Albert Fredrich "Al" Bangert - In Memoriam
- Published on Friday, 20 April 2012 22:38
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
Albert Fredrich "Al" Bangert, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend, passed away peacefully on March 11th, 2012 at the age of 76 years.
Al, whose family home is in Roseville, had been a resident for over a year in the “Villa”, the Alzheimer’s - Dementia wing of the Benedictine Health Care Center of Innsbruck at New Brighton, MN. Al fought a long battle and a weary struggle with Lewy Body Dementia before being called home by God on March 11th, 2012.
Al's early Childhood Years
Al was born on July 26th, 1935 in Clotho, Todd County, Minnesota. Al was one of 8 sons and 4 daughters in a family of 12 Children born to Fred and Laura (Haefner) Bangert. Al’s heritage is German. Al’s great grand parents came to America from Prussia in the 1850’s.
Al's parents managed a Dairy Farm at Clotho with his father also working as a Carpenter, Al’s mother Laura died when Al was only 10 years of age. In later years, Al's brother Henry took over the management of the farm.
(Photo below right - Al and Granddaughter Laura on tractor - old Bangert Farm - ca, 1991-2)
Al attended grade school in Long Prairie, MN. Al loved reading and by the time he finished grade school in Long Prairie, he had read every book in the school library.
On his own, and after his mother's death, Al moved to St. Paul to attend the Concordia High School.
Al and his devoted wife Mavis first met at Concordia High School in St. Paul in the early 1950’s.
This meeting became one of the legendary “High School Sweetheart” affairs that lasted for 56 years. This love affair and marriage was was ended by one of the cruel dementia diseases. The love affair lives on in the memories of Mavis and her family.
Al and Mavis were married on May 29th, 1955 at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Annandale, MN.
Al's Career at State Farm
Al started his lifelong career with the State Farm Insurance Companies in 1952, working in State Farm’s old St. Peter Street location in St. Paul. Al started at a bottom position in the company working in the mail-room. Al progressed upward to end his career with one of the most important positions in the company, that of a commercial lines underwriter in the State Farm Fire and Casualty Company. There is no more important function or position in the company then that of an Underwriter who determines the quality of the business insured by the company. The dedication and the proficiency of the people in these job positions are a large factor in the determination of the companies’ future financial health and stability.
It was during Al’s career with the State Farm Companies that he obtained his CPCU designation. (Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter) This distinction and designation at that period in time was probably the Property and Casualty Insurance Industry’s highest academic achievement. The normal study period is five (5) years based on five (5) distinct study area’s that were outlined for each of five (5) academic years. At the end of each of the CPCU academic years a nationally held 3 hour written examination is held to determine if the candidate had successfully completed that year’s course of study. Each year, all candidates for the CPCU designation who have successfully completed all parts of the five year course of study, can receive their CPCU designation at an annually selected conferment city in the US. Al received his designation and this honor at San Francisco in 1967. State Farm Insurance Companies, who sponsored Al, sent both he and Mavis to San Francisco for the conference of this organization. The conference and the week ended with the conferment ceremonies.
Because of failing eyesight, Al was forced to retire in 1975 after 23 years with State Farm.. After only a year in medical retirement, Al with the assistance of the State Services for the Blind, worked with State Farm to install equipment that magnified the work documents onto a screen in a manner that enabled Al to resume his employment. Al’s final retirement year was in 1997 after an additional 21 years. Al’s total employment years with State Farm were an amazing 44 years!
Al and his struggle with Lewy Body Dementia Disease
Al's Family believes that some of Al’s early Lewy Body Dementia symptoms started appearing at around 1998. Al was not formally diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia until June of 2010. Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy Body Disease are the two most common forms of the dementia producing diseases. Alzheimer’s accounts for 70-80% of all dementia cases with Lewy Body Disease as the 2nd most common form of dementia. Estimates of the prevalence of Lewy Body Dementia varies from 5-20% of all dementia cases. The disease sometimes difficult to diagnose, is often associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases and it is not uncommon to have dual diagnoses with these diseases. The dementia diseases like Lewy Body, Alzheimer's, Front Temporal Lobe, Huntingtons, are all progressive and terminal diseases. The diseases take control of the brains and minds of some of our brightest people and reduce them to needing total care for their continued survival. The diseases are always terminal. It is estimated that at the point the disease becomes a part of the life of the victim, their longevity is reduced ot one half of the expected.
Al's daughter Mary tells that during the time she worked for one of the State Farm Agents, she had occasion to call Al for help on commercial applications. In her words: "I was always amazed by his remarkable memory, because when I called he knew without hesitation where to find the answer I needed. This was no small feat, as there were three very thick commercial lines manuals. He would immediately recall the correct manual, page number, and paragraph for me. Needless to say, he made my job a lot easier. Sadly, this is one of the cruelest things about Lewy Body Dementia, my Dad's memory must have been nearly photographic and the disease took this from him, along with many other things.:.reading became difficult for him by the time he was thirty five years of age or so due to the gradual loss of his vision, it seems as though he was a voracious reader before then. He was a higly intelligent person, and that was robbed from him by Lewy Body Dementia."
I scheduled my visitations with Al at the Villa of the Benedictine every Wednesday in the early afternoon. This schedule permitted me to first visit my wife June's grave at Lakewood Cemetery around noon with prayers and then go directly to the Benedictine. My visits coincided with the serving of the afternoon snack at the Benedictine. The snack selected for serving on Wednesdays tended to always be a small chocolate sundae. It was usually my privilege to be the one to assist Al in feeding him his chocolate sundae. He loved the chocolate sundaes...I would usually request a sundae for myself but knowing how Al enjoyed this treat, I would give him mine so he would end up having two. Since I was really not supposed to have ice cream according to my doctor, I really was not giving up anything! It was one small pleasure I could give Al. I was always pleased and surprised that Al seemed to recognize my voice and almost always thanked me for coming. I always had the cooperation of the staff as most recognized me from my day long visits with June when she was at the Villa...June's old room 207 was only 2 doors away from Al's room!
Note: Common symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia according to Mayo Clinic are: 1. Visual hallucinations, 2. Movement disorders, 3. Delusions, 4. Memory loss, 5. Cognitive problems, 6. Sleep disorders and 7. Fluctuating attention.
Al's Personal Interests
Al enjoyed his hobby of model train collecting. He later achieved the distinction of serving as the National Vice President of the Train Collector’s Association.
While Al was a staunch German with a rich German heritage, he had a flair for and a heart for the Irish. Al's daughter Mary relates that soon after Al's retirement from State Farm, that he along with Mavis and their daughter Linda, made a trip to Ireland. "They ate in an Irish castle, kissed the Blarney stone" and Al "became a little bit Irish. He loved Celtic and Irish Music." One of Al's favorite songs was "Danny Boy". Al's daughter Mary, a professional mezzo-soprano, would sing the song to Al while he was a resident, first at the Good Samaritan Home in Minneapolis and later when he lived in the Alzheimer's Villa at the Benedictine in New Brighton. At the request of Mavis, Al's daughter Mary sang "Danny Boy" as a prelude to the start of Al's funeral service. Mary's son James, (Al's grandson) accompanied her on the piano...it was a difficult time for both in view of the emotions of the moment. For those who also love this beautiful time honored old Irish ballad, here is a version from Ireland:
Al, a devoted family man, loved to sing, give big bear hugs and tell his favorite stories. Al’s legacy at life’s end was that of a man of honor, integrity, love of family and his abiding faith in his Christian religion. While I can not lay claim to being one of Al’s best friends, it was my good fortune to have been one of his many friends whose life was made better by his presence during the 50 plus years of our association together.
(Photo below right is Al and Mavis at the wedding of their daughter Ruth in 1997)
Our two families (Bangert and Berg) share a number of unusual coincidences.
1. Al and Stan both started their employment at State Farm in 1952.
2. Both of the marriages lasted 56 years.
3. Both marriages were ended by the death of one of the marriage partners due to a dementia disease. Mavis lost Al the love of her life and Stan lost June the love of his life.
4. Al and June spent their last days at the Villa of the Benedictine Health Care Center of Innsbruck.
5, Both Al and Stan received their CPCU designations at San Francisco in 1967.
6. Both Mavis and June had their first commercial airlines ride in this trip to San Francisco in 1967.
7. Both Al's and June's dementia disease symptoms were first noted in 1998.
Al is survived by his wife Mavis (Uecker); children, Linda, Mark (Lisa), Ruth (Sean) Ward and Mary (Bob) Monson; grandchildren, Laura (Tim) Blair, Ashley Schumacher, James and Juliana Monson, Alissa and Kelsey Bangert and Noah Ward; great grandchildren, Tristan and Lilian Blair; siblings, Dora (Robert) Webb and Donald; numerous nieces and nephews.
Al was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Laura (Haefner); grandson, Alec Ward; siblings, Henry, Herman, Carl, Marie, Bjerkaas, Walter, Mildred Flink, Violet Lowe, Raymond and William.
Al's Funeral Services
Al’s funeral services were held at the Trinity Lutheran Church of Lake Johanna, 3245 New Brighton Road, Arden Hills, MN on Thursday March 15th, 2012 with Dr. James Gimbel officiating. The sermon was based on Al's confirmation Bible verse of John 3:16 (KJV).
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The Musicians at the funeral services were Andrew Barrett and Jerry Bonstrom. Andrew Barrett was a vocalist who sang "How Great Thou Art" , "The Lords' Prayer" and "Blessing." Jerry Bonstrom, who is Mavis's cousin, was the organist
"An Old Irish Blessing"
"May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand."
The 23rd Psalm (KJV) is one of the World's most beloved Bible passages in both the Jewish and Christian religions. This King James Version of the 23rd Psalm is the most beautiful of all the translations…it possesses a Shakespearean quality of rhythm, beauty and eloquence that literally sings! These beautiful verses were read responsively at Al's funeral service:
"1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."
Pallbearers were Clifford Bangert, Howard Hinz, James Monson, Robert Monson, Noah Ward and Sean Ward. Honorary Pallbearers were Darrell Apelgrain, Russell Bangert, Timothy Blair, Allan Bjerkaas, Carlton Bjerkaas and Forrest Bjerkaas.
Final arrangements were handled by Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell funeral home at 515 Hwy 96 W in Shoreview, MN.
Interment was at the Bethlehem Lutheran Cemetery in Annandale, MN.
Note: A special post funeral Memorial service was held for Al at the Holy Spirit Chapel of the Benedictine Health Care Center of Innsbruck on Thursday April 19th, 2012. The staff Chaplain Fran O'Connor conducted the service. It was a beautiful candle lighting service with favorite songs and the memories of Al by those in attendance were encouraged.
Al’s favorite hymn is “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”. Please click on the below link and enjoy this beautiful Hymn that has so much meaning for Al and and for Al’s family: