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1928 - 2014 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Albert Edward Castel III Obituary
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July 22, 2018

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Preview Entry
July 22, 2018

Please don't submit copyrighted work; original poems, songs or prayers welcomed. reviews all Guest Book entries to ensure appropriate content. Our staff does not correct grammar or spelling.

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 Memories & Condolences
This Guest Book will remain online permanently courtesy of Rutherford Funeral Home Powell.
February 7, 2015
Al was an inspirational teacher and gifted writer.
January 18, 2015
I was very sad to read a notice about Dr. Castel's passing... though appropriately, it was printed in an edition of CIVIL WAR NEWS.

As a life-long Civil War buff, I was very familiar with Dr. Castel's reputation as a historian. And I was extremely privileged to get to know him through correspondence and telephone conversations while working with him to create maps for two of his books - BLOODY BILL ANDERSON, and
VICTORS IN BLUE. I enjoyed learning some of his, in his youth, how he was influenced by the movie GONE WITH THE WIND, for example. It was especially interesting to hear him speak about an imaginative cartoon character of his own creation...and the volumes of material he produced over the years.

His loss leaves a void on many levels.
December 1, 2014
My wife and I wish to express our condolences to the family of Albert Castel, who married my first cousin George Ann Bennett, mother of Ann and Charles. Al and his family used to make trips back to George Ann‘s hometown of Fairmont, West Virginia from Kalamazoo, Michigan to see visit relatives and friends. Her mother (Eunice) and my mother (Madge) were sisters, daughters of Henry and India Triplett from Fairmont.

The first time I met Al was at our family home on Fleming Avenue shortly after he and George Ann married. My mother would always prepare a delicious meal for everybody each time they visited. Al thoroughly enjoyed dining over a home cooked meal, all the while enriching the conversation around the dining table by discussing historical events. As we got to know Al better, we learned he was a prolific writer who focused on Civil War history. Little did we realize at the time that he would become a highly respected author and one of the leading historians of the Civil War. Nor did we anticipate that any of us would become personally involved in some of his historical research.

I first visited with the Albert Castel family and my dear Aunt Eunice in the summer of 1965 in Kalamazoo after graduating from college and before entering the Marine Corps. I recall the delicious dinners George Ann prepared during my visit. She was a great gourmet cook and wonderful first cousin. Nobody walked away from her dinner table feeling hungry. My first introduction to the Greek pastry baklava, which was served after dinner, was at their home. It was so good. She also encouraged me to become involved in researching the Triplett and Harvey family histories through genealogy.

During the day when school was in session, Al and George Ann taught at Western Michigan University. They would take me on campus so that I could visit with Aunt Eunice, who was the girl's dormitory director. We would converse about family and various topics of interest. Several times she introduced me to some of the female residents and even set me up with a couple of dates. They wrote to me when I was in Vietnam. It was always a good feeling to receive mail from Kalamazoo during a period of time when there were few “round eyes” to talk to.

On April 30, 1987 a 20 year reunion of Vietnam Veterans from the Battle of Hill 881 South took place at Veterans Plaza in downtown San Antonio. I was among several invited guests to attend since a poem “Death At My Door” I penned during the battle was inscribed on the red granite base of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Titled “Hill 881 South,” the large bronze statue depicts a Marine rendering aid to his wounded comrade who later died.

Al became interested in the origin of the poem and its inspiration, so he inquired about it. After some discussion he suggested I write about my combat experiences at Hill 881 South on April 30, 1967, near Khe Sanh. We talked some about writing an article together for publication. At first I was hesitant because I didn't want to go back to Vietnam in my mind and relive old and somewhat unpleasant memories. However, I gradually agreed (by his encouragement) to write about my recollections and send them to him. If somebody else other than Al had asked, I'm not sure I would have written anything. In any case, he felt there was some historical significance to merit writing about the poem's origin.

Al also requested a copy of my letters written to my family during 13 months of combat duty in Vietnam. I sent the letters, which were bound in a hard-back two-inch binder, to him along with a note saying there wasn't much in them related to actual combat. I had purposely written low-key letters to void upsetting my parents. Al returned the letters along with a draft copy of the story that included his opening remarks followed by my personal account and ending with his concluding remarks. After submitting the completed article to a magazine publisher he was informed that the battle had been just a “small skirmish” compared to other battles. This didn't sit well with Al, who recognized that the capture of three strategic hills from the NVA by US Marines during “The Hill Fights” had been costly in terms of numerous casualties. It was the largest battle of the war at that time only to be overshadowed by the 77 day Siege in 1968. The aftermath of the battle became the inspiration for the poem. It was written and dedicated to those who had been killed in combat.

On one of several visits to Kalamazoo after returning home from Vietnam, Al drove me around to see the local sites that included Holland, Michigan. He also took me to meet one of his colleagues who had been stationed in Vietnam as an Army paratrooper and was a collector of books. Al (teasingly) asked his friend where he could find out some historical fact. His friend picked up a book from his collection and turned to the correct page almost immediately. Al just grinned and complimented him.

My older brother Michael always liked to tell the story of learning from local attorneys in Elkins, West Virginia about the existence of county court records used during the divorce proceedings of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson's sister, Laura Ann, who resided in Beverly during the civil war and sided with the Union. He notified Al during one of his visits about the historical findings. Al became interested and later, accompanied by Michael, traveled to Elkins to research the legal documents.

In the October 1994 issue of Blue & Gray magazine, an article titled “Arnold vs. Arnold” was published. At the end of the article is Al's acknowledgement to Michael. “I wish to thank Michael Rogers of Fairmont, WV, for bringing to my attention the existence of the court records in the case of Arnold vs. Arnold, for sharing in the research into those records, and for chauffeuring and guiding me through the lovely mountains of his home state. This article is his as much as it is mine, for he made it possible.”

Al once showed me his private study that contained a large collection of historical material he had obtained in the Atlanta area while doing research for an upcoming book. The book was published several years later under the title “Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864.” Al was awarded the Lincoln Prize for the best Civil War book published in 1992. It was an honor to have him autograph my copy of the book during the weekend of Ann and Kevin's wedding.

As I continue to age I am reminded that there have been people who influenced me in my journey through life. Albert Castel was one of those people. He taught me about the importance of history and the recording of it for future generations. He encouraged me to collect my thoughts and write about my memories even though some have been accounts of misfortune. It was a real privilege to have known him.

David G. Rogers
November 25, 2014
I had Dr. Castel for Civil War and Reconstruction. At Western Michigan University in 1972. It was a great class.
My deepest sympathy in your loss.