“Good Ol’ Al”
Al’s family announces with great sorrow his death from congestive heart failure on May 12, 2007 in Bellingham, Washington. He was surrounded with love and family at the time of his passing.
Al was born June 16, 1925 in Newark, New Jersey. As he would have told you, according to his precise mathematical calculations, he reached “81.91 years”.
He is survived by his wife, Balig, eight children, 15 grandchildren, two sisters, and countless friends and relatives.
Al was the son of Alfred and Emma Stein and grew up in Union, New Jersey with his three younger sisters: Norma Daneski of New Jersey, Virginia (deceased) and Eleanor Woods of Williamsburg, Virginia.
At 17 years of age, Al enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during World War II and was a combat veteran at age 19 having fought in the South Pacific in the Battle for Pelelieu. After re-enlisting once, he was later called up from the Reserves to serve his country during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Rising through the ranks, Captain Stein retired from 22 years of active service in 1965. But once a Marine, always a Marine. He was proud and tough and leapt to his feet at the sound of The Marines’ Hymn.
Al’s first marriage ended in divorce after the births of five children. Affectionately known as the “First Litter” are Janett Ed–rington of Oakland, California (husband Steve and daughter Jackie Spirer); Laura Wraith of Bonita, California (husband Saxon and sons, Saxon, Patrick and Bill); Frederick Stein of Oakland, California (children Franziska and Jeremy); Karen Gillis of Portland, Oregon (husband Jerry and sons Danny, Matthew and Tommy); and Christopher Stein of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Al celebrated his 37th birthday by marrying Balig Berberian in San Francisco, California and they’ve been celebrating birthdays and anniversaries together for the last 44 years. Their children, the “Second Litter,” are Armen Stein of Redmond, Washington (wife Lori and children Lauren and Jonathan), Andrew Stein of Sydney, Australia (wife Amanda and children Alyssa and Joshua) and Amy Stein of Toronto, Canada (husband Michael Jantzi and daughters Valerie and Sophia).
Al loved being “Grandpa” or “Opa” and his grandchildren shared many special times with him.
Al and Balig and their three children moved from California to Chilliwack in 1970 where Balig continued her teaching career and Al started his, first at Rosedale Junior where he taught Commerce and Typing classes and later at Chilliwack Secondary.
After retiring in the mid-1980’s, Al kept busy driving cancer patients to and from medical appointments in Surrey and Vancouve — the jokes and stories were included with the ride.
Al and Balig loved to travel, especially in the “bouse” (a big RV that was part bus, part house). Every summer would find them and the three kids criss-crossing Canada and the United States, creating memories of adventures, breakdowns and visits to far-flung friends and family.
After retirement, they continued to travel in the “baby bouse” and by land, sea and sky, usually with children and grandchildren on the itinerary.
Even with such a big (and noisy!) family, there was always room for more.
Al and Balig “adopted” Yasuyo Suzuki of Tokyo, Japan (“our Japanese daughter”) after she stayed with them as a foreign exchange student in 1986. Catherine and Fred Solheim and Janet Gay and her children Brian and Stephanie are also “family”.
Al also loved his “family” at Saint John’s Anglican Church. His deep Christian faith was an important part of his life and he wore his cross around his neck every day. He would often say “Bless you my son!” in thanks for even a small courtesy — getting a few startled looks as people thought he must be a priest!
Al made people laugh — and sometimes groan with a corny pun! So many people enjoyed his dry sense of humour, hilarious stories, and quick one-liners. The world is still a funny place, but without Al, it’ll never be quite the same.
We will celebrate Al’s life at Saint John’s Anglican Church in Chilliwack (Sardis) on Tuesday, May 22 at 6:30 pm.
His ashes will be interred later with full honors in the military cemetery in Kent, Washington.
In lieu of flowers, the family knows Al would appreciate a donation in his memory to any of the following:
• St. Joseph Hospital Foundation, 800 E. Chestnut, Suite LL1, Bellingham, WAÂ 98225, www.peacehealth.org/Whatcom/Foundation/
• The Anglican Church’s Primates World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), 80 Hayden Street, Toronto, ON, M4Y 3G2
• Mennonited Central Committee (MCC), Box 2038, 31414 Marshall Road, Abbotsford, BC V2T 3T8, www.mcc.org.