Albert "Tarz" Bertrand

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  • "He was the best grandfather a girl could have I will miss..."
    - joanne O'Brien
  • "Sorry to hear of the passing of Tarz one of my fellow..."
    - Elmer Boston
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Albert 'Tarz' Bertrand

SANFORD - Albert "Tarz" Bertrand, 96, of Sanford, died Oct. 16, 2013, at the Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough.

Tarz was a man ahead of his time. His fun-loving and healthy approach to life, his devotion to family, his outpouring of community service and strong dedication to fellow veterans made him a man worthy of note.

He was born in St. Andrea, PQ, Canada, on July 1, 1917, the son of Edward and Marie Bertrand. He came to this country as a child and became a citizen at the age of 8.

He attended Sanford schools and worked in the local mills to help support his family. He later worked at Pioneer Plastic, Eastern Plastic and, finally, at WASCO, where he retired at the age of 72.

Inspired by the Ringling Bros. Circus at the age of 15, Tarz began tumbling, weightlifting and body building. In 1941, he was awarded the first title of Mr. Maine. That same year, he became the Middle Weight Lifting Champion of Maine. Even into the 1980s, he continued to put on strength and balancing exhibitions at the Mr. Maine contest.

In 1979, he became the first member of the Sanford-Springvale YMCA, where he worked out for 90 minutes six days a week. This was in addition to a 10-mile bike ride and 35 minutes of yoga daily. He continued this routine into his late 80s. He is proud to say he did his last handstand at the age of 80. While at the YMCA, he volunteered, teaching children how to swim, dive and exercise.

Tarz was a fixture at the YMCA. He was its strongman, its human pretzel, its "Godfather of Fitness." On Aug. 31 of this year, representatives of the YMCA traveled to the Veterans Home in Scarborough to present him with two plaques, a hat and a cake. One of those plaques will be affixed to a wall in the YMCA's new expansion.

Tarz proudly served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1941-1945, reaching the rank of corporal while serving in the Battle of Kwajalein, the Battle of Saipan and the Battle of Tinian during World War II. He was also stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for 16 months.

While serving in the Pacific, Tarz and 37 other Marines formed an acrobatics group to perform for the troops. They flew all over the Pacific islands, performing for the troops in areas that were too dangerous for Bob Hope and the USO to visit. In the audience were such people as Henry Fonda and General Holland Smith.

His love and dedication to the Marines continued, and he believed and honored the motto, "Semper Fidelis." He donated monthly to the Disabled American Veterans and, when Desert Storm began, he wrote letters of support and encouragement to young Marines serving overseas.

He was a member of the AMVETS and the VFW.

Tarz was predeceased by his wife of 62 years, Katherine "Kitty" (Wyman) Bertrand, in February.

Survivors include his son, Randy Bertrand, and his wife, Bonnie, of Dover, N.H.; daughter, Sharon Waterhouse, and her husband, John, of Sanford; son, Craig O'Brien, and his wife, Pam, of Sanford; son, Richard O'Brien, and his wife, Sandra, of Springvale; son, Wayne Tuttle, of Massachusetts; 14 grandchildren; and 20 great grandchildren.

Military honors will be rendered at the Southern Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Springvale on Friday, Nov. 8, at 11 a.m.

Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider the Wounded Warrior Project, P. O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675.

Arrangements are under the direction of Black Funeral Homes & Cremation Service, Sanford-Springvale. Condolences can be expressed at

Published in Fosters from Oct. 24 to Oct. 27, 2013
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