“Rich was a great husband, a great friend and a great father,” Debbie Neptune, his wife of 39 years recalls. When their daughter, Lindsay found herself facing her first half marathon alone after a friend had to back out, Rich jumped into action. It didn’t matter that the event was a “Princess Half Marathon” – he still ran right alongside his little girl, making sure she made it to the finish line. That was the kind of person Richard Neptune was.
That love and support for his family was not unlike that which he expressed for his friends and colleagues. It was so great that for the past two years those friends and former Chrysler Capital co-workers have gathered together in Rich’s name for the Circle of Friends Golf Outing.
A Man of Character
Organized by Rich’s dear friend, Kevin Corbett, the “Circle of Friends” honored Rich’s joyful spirit and generous nature while raising over $10,000 for patient care at Regional Hospice and Home Care. As Kevin put it, “You can tell a lot about the character of a man by the way he plays golf.” For Kevin and Rich’s other friends, some of whom travelled long distances to honor his memory, Rich Neptune played golf the way he lived life – with dedication and heart.
Doing Things Right
In addition to playing golf, Rich loved running. He had participated in the Boston Marathon and in Disney Marathons too. In addition, he also ate well and took care of himself. “He did everything right,” Debbie Neptune explained. That is why when Rich began having trouble walking in July of 2014, the couple immediately sought medical care. Rich was in and out of hospitals for several weeks before a tumor was identified on his spinal cord. The tumor was surgically removed, giving the Neptunes a sense of relief as it was believed to be benign. However, a month later the family received devastating news – the tumor was a malignant melanoma. On 9/11/14 Rich started the fight for his life at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
A Strong Spirit
With Debbie and Lindsay by his side, Rich began receiving immunotherapy treatments. In spite of those efforts, his prognosis continued to be grim. Still, Neptune’s spirit remained strong. “He had two goals; completing the Disney Marathons in January of 2015, and turning 65,” shared Debbie. Defying the odds, and doctor’s recommendations, Rich ran a half marathon and a full marathon as part of the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend. A little more than two months later, on March 15th he blew out 65 candles on his birthday cake.
A Daughter Once Again
Not long after, Rich was admitted to the hospital with complications due to the advancing cancer. It was an especially difficult time for Debbie and Lindsay, who is a Pediatric Nurse. In April, Rich Neptune was transferred to the Center for Comfort Care and Healing. Debbie stressed, “Regional was the best thing that ever happened to us.” Since she and Lindsay had been serving as Rich’s vigilant caregivers, once he was at the Center they were finally able to find some peace. Later that year in a speech bravely delivered at the Bethel Chapter Breakfast, Lindsay reflected that being at the Center where all of Rich’s needs were attended to, she was able to just be his daughter again. Rich and the Neptune family received care at the Center for 3 ½ weeks, a period in which they developed a close bond with their nurses and other staff members. On May 13th they had to say their final good-byes as Rich Neptune’s cancer battle came to a peaceful end.
A Day to Remember
Having experienced firsthand how powerful the love and care the Neptunes received, Kevin Corbett knew he wanted to support Regional Hospice and Home Care in extending care to other families in need. Just a few months after Rich’s passing he organized the first annual Circle of Friends Golf Outing. Shortly afterwards, with the assistance of State Representative David Arconti Jr, August 31st, 2015 was officially declared Rich Neptune Day honoring not only Rich’s memory, but recognizing the outpouring of community support that his life inspired.
The Memory Lives On
That support lived on in the 2016 Circle of Friends Golf Outing. Prior to the event, Rich’s friend Bob Madar created the following video tribute detailing some of the most beautiful moments of Rich’s life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ags3MllH5Fw
It is evidence that a life like Rich’s lives on in the memories and hearts of those he touched.
For more information on Rich’s legacy, see The Circle of Friends Grows.