February 28th, 2003 was saddened by the passing of Alfred Nelson Winnie

To me he will always be just “Al”.

His life seemed filled with adventures (and I’m sure a few misadventures!), opportunities and a ton of honest-to-goodness hard work. He served his country with honor seeing active service in the Korean War and 28 years in the Army Reserves, a dedicated career of more than 30 years with Mobil Corporation and among all this, a wife (Kay) and family of three (Linda, Donna and Ron). He pursued each with a can-do attitude I learned to respect in him and others of his generation.

From Packards to Pipers, railroads to boats, Al had seen a little of everything and more than most. I was always amazed how he could discuss at length nearly any subject with a knowledge and familiarity that came from first hand experience. Be it the Chrysler Corporation’s latest offering or his beloved pine trees, Al could hold his own anywhere. I am reminded of the time a couple of years ago when he and I went to the model train show in Clayton, we wandered off in different directions and I later found him discussing the D&H railroad with one of the vendors. I found out he once worked for the D&H out of Schenectady. At the air show in Weedsport, he was reminiscing about the heyday of the Piper Cub with a pilot there. And if you wanted to talk stocks and business, no problem, that was without a doubt his bailiwick.

I caught up with him in the late 1970’s when my Dad married Linda, his oldest daughter. Reflective of his own warmth and congeniality, my brother and I were welcomed into their home and family as if we were their own. When they purchased a cottage on Chaumont Bay, I would frequently spend my summer afternoons there fishing off the rowboat. Weekends were an occasion, as Al would arrive in the ubiquitous VW pickup from Albany. The long drive and time away from Kay was difficult I’m sure but it was business as usual for Al, he did whatever it took to make it happen.

Al was always up to something on those weekends, he never seemed to be idle. Even after his retirement from Mobil bought him north permanently, he refused to sit still. He did custodial work at school and worked as a security guard at Mercy Hospital. And oh, those precious lawns! I think if Al had read any Ayn Rand, he would have found himself looking in a philosophical mirror.

Of all the things I know Al for there are two that stand out in my mind. He was one of the kindest, most sincere individuals I have ever met. He was one of those people who if they didn’t have anything nice to say, didn’t say it.

The other will always make me laugh, how anyone could pound nails left-handed is beyond me! I used to get a real kick watching him do that, it still strikes me funny.

The pictures scattered around this page are just bits and pieces of the life of a colorful man. My favorite is one of Al walking with my kid sister down the road to the cottage(below). If a single picture could capture a spirit this is it.

How can there possibly be a better way to grow up?

Al and Terra headed for the cottage, August 1993

Now this, is a scary picture.

Suffice to say that here is a 25 year old kid doing what his country asked of him, because it was the right thing to do! Never mind how frightened you were, you had a job to do and you did it.

© 2007 K. Towne, No part of this web page may be reproduced in any form without the express consent of Kenny Towne.