Lawrence Gregory Neill
Lawrence Gregory Neill (Gregg), 65, a 35-year resident of Volusia County, Florida, passed away peacefully in his home on November 14th, 2019. Gregg was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on November 19th, 1953. He was the son of his late parents, Richard and Velma; and grew up with his sister, Monica; late sister, Vanessa; and late brother, Nathan. Throughout his youth he lived in Pheonix, AZ, Escondido, CA, New Town, PA, and southern New Jersey. Most recently, he and his partner of 13 years, Debbie, split their time each year between their homes in New Smyrna Beach, North Carolina, and upstate New York.
Gregg was a multi-faceted entrepreneur, mostly as a self-employed drywall contractor, home builder, and restaurateur. However, he also established and operated several other business ventures such as Gregg Neill & Associates, Complete Home Services, and the Sani-Suite disposable cat restroom, also known as Pop & Toss, and the application of dried citrus peel as cat litter known as Citra-MAX Pet and Critters’ Litter. Inspired by his love of people and cooking, he initially owned and operated two food trucks, then a small breakfast café in Daytona Beach, and later founded a BBQ restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, ultimately known as Gregg’s Backyard. Most folks knew him for his “work hard, play hard” mentality.
Gregg was a pioneer. Beginning in his early 20s, he designed and built custom homes awarded for superior energy efficiency in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida. In fact, during the late-1970s he built one of his first homes on Homestead Road – a road that he himself established in Steelmantown, New Jersey, near the Belleplain State Forest. During that time, he also became one of the most reputable drywall contractors in all of south Jersey, well-known for his unprecedented speed and unparalleled workmanship. Gregg also spent many weeks repairing dozens of homes devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Even at 65 years of age, Gregg was actively designing a new vacation home he would build near his cabin retreat in the Great Smoky Mountains. He spent countless hours renovating the homes of his family and friends, and regularly gave of himself in any way he could to enhance the quality of life for those around him. He was truly a selfless person, and a fair and honest businessman.
Gregg was a problem solver. As a young child, he would disassemble and rebuild engines and other small machines with his beloved late brother, Nathan, just to learn how things worked. He always encouraged his peers and children to practice critical thinking and to be self-reliant. In his downtime, tinkering with power tools and the like to make things work better was a relaxing activity for Gregg. “Knowledge is power”, he would say.
Gregg loved to play. During his life, he was a surfer, skier, biker, boater, camper, hiker, chef, farmer, and overall entertainer. He enjoyed games like billiards, Backgammon, canasta, and many others. Gregg was well traveled, and was always planning a new adventure. He’s been to Germany, Hawaii, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, and countless other destinations across North America. He wasn’t a fan of air travel, but had no problem getting behind the wheel of his truck to get where he needed to be – regardless how far it was. He loved being close to nature, which was evident in everything he did – whether it was the plants and vegetables he liked to grow, a camping trip to the many national parks he visited with his loved ones, the park-like settings at all the places he chose to call home, or simply putting his toes in the sand at the beach. Last, but not least, was his affinity for Harley Davidson motorcycles. Gregg was handsome, charming, tough, bold, and free – a feeling that he certainly connected with and emulated when riding his “bike”. A friend recently said, “Gregg made us laugh, roll our eyes, and cover our ears.”
Gregg is survived by his partner, Debbie Vishnesky, and three sons from his former marriage to Kathy Wenger: youngest son Derek; Daniel (spouse Margery); David (spouse Fiona); and his granddaughters Kiana and Leila.
A celebration of his life will be held from noon to 3pm on Sunday, November 24th, at Gator’s Roadside Grill, 1301 Canal Street, New Smyrna Beach.