Alan Shields Albert was born Aug. 13, 1917, in Denver, and in the comfort of his Cedaredge home Saturday passed on with blessed assurance to a well-earned rest in the care of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was raised in the San Luis Valley in Moffat, where he grew up helping his parents run The Coleman and Albert general store. He attended school in Moffat, and his mother took her children to Pueblo for religious instruction at Ascension Episcopal Church, where he learned from Bishop Ingley the slogan he adopted and by which he lived the rest of his life: “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2). He graduated from Moffat High School in May 1936. A first job as a young man was helping to build the highway known as the Gunbarrel to Saguache. He attended freshman year of college at Colorado Aggies in Fort Collins and finished with a B.A. degree at Western State College in Gunnison in 1941.
At the beginning of World War II, Alan joined the Marines and was shipped out with the 22nd Marines to the Samoan Islands; there he changed to the 7th Marines, which hit Guadalcanal in the first U.S. offensive to establish American superiority over Henderson Field. He credits God’s answers to his mother’s fervent prayers for his survival of numerous attacks by the Japanese in which his troops were greatly outnumbered but had superior fire power. He was 25 pounds lighter after four grueling months on Guadalcanal. He was sent to recover from what he called “yellow jaundice” to a hospital in Melbourne, Australia. He greatly enjoyed his time and the warm reception of the Aussies, where he marched with the 1st Marine Division’s 85-piece band on Liberty Loan drives throughout Australia and Tasmania. He was sent stateside after two more years in the South Pacific following his Cape Gloucester campaign.
After his discharge from the Marines he returned home to obtain his first teaching job at Red Cliff Union High School in December 1945. This began his 33-year teaching career from 1945-1978. Fourteen years until 1959 he was band director, basketball coach and social studies teacher, serving as principal under Superintendent J.W. Mackey, who would become his best friend, business partner and mentor. After school consolidation, he taught band, chorus and social studies for six years at the first Battle Mountain High School until 1965, and concurrently as band and chorus director at Rocky Mountain Junior High in Minturn. For eight years he served as Red Cliff Elementary School head teacher and full-time third-grade teacher until 1973, and then five more years teaching beginning band instruments at Red Cliff Elementary and Minturn Middle School. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties at Red Cliff Elementary, he started and coached elementary school basketball teams, the Red Cliff Red Hots and Roadrunners, fostering the love of basketball in many young players who grew up to coach basketball themselves. Alan retired in 1978 and moved to Cedaredge, where he enjoyed hunting, fishing, skiing, square dancing and smoking his cigars and pipes.
His second job was that of landlord, tediously tending to the nine-apartment Columbine Apartment House (which stood on the present-day parking lot of Mango’s in Red Cliff) and up to five other rental properties which demanded constant maintenance, plumbing work, snow and trash removal.
His professional affiliations and contributions to the community included serving as secretary-treasurer of Eagle County Education Association from about 1948-1958; mayor and Town Council member for the town of Red Cliff 18 years; chairman of Red Cliff Water and Sanitation District; and clerk-treasurer of the Red Cliff Presbyterian Church and Red Cliff Church for Christians until 1979. He was a member of the Masons. As a member of Surface Creek Valley Historical Society, he served for many years as a guide at Pioneer Town in Cedaredge, dressed as “the marshal.”
Alan was a loving and affectionate husband and father, bringing up his children in the Rocky Mountain paradise he loved, enthusiastically mentoring many friends, nephews, nieces and visitors in his outdoorsman lifestyle. He learned to ski in his 30s at Cooper Hill and enjoyed skiing every Sunday afternoon at Vail after its opening.
For adventures milder than high lake trips, he’d take guests on his “two-bit jeep ride” over boulders as large as the jeep. He was excited about getting a Tote-Gote and his Chevy Blazer, taking the family on two-week camping trips through southwest Colorado. He took pride in his first car, a Model T, and in his ’56 Chevy which transported the family to New York in 1968 and California in the 60s. He faithfully recorded in diaries, on reel-to-reel tape and via slide shows the development of his children, noteworthy local events and fishing trips.
He was preceded in death by his brother Otis William Albert and sister Jeannette Abigail Paine, best friends George Morris and J.W. Mackey, and countless Marine brothers, friends, hunting partners and fishing buddies.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Mary Louise Barber Albert; four children: Sandra (Mike) Rose, of Eagle, Robin (Ben) Benallie, of Blanding, Utah, Alexander Scott Albert, of Escondido, Calif., and Susan Shellabarger (Brent) Hanna; by nine grandchildren: Briar Jeannette Rose, of Chicago, Baily Anne Rose and Michael Peter Rose II, of Denver, Troy Benallie, of Logan, Utah, Ayla Benallie, of Salt Lake City, Utah, Ashkia Ani (Tarl) McCallson, of Ogden, Utah, Alana Mari Benallie, of Provo, Utah, and Lily Joy and Abigail Faith Hanna, of Grand Junction; and by several generations of extended family, countless friends, fishing and hunting buddies and former students.
A memorial service will be held at Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Interment will be at Rito Alto cemetery in the San Luis Valley on Memorial Day weekend. To be announced, a memorial event in Red Cliff will be planned for those who knew Mr. Albert from his Red Cliff days. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests gifts can be made to: Cedaredge Community United Methodist Church, Red Cliff Church for Christians, Surface Creek Valley Historical Society, or The Heifer Foundation.
Arrangements are under the care and direction of Taylor Funeral Service and Crematory.
View the Internet obituary and sign the online guest registry at taylorfuneral service.com.