He and his family used to live nearby when I was growing up. He worked alongside my dad and was one of his drinking buddies when they would hang out at the local pub.
I used to call him 'Uncle Neil' even though we weren't related in any way other than through family friendships.
After hearing the news of his passing, I thought of some memories I had of him. One made me go 'Oh yes!' because it was quite a big thing in hindsight.
Before I get to the main one, here is one other thing I wanted to note.
I remember when I was four-years-old and our house caught fire on the day we were returning from a week away. My aunt had came to put the heating on before we arrived back and the boiler exploded after she had left. Anyway, as we turned into our road, we were met by at least a couple fire engines putting out our home. My dad's friend and his wife heard about what was going on and came over to see if we were okay. They ended up taking me back to their place while everything was going on. I vividly recall there was horse racing on TV that day. It could very well have been the first time I watched racing on the telly.
Many years later, when I was sixteen and heavily into following professional wrestling, I found out about the Wrestling Observer Newsletter - a, for want of a better description: trade journal of the wrestling business. I was keen enough to read an issue. However, the problem I faced - because I live here in the UK and the weekly publication is sent in and out of the USA - I thought the best way to pay for it would be to exchange my money into US Dollars and send it overseas.
Knowing that his friend had recently spent time in the USA, my father suggested I phone Neil up and see if he had any US banknotes left over.
I made the call. He had the cash. Perfect!
I was at his place within minutes (they lived almost across the road from me). He handed over enough Dollars to pay for a one-month subscription and refused to accept the cash I wanted to exchange with him.
So, the money was sent off and - weeks later - I had the first issue arrive on my doormat. It was the edition following the Survivor Series of 1995 and covered Shawn Michaels' 'collapse' on the following night's episode of Monday Night Raw amongst other things.
I've been following Dave Meltzer's work at the Observer ever since.
I have learned a lot about wrestling through reading the newsletter. I would have surely found a way to the Observer somehow because I was determined enough to see what it was all about. However, there is no doubt that Neil helped speed up the process.