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Albert Vander Linde

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Albert Vander Linde, 93, passed away at his home Monday afternoon, January 30, surrounded by family.

Albert Vander Linde was born at home on April 20, 1929, in Emery, South Dakota, the son of Albert Sr. and Frieda (Dittman) Vander Linde, he joined his only sister, Zona Mae. Growing up, he spent most of his time learning at his father’s side, seen but not heard. Where Albert Senior was found, ”Junior” (or “Junge” in his father’s native East Friesland dialect), was likely close by.

Learning to drive the 1929 Ford Model AA at the age of 6, Albert helped his father run telephone wire across southeastern South Dakota by driving the truck as his father walked the line. For his third Christmas, “Junior” was given his first set of real tools, and his childhood diversions included deconstructing the differential on the family’s Studebaker sedan in order to better understand it, tinkering in his own workshop, and plumbing the family home with running water. He learned practical life skills early, along with an independent streak and the creativity to get any project done. “Rethink the problem if first you just think it takes physical strength to accomplish!” was well-heeded advice that he passed on to his daughters many times over the years.

He began his business career at 18 when his father passed away unexpectedly. With the help of a banker and a close family friend, he took over the family businesses, which included a feedlot, a trucking company, and an electrical contracting business which he already knew well. Had it not been for the local draft board, he often claimed he would have stayed with the electrical business for life. But due to swirling rumors of his imminent draft, he enlisted in U.S. Army officer training for the Korean War.

He spent 3 years in the Army in charge of communication sections; first for the anti-aircraft battalion in Washington D.C., then for a demolition company in Salzburg, Austria. Once the war ended, Albert jumped at the chance to be discharged early to start the fall semester of college. He intended to drop out as soon as he could restart his electrical company, but Albert ended up hooked on academics. His academic career culminated in a PhD in Vocational Education from Colorado State University, and he maintained a lifelong passion for higher education.

Albert met his future bride, Odelphia Alice Buchholz, just days before leaving for military service. Amazed by her performance at a young people’s church gathering, he hung back to compliment her accordion playing. What began as a long-distance relationship of letters evolved into the love of his life with Odelphia. They were married upon his return from service on November 19, 1955, and the couple welcomed 3 daughters: Karen, Judith, and Mary. They forged a strong partnership of mutual support and tender devotion in the short time they had together. Odelphia’s life was cut short, and she passed away at only 51 after a battle with cancer. He would remarry twice more to Roslyn Whalen of Wellsville, NY, and Lillian Jean Iverson of Fort Collins, CO.

Like his father before him, Albert decided to pass on his knowledge of trade skills to the next generation. He became an electronics instructor in college programs at Springfield, SD, Wahpeton, ND, and then at the high school in Mitchell, SD. In Mitchell, he took on the challenge of planning and preparation for the school district to become designated as an Area Vocational-technical school. He became the first director of the Mitchell Area Vocational Technical School in 1967, and he guided the school through its inaugural years. In 1973, he accepted a position as Dean of Vocational Technical Division at Northern Montana College, Havre, MT, and in 1978 Dean of the School of Vocational Studies Agricultural and Technical College, Alfred, NY, a unit of SUNY. He thrived on the challenges of his work, including developing new programs, increasing enrollment, and coordinating industry needs with student training at each campus. While in New York, he consulted for the United Nations, supporting the development of vocational education programs around the world. Most memorable amongst these engagements include work in Suriname in 1982 during a challenging period of political instability, resulting in enduring friendships with his colleagues there, or “Good people trying to make a difference in their homeland” in his telling.

Albert was active in many community organizations, including church memberships, church building committees, and educational organizations. He was involved in too many civic and fraternal groups to list, but his favorite memories included several Rotary Clubs, the Allegany County ARC, and the American Vocational Association.

After his retirement, Albert tried his hand as a real estate agent and broker in NY, and was elected to the Allegany County Board of Legislators. He continued his lifelong pattern of working in his spare time to flip a few houses. Cabinetry and woodworking were favorite pastimes, and he lent his talents to his daughters in many of their home remodels.

After a 20-year retirement in Ocala, FL, Albert returned to Montana to be near his daughters Karen and Judy. He lived independently in one of the units of a triplex he had built in Butte in 2005. He spent much time sharing life lessons and advice with his grandchildren. Albert’s favorite aphorisms include: “If you get a penny enjoy a penny candy, but if you get a nickel put it in the pocket.”, “Invest in people as they offer the best returns.”, and “Always leave a place better than you found it.” These will long echo with his more recent additions of “No Complaints!” and “The Lord has given me a good life!”.

Albert is survived by his daughters: Karen Vander Linde, Judith (Bruce) Schuelke of Butte, MT and Mary (Loren) Bell of Tigard, OR; and his grandchildren: Courtney (Evan) DeCan of Los Angeles, CA, Logan (Samantha Beck) Schuelke of Boise, ID and Emily Bell of Tigard, OR.

Albert will be greatly missed by family and friends. He lived a long happy life and touched the lives of many. No local services are planned. Interment will take place in Emery, South Dakota. The family plans to gather at a later date to celebrate his life. Express condolences at www.wayrynen-richards.com.

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