’s commons area this week while PTO officials collect contributions in his name.

“We live in the area, so to drive through town and see the kids dressed up was really overwhelming,” Sansosti-Neville said. “He would be so touched, but he’d be completely shocked. Shawn is such a humble guy. He was almost too good to be true.”

In addition to his wife and close friends, Mr. Neville is survived by his mother, Angela Neville, and brother, James Neville Jr.

A 1985 graduate of Baldwin High School, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Duquesne University.

Friends and family will be received from 2 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in Weddell-Ajak Funeral Home, 100 Center Ave., and at a funeral Mass at noon Thursday in St. Scholastica Church, both in Aspinwall. A reception will follow at Cornerstone Restaurant.

Megan Harris is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-388-5815 or

Categories: Obituaries
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