Published 6:00 am Friday, December 22, 2000

The loss of a loved one was difficult for the family of the lateRobert Chandler this year, but they discovered a special blessingin the tragedy.

Since Robert Chandler died from complications of emphysema andheart problems in September, the Chandler family has had twoadditions: Gary and Kim Neal.

“We never did know them (the Neals) before then, but they’remighty nice people, just like family now,” said Mildred Chandler,widow of Robert Chandler.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Neals began developing their close bond with the Chandlerfamily after coming to Robert Chandler’s rescue during a mild heartattack and sparing his life for a few days.

The relationship began just a few hours after Robert Chandlerwas dropped off by his daughter-in-law, Amanda Chandler, at a localtruck stop one morning to enjoy some coffee with friends.

He was supposed to call his wife when he was finished, but forsome reason decided to walk instead, said family members.

“He had been short of breathe that morning when I took him,”said Mandy Chandler. “He didn’t get very far before he fell.”

Robert Chandler suffered a mild heart attack on the side of theroadway, and although there were many witnesses, no one immediatelyrushed to help. Neither one of the Neals saw the 66-year-old manfall, but they happened to be in the area around the same time.

Gary Neal was on his way to pick up his wife for lunch at anearby business where she is employed when he noticed four peoplestanding around someone lying on the ground. His wife looked outthe window during the same time to see what the commotion wasoutside. The Neals rushed to help the fallen Chandler.

“When I got to him, I checked for a pulse, and he didn’t haveanything,” said Kim Neal.

Even though she had never learned or used CardiopulmonaryResuscitation (CPR) before, she began chest compressions while herhusband, who has taken CPR classes, began mouth-to-mouth on RobertChandler.

He began breathing again and was rushed to the hospital, wherehe was a patient in the Intensive Care Unit for six days, beforepassing away on Sept. 19.

“The doctor said they (the Neals) did everything perfect, but hejust wasn’t getting enough oxygen,” said Mildred Chandler.

The family is glad for the extra time they had to spend withtheir loved one because of the heroic efforts of the Neals.

“It gave us another six days to say our goodbyes, which inreality isn’t long enough, but it was nice to have some time withhim,” said Glenn Chandler, his son.

The Chandlers are also grateful for the efforts of all themedical personnel who helped him.

“They did a good job with him and we appreciate it,” said MandyChandler.

During Robert Chandler’s stay in ICU, the Neals visited him andhis family every day. They quickly developed a strong bond. Afterhis death, the bond continued to grow as the Neals frequented theChandler home on a regular basis.

“We’ve eaten together quite a few times, and we’ve been over toeach other’s houses,” said Mandy Chandler.

Along with the many meals she has cooked for them, MildredChandler has also given the Neals a special gift, a Chihuahua, oneof the many she raises in her home.

“Kim had mentioned to Glenn that she had hoped one day to buyone… and I had a litter due, so I just gave her one because Iappreciated what she did,” said Mildred Chandler.

The Neals have become part of the Chandler family, and theyenjoy having the opportunity to learn more about the man they triedto save.

“It made me feel good because I was able to help somebody …but I wish I could have gotten to know him,” said Kim Neal.

The Neals believe their relationship will keep growing, and planto spend Christmas with the Chandler family.