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DANVILLE — On Dec. 26, 2019, Machelle (Sharp) Long of Danville joined her beloved mother, Beverly, and sister, Sharon, in eternal rest, passing away unexpectedly at home at the young age of 63.

Machelle was born in Danville on July 31, 1956, to Beverly Sharp and was raised in Oakwood by her mom and grandparents, Paul and Violet Sharp. She graduated from Oakwood Township High School in 1974 as the reigning homecoming queen, marrying Carl Neal later that same year. From this union, Machelle welcomed son Ryan in 1980 and daughter Megan in 1985. She later remarried, gaining bonus kids Misty, Dusti and Ricky Long, who all survive.

Machelle was employed with the Vermilion County clerk's office, beginning her 24-year career in 1995 as a vital records specialist. While she loved working with the public, as anyone who came in contact with her could attest, her greatest passion was genealogy. She spent countless personal hours over her career working with genealogists, both local and across the world, searching library microfilms or walking old cemeteries, helping families piece together their story. Her proudest moment was receiving the Daughters of the American Revolution Community Service Award in 2014 for locating the unmarked grave of Civil War Medal of Honor recipient Martin McHugh. Machelle committed her own time, energy, research skills and personal finances to get congressional approval for a commemorative headstone for McHugh and his wife, Catherine. This is one of many examples of going above and beyond in work, friendship and family that Machelle will forever be remembered.

Although Machelle held many titles, none gave her greater pleasure than being called Maw-Maw. Megan blessed her with her three greatest joys, her grandsons. Her eyes would sparkle when talking of Braxtyn’s accomplishments on and off the football field, what an incredible performer Curtis was, and how much of a loving nature "her sweet Cam" had. Braxtyn, Curtis and Camryn had given Machelle so many proud Maw-Maw moments over the years, and they will continue to be guided by her kindness, generosity and loving heart.  

Besides her son, Ryan Neal; daughter, Megan Neal; and grandsons, Braxtyn Schroeder, Curtis Beasley and Camryn Neal, Machelle leaves behind many friends and family to mourn her beautiful soul. She was the oldest of five siblings, and being a proud big sister, she never missed an opportunity to share news of her brother’s latest travels or share pictures of her sisters and many nieces and nephews. When asked once if she had any new and exciting news to share, she said “My siblings remain new and exciting news forever!” She will always be remembered by her sisters, Joy (Bill) Greenway of South Lyon, Mich., and Lynn Wasielewski of Chicago, and brother, Darrin Deck of Miami. She also leaves behind her aunt, Sandra (Gary) Criss of Mendota. While their visits were far apart, she cherished the times they spent catching up and sharing childhood memories.

Machelle was preceded in death by her mom, Beverly; sister, Sharon; grandparents, Paul and Violet Sharp; and aunt, Connie, and uncle, Gary Behrens.

A memorial gathering will be from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, 2019, at the VFW, 8 Pine St., Danville, IL 61832. Online condolences at

“Crazy skies all wild above me now

Winter howling at my face

And everything I held so dear

Disappeared without a trace."

Sail Away — David Gray