Dr. Paul Veal was a big male in every sense of the word.
At 6-foot-6, with “hands as big as hubcaps,” as one friend put it, Veal's imposing existence was allayed by a gentleness, a limitless optimism and a sweet taste of spirit that endeared him to everyone he fulfilled, including the countless variety of clients he saw throughout his 34 years as a chiropractic physician, where clients frequently ended up being friends.
“I would embrace my back, however leave his workplace motivated and encouraged,” stated Jabari Edwards, who initially met Veal when he was a high school teammate 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 great day to be alive. Now, how can I help you?' I never fulfilled anybody as favorable as Dr. Veal.”
Veal, 63, died Thursday from what his better half of 40 years, Dianne Veal, believes were complications from COVID-19.
“He got ill the first of July and entered into the hospital on July 12 with COVID,” she said. “He had actually cycled through it, but he had issues with his lungs– pneumonia in both lungs– and had issues breathing. I consider him to be a COVID victim. He had always been in good health prior to.”
As word of Veal's death began to circulate Friday early morning, associates, patients and buddies had a hard time to limit their grief as they spoke about a big man who leaves behind an even bigger space.
“I'm in a state of shock, simply heartbroken,” stated Dr. Susie Johnson of Chiropractic Health Center in Columbus. “I've remained in practice for 23 years, but I knew Dr. Paul even before that through my daddy, who was also a chiropractic specialist. He was a huge old teddy bear, huge and soft and sweet and nice.”
Dr. David Allen, of Allen Chiropractic in Starkville, met Veal in 1995, and the two typically referred clients to each other.
“One of his patients would be available in and say Dr. Veal had sent them,” Allen said. “I ‘d say, ‘You indicate that little man with the little hands?' He was huge. I'm 6-4, 220 pounds, and he made me look small.
“He was a very good chiropractic doctor and helped thousands of individuals,” Allen included. “He was extremely well thought of amongst chiropractics physician.”
His clients adored him, frequently becoming close friends.
That held true of Wil Colom, who fulfilled Veal when the two men's kids were playing high school sports. Colom later on ended up being a patient and has been a good friend that has covered more than 30 years.
“Paul was the type of person I constantly wanted to be,” the Columbus lawyer said. “He had an unusual combination of perseverance and perseverance. He would see things through, no matter what. However in all the time I understood him, I was astonished at his patience. I've never seen him raise his voice, never ever saw him angry.
“When my son was playing ball with his son, you would see him at the games and he would be cheering for other kids just 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 be in a hurry with any person. I've never seen anyone as patient as Paul.”
Although he might have overlooked others, Veal never utilized 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 throw his weight around,” Morris stated. “He had another kind of weight: the weight of character. That was what drew individuals to him. He didn't push individuals to get his method. Individuals were drawn to him. He wasn't a casual church member. To me, he was a coach and an inspiration. He was household.”
That Veal would succumb to COVID-19 is a sobering suggestion of the threats of the virus. Unlike much of the virus victims, Veal remained in health and was fit, playing basketball well into his 50s, typically versus much younger guys.
“I personally remember him betting our neighborhood basketball I coached in (2015 and 2016),” Mayor Robert Smith stated in a statement. “The name of our team was the Possum Town Trotters and the profits from our video games benefited the American Cancer Society. He had a giant character and never looked for the spotlight, however discovered pleasure in serving this neighborhood. As for me, I'll miss his friendship and assistance and the city of Columbus will miss out on the expert service that he provided with a personal touch.”
Veal and Colom bonded over the hardships both guys came across growing up 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 understood what that indicated as a country boy – working from ‘can' see to ‘can't' see,” Colom said. “He really matured in some dreadful conditions, in a period where nothing was assured to him and there were absolutely nothing but barriers in his method. A great deal of individuals can't overcome that, however he never ever let his circumstances beat him down.”
Another buddy, Dennis Irby, said Veal told him he was so poor that when he and Dianne were wed in 1979, he didn't have the cost to pay the pastor for the ceremony.
“He informed the pastor that if he ever got in a better position, he ‘d return and pay him,” Irby stated. “The pastor stated not to worry about it. Paul always remembered it, however. Years later, he searched for the pastor and learnt he was in the Atlanta location. So Paul and Dianne drove over to his home. The pastor didn't remember him, but Paul told him about how he could not pay him. He paid the pastor the cost and a lot more.
“When he told me that story, it simply struck me that it was just like Paul,” he added. “He was a man of his word. If he told you something, he would follow through.”
A traveler and angler
Veal's escape from the crippling poverty came through signing up with the military, said Dianne, who first fulfilled Paul when they were second grade.
“He was in the Air Force and when he went out, he requested drug store school at Ole Miss,” she stated. “But he satisfied a chiropractic doctor and chose that was something he wished to pursue.”
After his chiropractic physician training, the Veals relocated to Columbus in 1986, taking control of a practice on Gardner Boulevard.
“He had these huge hands, however he put them on you gently,” Colom said.
Colom, Veal and Irby became buddies, frequently taking a trip together to Africa.
“South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia. Senegal,” Colom said, checking off the places the 3 men visited. “The most moving minute was checking out eviction of No Return, which is where servants saw their last view of Africa as they were put on the slave ships throughout the Atlantic. For the previous numerous years, Paul was constantly speaking 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 wouldn't budge if the fishing was excellent,” Colom stated. “I was chatting with Dianne one time and she stated, ‘You understand I do not worry about Paul leaving me for another female; I worry about him leaving me to fish.'”
That exaggeration was apparent, Colom said.
“I question you'll ever satisfy a closer, more stunning couple,” Colom stated. “Every time you saw them together, it was apparent how much they enjoyed each other. He liked Dianne, loved his kids and liked his good friends. We'll all miss him. I think the whole neighborhood will miss him. He truly was a gentle giant.”