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Al once commented, “I’ve lived through some funny times and don’t get too excited about anything one way or another.”
Albert Delmar Krall (Abe, Al), age 97, died on January 6, 2024, peacefully at home with three of his daughters at his side. He was born in his family home in Monaca, PA at 10 pounds, 6
ounces, joining his sisters Dorothy, Laura, and Mary. A curious and energetic youth, he joined a group of friends who together built a clubhouse by the local river and spent many hours as
River Rats, messing around. He and friends also built a raft that they planned to float down the Ohio and Mississippi on, but only got it a few miles downstream. At 14, he biked with friends
from Pennsylvania to Ohio on a lark. Among the many jobs he held as a youth and young man were working as a printer’s devil, a steel mill worker, a dance instructor for Don Pollini’s Dance
Studio, a bartender, and a repairman for one-armed bandits.
At 17, he repeatedly attempted to join the U.S. Air Force, but was rejected for poor vision. Finally, an exasperated Air Force recruiter sent him to the Naval recruitment office saying,
“They want smart, blind guys like you.” He became a Naval radio/radar/electronics technician assigned to the aircraft carrier Tarawa, which was slated for the invasion of Japan. The release
of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima ended the War in the Pacific, averting his deployment and saving his life, as he remembered it. Returning from military service, Al enrolled at Slippery Rock State College and later Pennsylvania State College where he graduated in 1951 with a BS in Physics. After graduation and moving to Maryland, he was employed by the National Bureau of Standards. He was sent to Point Barrow, AK, installing antenna towers and operating antennas and radio equipment during the Cold War. He enjoyed communicating with Russians, who he knew were trained operatives, commenting he learned how to answer questions without giving any information.
Returning to Maryland, he additionally took on part-time work building submarine controllers in Bethesda, MD, and teaching dance lessons. Later, Al was hired by the Naval Ordinance
Laboratory (which became Naval Surface Weapons Center) in White Oak, MD. He worked there for more than 35 years becoming Division Chief of the Electromagnetic Materials Group. He
published many scientific papers on antennas, microwaves and magnetics and held several patents. Sidebar: his kids always had the most interesting show-and-tell items at school - for
example: man-made diamonds! After his official retirement, he worked as a “Beltway Bandit” (subcontractor) at his same office, desk, and laboratory for several years. He remarked that the
only difference in his job was that he no longer had to “beg for money” during government budgeting season!
Marrying Bettijane (BJ) Tepsic in 1953, he soon became a father of six girls and a boy. Their solid marriage lasted 68 years (until BJ’s death in 2021)! They raised their family in Rockville,
MD, where Al was a father ahead of his time. He bathed, sang, and read to his kids nightly. Many of the songs were from his fraternity days and not quite politically correct! He had extraordinary ability to repair anything mechanical or electrical. Plumbing and electrical upgrades, HVAC installation, auto repair, TV repair and building additions to the home were all
within his wheelhouse.
Al completely lacked interest in appearances. Memorably, he sported a blonde, girl’s wig at the grocery store, having forgotten to remove it after playing dress-up with his girls. His favorite
store was Dart Drug, where he bought all his clothing. He was teased mercilessly that he followed “fashion for physicists”.
Al enjoyed many hobbies. He was an early adopter of organic gardening, following Rodale’s Organic Gardening methods in his backyard garden. Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, grapes,
apples, and the ubiquitous zucchini thrived under his care. All his children remember crack ‘o dawn trips in the rain to Seneca Creek to catch trout. He claimed that the fish were easiest to
catch early on rainy days. He and Mom joined a sailing fleet of Aquacats, racing on the Chesapeake Bay for many years. Later, they vacationed in the Caribbean on Windjammer barefoot cruises where they made lifelong friendships. Al and BJ played bridge their entire adult lives earning the distinction of Master level players. Al was also a shuffleboard champion, using his knowledge of physics to trounce his opponents. His appreciation of music extended from Big Band to Frank Sinatra to classical, but not to “I Shot the Sheriff”! Sunday afternoon dancing in the living room to music on the “Hi-Fi” is a fond memory. Al and BJ went traveling big-time in retirement, touring every state in the continental U.S. and Alaska in their Holiday Rambler fifth wheeler. They completed their state bucket list with a 50th anniversary gift trip to Hawaii from their children. Al’s interest in baking was sparked by the love of pie, which his daughters did not bake. He tolerated being dubbed “Pierre-le-Chef” after his first attempts at making pie crusts. But he got the last laugh after years of perfecting his cooking and baking skills. His pies and bread were the best!
Al was brilliant, constant, methodical, logical, calm, devoted and loving. He led by example, starting the Twinbrook Citizens Association to organize improvements in the neighborhood,
helped build the local swimming pool by hand, and organized can collection drives to raise money for civic projects. His personal army (kids) was deployed to collect for UNICEF, the
American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and to hand out political flyers at election time.
He leaves behind his children Linda (Jim), Laura, Nancy (Bob), Albert (Kristen), Kathleen (Dave), Marianne (Darren) and Suzanne (Debby); 12 grandchildren and their spouses, 5 great-
grandchildren and nieces Marilin, Suzanne, Bonnie, Lynn, Betty, and Kaye.
He was predeceased by his wife Bettijane; his sisters Dorothy, Laura, and Mary; nephews Jimmy and Larry; and great-grandchild Noah Delmar Shoemaker.
Burial will be private.
Al was recently asked, “If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?”. He pondered and responded, “I would just like to do it all over again”. We wish you could too, Dad.
We love and miss you.