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Life Story / Obituary
When you first met Alfred Warwick, you would immediately feel his intensity and seemingly tough exterior. But as you got to know him, you would soon realize that this was a man of integrity and strong loyalty to all close to him. It was no secret that Al was married to the love of his life, and together they raised the family he treasured more than anything else. He worked hard in everything he did, but he also took the time to enjoy life along the way. Life will never be the same without Al here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Life was anything but easy during the dark days of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and things only became more dire with a drought that covered our nation’s heartland for nearly two years during this time. Despite the trials around them, William and Margaret (Binsley) Warwick were able to shift their focus to an exciting time as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Alfred on February 9, 1934, in Bellaire, Ohio. Al had an older brother, Bill, and two older sisters, Marguerite and Lois. Al’s father was a Virginia Tech graduate and civil engineer who specialized in mining and even co-owned a coal mine at one time. His mother was a nurse and housewife. Al attended local schools and went on to Virginia Tech. Al was a member of the Corps of Cadets during freshman and sophomore years. This was a very disciplined group, and through it he learned to march on the fields around campus. He was also a member of the cotillion club, which was a social club that held dances and assisted with volunteers around campus. Al did have “academic difficulties,” but this proved to work out for the best since his mischief eventually led to his introduction to the young woman who would forever hold the key to his heart.
It was while Al was on a break from school that he met a girl named Fonda. He was working at Columbia-Southern Chemical Corporation, located near New Martinsville, West Virginia, after his father got him a job there. Fonda also began working there after high school. Al impressed her as a thoughtful and polite young man, which were character traits his parents taught him. They began an office romance, and although he had asked her to marry him after just a dozen or so dates within the first two weeks, she made him wait until her birthday six months later. Al and Fonda just loved being together and went to the movies every Saturday night. They both got paid every other week, so she paid for the movie when it was her week to get paid and Al paid for the movie when he got paid on the alternate week. They would often walk the streets window shopping for wedding rings after the movie. Although Al was supposed to be saving his money for school, he bought her a ring instead and the couple was married on June 10, 1956, in Moundsville, West Virginia, where Fonda grew up.
The newlyweds moved back to Blacksburg, Virginia, so he could finish his degree at Virginia Tech. They started their lives together in a small apartment under a garage, and from the moment he married Al’s priority was his family. They had a few things to learn as their first load of laundry turned out pink, but they found their way.
Together they welcomed four children, Jim, Phil, David, and Doug, into their hearts and home. Dinner was non-negotiable for Al as they were to eat together every night. Dinner was where their kids learned proper manners since Al was a stickler about them, and they always included things like, “yes ma’am” or “no sir.” Al also taught his children how to set the table and clean up while Fonda taught them how to cook. Many life lessons were shared around the dinner table, even smaller ones like the need to always carry a handkerchief just in case. Al also taught his boys the important things, especially how to treat a woman. He saw to it they knew all the traditional things that show respect to women like holding the door and allowing her to enter the room first. Through his own actions, Al showed great respect and support for his wife and encouraged her to complete her education as well.
Time spent with family was always Al’s favorite. They had a metallic green 1973 Dodge Polara station wagon which they used to pull the camper. To help save money one year, Al even disconnected the air conditioner compressor. They drove across the Midwest without air conditioning, but got excellent gas mileage.
Al loved taking his kids fishing and was always looking for the next new place to cast his line. However, on one trip out West, they saw people floating down the river in an inflatable raft. Al and his family quickly gained a new shared passion and learned to raft the rapids. As a family, they rafted the Colorado, Green, Snake and Flathead Rivers out west, and the New River and Gaulley River in West Virginia.
When he retired in 1999, Al was finally able to go to Alaska. He and Fonda hooked the camper onto the back of their Dodge Polara and saw as much as they could over eight weeks. They drove north of Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle, and together they saw everything: brown bears, glaciers, streams full of salmon, and incredible vistas.
Al was a talented mechanical engineer and he worked hard to support his family. He was proud of his career and had an exemplary work ethic. Although he was a bit of a workaholic Al was always home for dinner. He was always looking for new and better ways of doing things as well. Towards the end of his career Al designed a piece of equipment for a steel plant that was one of the first of its kind in the country. This was quite an accomplishment as he was recognized in engineering magazines for it. Al also put his ingenuity to work when he became interested in model trains, building a rather large complex in his home to showcase his collections of engines and often telling stories of growing up watching the trains chug through the Ohio River Valley.
With unending devotion to his family and friends, Alfred Warwick was such a blessing in the lives of many. He was direct and kept others honest while always remaining positive no matter what came his way. Never one to back down easily, he loved the thrill of a challenge. His robust laugh was contagious, and he brought joy to so many. Deeply loved, Al will be forever missed.
Alfred Warwick, formerly of Jackson, MI, died peacefully on July 12, 2019. Al’s family includes his wife, Fonda; 4 children: Jim (Judith Dittman) Warwick, Phil (Barb) Warwick, David (Mary Jo) Warwick and Doug Warwick; grandchildren: Matt, Alex, Amber, Courtney, Elizabeth, Katherine, Sarah, Gordon, Leah, Nathan, Josh, Kayla, and Tristan; great-grandchildren: Cayden, Seton, Annalea; and many nieces and nephews. Al was preceded in death by his brother: Bill; and 2 sisters: Marguerite and Lois. A funeral service will be held at 11a.m. on Wednesday (July 17) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, (269) 375-2900 with a luncheon following in the Life Story Center. Burial will take place following the luncheon. Visit Al’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Parkinson’s Foundation or Alzheimer’s Association.