Dr. Paul Veal was a huge man in every sense of the word.
At 6-foot-6, with “hands as huge as hubcaps,” as one buddy put it, Veal's enforcing presence was eased by a gentleness, a boundless optimism and a sweet taste of spirit that endeared him to everybody he met, including the numerous number of patients he saw during his 34 years as a chiropractic specialist, where clients frequently became buddies.
“I would go in for my back, however leave his workplace inspired and encouraged,” said Jabari Edwards, who initially satisfied Veal when he was a high school colleague of Veal's kid, Chico, at Caldwell High School in the late 1980s. “You walked into his office and he ‘d smile and state, ‘Hey, Kemosabe! It's a fantastic day to be alive. Now, how can I help you?' I never ever fulfilled anybody as positive as Dr. Veal.”
Veal, 63, died Thursday from what his other half of 40 years, Dianne Veal, believes were issues from COVID-19.
“He got sick the first of July and entered into the healthcare facility on July 12 with COVID,” she said. “He had actually cycled through it, but he had problems with his lungs– pneumonia in both lungs– and had issues breathing. I consider him to be a COVID victim. He had actually constantly been in good health prior to.”
As word of Veal's death started to distribute Friday early morning, coworkers, patients and friends struggled to restrain their sorrow as they talked about a big male who leaves an even bigger void.
“I'm in a state of shock, just heartbroken,” said Dr. Susie Johnson of Chiropractic Health Center in Columbus. “I've been in practice for 23 years, but I understood Dr. Paul even before that through my dad, who was also a chiropractor. He was a big old teddy bear, big and soft and sweet and nice.”
Dr. David Allen, of Allen Chiropractic in Starkville, satisfied Veal in 1995, and the two often referred clients to each other.
“One of his patients would be available in and state Dr. Veal had sent them,” Allen said. “I ‘d say, ‘You imply that little person with the little hands?' He was big. I'm 6-4, 220 pounds, and he made me look small.
“He was a very good chiropractic doctor and assisted countless people,” Allen included. “He was extremely well thought of among chiropractic specialists.”
His patients loved him, often becoming buddies.
That was true of Wil Colom, who met Veal when the two males's kids were playing high school sports. Colom later on ended up being a client and has been a buddy that has spanned more than 30 years.
“Paul was the kind of person I always wished to be,” the Columbus attorney said. “He had a rare combination of persistence and patience. He would see things through, no matter what. But in all the time I understood him, I was impressed at his perseverance. I've never seen him raise his voice, never ever saw him angry.
“When my child was playing ball with his child, you would see him at the video games and he would be cheering for other kids simply as much as he would be cheering for his own,” Colom added. “He was as patient with other kids as he was with his own. I never ever saw him remain in a rush with anyone. I've never ever seen anyone as patient as Paul.”
Although he may have overlooked others, Veal never ever used his physical stature or standing in the neighborhood to get his way, stated Craig Morris, the Veals' pastor at Abundant Life Church.
“He didn't toss his weight around,” Morris stated. “He had another sort of weight: the weight of character. That was what drew individuals to him. He didn't push people to get his way. Individuals were drawn to him. He wasn't a casual church member. To me, he was a coach and a motivation. He was household.”
That Veal would catch COVID-19 is a sobering tip of the risks of the infection. Unlike a number of the infection victims, Veal remained in health and was physically fit, playing basketball well into his 50s, often versus much younger males.
“I personally remember him betting our neighborhood basketball I coached in (2015 and 2016),” Mayor Robert Smith said in a statement. “The name of our team was the Possum Town Trotters and the earnings from our video games benefited the American Cancer Society. He had a huge character and never looked for the spotlight, however discovered happiness in serving this community. As for me, I'll miss his relationship and assistance and the city of Columbus will miss the expert service that he provided with a personal touch.”
Veal and Colom bonded over the challenges both guys experienced maturing in rural Mississippi– Colom in Tippah County, Veal in Tunica County.
“I ‘d ask him how it was going and he ‘d laugh and say, ‘I kin to kint,' and I knew what that indicated as a nation young boy – working from ‘can' see to ‘can't' see,” Colom stated. “He really matured in some awful conditions, in an era where absolutely nothing was promised to him and there were nothing but challenges in his way. A lot of people can't conquer that, but he never let his circumstances beat him down.”
Another pal, Dennis Irby, said Veal told him he was so bad that when he and Dianne were wed in 1979, he didn't have the fee to pay the pastor for the ceremony.
“He told the pastor that if he ever got in a much better position, he ‘d return and pay him,” Irby said. “The pastor said not to stress over it. Paul always remembered it, though. Years later, he looked up the pastor and discovered he was in the Atlanta area. So Paul and Dianne drove over to his house. The pastor didn't remember him, but Paul told him about how he couldn't pay him. He paid the pastor the fee and a lot more.
“When he told me that story, it simply struck me that it was just like Paul,” he included. “He was a guy of his word. If he informed you something, he would follow through.”
A traveler and angler
Veal's escape from the debilitating hardship came through signing up with the military, said Dianne, who initially met Paul when they were second grade.
“He was in the Air Force and when he went out, he obtained drug store school at Ole Miss,” she stated. “But he fulfilled a chiropractic doctor and chose that was something he wished to pursue.”
After his chiropractic specialist training, the Veals moved to Columbus in 1986, taking control of a practice on Gardner Boulevard.
“He had these huge hands, however he put them on you softly,” Colom said.
Colom, Veal and Irby became close friends, often taking a trip together to Africa.
“South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia. Senegal,” Colom said, ticking off the locations the three males visited. “The most moving moment was browsing the Gate of No Return, which is where slaves saw their last view of Africa as they were put on the slave ships throughout the Atlantic. For the past several years, Paul was constantly talking about retiring. I asked him what he wanted to do and he ‘d state he wanted to take a trip. Travel and fish.”
A lot of interests took a back seat to fishing, Colom said.
“He ‘d been down in the creek and the bugs would be swarming, snakes all over and he would not budge if the fishing was good,” Colom said. “I was chatting with Dianne one time and she stated, ‘You understand I don't fret about Paul leaving me for another female; I fret about him leaving me to fish.'”
That exaggeration was apparent, Colom stated.
“I question you'll ever meet a better, more gorgeous couple,” Colom stated. “Every time you saw them together, it was obvious just how much they loved each other. He liked Dianne, enjoyed his kids and liked his pals. We'll all miss him. I believe the whole neighborhood will miss him. He truly was a gentle giant.”