Albert (Al) Ehli, age 94, peacefully went to be with his Lord and Savior on March 8, 2017. Al was born in Selz, North Dakota on Valentines Day, 1923 to Nick and Lena Ehli, the third of nine children.
When Al was two the Ehli family moved to Eagle Butte, South Dakota located on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. Al met his wife, Ada, in Lidgerwood, North Dakota in 1944 shortly before he joined the United States Army Air Forces and was deployed to the South Pacific. Although he wanted to be a pilot he ended up serving with an engineering unit rebuilding bomb-cratered airstrips on Guam, Saipan and Okinawa. He wore his "WWII Veteran" hat with pride and was known for his assortment of holiday themed suspenders.
Al and Ada married in 1946. He furthered his education at the North Dakota State School of Science in Wahpeton, North Dakota obtaining his certification as an electrician. That licensing led him to a career that varied from wiring houses to working for an electrical appliance store in Wahpeton.
In June of 1955, Al, Ada and their sons Colin, Cal and Curt came out to Tacoma, Washington to attend Al's brother's wedding. Having gone through a very bad winter in North Dakota and with the prospect of a hot and humid summer back there, Al and Ada decided the weather in western Washington was much milder than back home. After their two week vacation they returned to Wahpeton, sold their house and furnishings and returned to Tacoma in July of that same year. Most of the family's subsequent summer vacations were spent exploring every known route to and from North Dakota to visit Ada's family.
Having relocated to Tacoma, Al worked for several electrical contractors before starting work as the head electrical troubleshooter at what was then known as West Tacoma Newsprint in neighboring Steilacoom. Al had always cut his sons' hair and at the request of a friend he found himself enrolled in a local barber school on South Tacoma Way. Because he worked on a rotating shift schedule at the newsprint plant, Al was also able to work part-time at Cliff's Barber Shop in Lakewood. When Cliff Engelhart passed away unexpectedly in 1969 Al had the opportunity to purchase the shop which he ran until his first retirement in 1979. During that period he also purchased an additional barber shop in the Proctor District of Tacoma which his brother, Don, operated. Several years after retiring he found that he was working too hard in retirement helping friends and relatives rewire garages, houses and the like. He then purchased yet another barber shop near the corner of 56th and South Tacoma Way which he operated until selling it in 1985 to give retirement another try. That retirement was successful and Al and Ada spent the next 16 years as snow birds in Arizona and California. They also enjoyed spending time at the cabin they built near the Ashford entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.
Al and Ada were very active at Visitation Parish involving themselves in everything from the Scouting program to major fund raising. When Visitation School was in financial trouble Al suggested a fund raising effort similar to the B.A.S.H. program at Bellarmine High School which he had been involved in. Working with co-chair Joe Underwood, B.R.A.V.E. (Building, Revitalizing, Assisting Visitation Education) raised in excess of $300,000 over the next 14 years.
Al was a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a member of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Elks.
Al is survived by his wife of 70 years, Ada, sons Colin (Joyce), Cal (Randi) and Curt (Darla),
7 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, brothers Leo & Don Ehli and sister Charlotte Puryear. He was predeceased by sisters Minne Ell, Alma Kamcheff and brothers Clarence, Pete and Bill.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 1:00 pm on Friday, March 17, 2017 at Visitation Catholic Church, 3314 So 58th St in Tacoma. Interment will be at Tahoma National Cemetery.
Donations in Al's memory may be made to the Visitation STEM Academy, 3306 So. 58th St, Tacoma, WA 98409.