Former Rochester resident, Mr. Richard “Dick” Alber, 89, was surrounded by his loving family when he passed away at 6:10 p.m. March 20, 2021, in his Winamac home.
On Feb. 25, 1932, Richard Lee Alber was born in Rochester. He was a treasured son of Norvannah and Lillian Marie Barnhart Alber. Growing up as the sixth of the Alber kids Dick shared his childhood with a sister Margie and five brothers Wayne, Larry, Phillip, Raymond and Addison. As a Richland Center High School Wildcat, his basketball team was led by legendary Coach Paul “Rocky” Rockwell. The team ascended to the Semi-State during Dick’s senior season in 1950. He played at the forward and guard positions while getting out of his farm chores he said, was the best. Dick graduated as a proud member of the top ten scholars of his class. A stellar baseball player, after high school, Dick was invited to try out for Chicago Cubs baseball team.
Dick worked at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant for a few months, then when patriotism beckoned; he answered the call by joining the United States Navy. He served as a radio man aboard the USS Juneau CLAA-19 also known as the “Galloping Ghost.”. It was the second largest warship sailing at that time. During the Korean War he was stationed in Korea on board USS Juneau and completed his tour of duty on Bermuda Island. He was honorably discharged returning home to Rochester in 1955.
In Richland Center, Dick and Shirley Ann Clay were married Sept. 9, 1951. Sadly, she passed away on Nov. 22, 1974. On Jan. 17, 1976, Dick and Helen “ Jeanie” Fagan were married. They then went on to share over 45 years of life’s adventures.
With a strong work ethic, Dick began his career at Studebaker in South Bend. An opportunity to join the Dean’s Milk Company arose. He worked with great dedication for 40 years, 28 years he served as the plant manager. Dick was a hard worker, great boss and was known for his cussing “lesson” to each plant employee during the “evaluation meeting.” The office girls learned to leave the office and go outside until he taught them the correct way to do their job. But at the end of the day, you could count on finding him and that employee at the bar drinking a beer. Dick retired in 1996.
Dick was known by many names to his inner most circle. “Babe,” to his beloved wife Jeanie, Dad and Grandpa to his family. He also answered to Capt. Dick, Leatherhead, Dickie Bird and a few other choice names by other friends.
A gifted wood craftsman, Dick could be found in his woodshop working on projects and creating custom gifts. He made lanterns, various trucks, cabinets, carving out pocket knives for friends and family. If the kids had a request, he would make it. One Christmas he made boxes for the grandkids with their names on each box. By the end of the day, they all fell apart, we never let him forget that. Annually Dick planted two truck patch gardens. With a green thumb he yielded a bountiful harvest that was shared with family, friends and usually enough to feed a small village. His produce was in demand and Dick delivered.
Paramount in Grandpa Dick’s life was his family. As the patriarch he was proud to oversee four generations. His family loved him immensely. Grandpa was an amazing role model, teaching us to celebrate life and to love. His influence and memories will be carried on by all of us. He looked forward to our holidays and special celebrations with family and friends. We looked forward to his authentic, acclaimed, forever turkey call! Shared with family and friends, he never denied his followers and obliged when anyone asked. He loved a good party! We will miss you Babe, Dad and Grandpa, you will continue to live within all of us: in our hearts and through the memories we made!
Left to cherish Dick’s memory are his wife, Jeanie; children: Pam Locke of Winamac; Rick J. Alber and wife Karna of Rochester; Debbie Girton of Winamac; John Ingram and wife Carrie of Winamac; Denise Hiatt and husband Troy of Kewanna; Mike Ingram and wife Holly of South Bend; 15 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren; three brothers, Wayne Alber and wife Mary of Plymouth; Larry Alber and wife Sharon of Brookfield, Ohio; Phillip Alber and wife Dian of Fort Wayne.
Preceding Dick in death are his parents, first wife, Shirley, a grandson, Jeremy Locke, a great grandson, Tyler Thomas, son-in-law Tim Girton; sister Margie Minark, three Alber brothers, infant Norvannah, Raymond and Addison.
A celebration of the life of Richard “Dick” Alber will be at 11a.m. Thursday, March 25, in the Good Family Funeral Home, 1200 West 18th St., Rochester. Chaplain Jason See will officiate. Friends may visit with the family from 4-7 P.M. Wednesday, March 24. Interment will be in the Rochester IOOF Cemetery. Military honors will be conducted by the Fulton County Veterans Honor Guard and the US Navy Honor’s Team. Memorials may be made to the Fulton County DAV Van Fund, 815 Main Street, Rochester, IN 46975.