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Pittsburgh real estate agent doubles as mover for military widow

Linda Neely and Rob Dutcher take a break from moving Linda to her knew home on Aug. 26.

A Beaver County woman received a generous housewarming gift last Friday when her real estate agent rented a truck and moved all of her belongings to her new home. Linda Neely, of New Brighton, worked with Aliquippa-native Rob Dutcher, of RE/MAX Select Realty, to close on her house on Aug. 26. After mentioning that her moving resources were limited, Neely was shocked when Dutcher offered to move everything for her.

“Before I knew it, I was signing papers,” Neely said. “I asked [Rob], ‘how am I going to move all of my stuff?’ He told me not to worry about that. He had it covered. I didn’t realize he was actually going to move everything for me. I was like, ‘is this guy for real?’”

Neely, a military widow, reached out to Dutcher in April when she saw that her dream home had hit the open market. After the 120-plus day closing process, Neely became a homeowner for the first time. Though, after two back surgeries resulting from a 1997 car accident, her ability to climb steps and lift heavy objects diminished. Furthermore, in November 2012, Neely’s husband of 22 years, Vietnam veteran Jon Neely, passed away from Agent-Orange-related cancer after a failed stem cell transplant. With no one else available to assist in the move, Dutcher took charge, and recruited other volunteers with his personal Facebook page.

“I put a post on Facebook, got some really generous guys to respond, then we went ahead and did it,” Dutcher explained. “As it turns out, my buddy’s father and her husband were in Vietnam together, and they both died as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. I talked to [my buddy] quite a bit, and he helped out with the truck and everything. She’s an older woman, she needed some help, and it didn’t seem like she had any support anywhere. I figured ‘why not, I’m fully capable.’”

A fresh start in the perfect home

When Neely’s husband passed away, she found herself in a strange and unfamiliar situation. Save her granddaughter staying over a few times a week, she was alone for the first time in over two decades in a home she deemed too difficult to navigate, given her medical history. By coincidence, a house that she loved and spent time in several years prior went up for sale, and Dutcher’s name was on the sign.

“It was tough,” Neely said. “I couldn’t do the steps anymore. My son said, ‘that house is too big for you, why don’t you sell it and move.’ So, one day, [I] saw the [new] house. My neighbor came down and we looked at it. I’d been in the house ’cause I knew the guy that owned it before…I grew up with him. And, he’d taken me through the house before he sold it to the previous owner, and I said, ‘oh, I would love this room for my granddaughter.’”

When Dutcher met with her for the first time, he noticed something special during their tour of the home. Though Neely and the house were a perfect match, the buying process proved more difficult than she and Dutcher had imagined.

“She came to this house (and) she fell in love with it,” Dutcher said. “She knew the person who lived here prior to the owner right now. So, there was a background there. I really got to know her in the process…it took about 120-some days to close. There was a big problem with the appraisal [and] they had to start the whole mortgage over. So, I got to know Linda very well. She just needed some support.”

After four-plus months of back-and-forth with the lender, Dutcher helped Neely get the keys to her new home.

“On Aug. 13, they called and said, ‘you got it!’” Neely added. “[Rob] is just a great guy. I don’t know how I’ll ever repay him. It’s great.”

As to why Dutcher put so much effort into Neely’s move, he added:

“It’s nice to give something back.”