Aldon 'Al' Elwood Purdham Sr.
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SALISBURY - CAPTAIN Aldon "Al" Elwood Purdham, Sr. (USN Retired), age 85, of Salisbury, passed away on Tuesday, July 1, 2014, at the Veterans Affairs Hospice House.
Al was born December 28, 1928, in Shenandoah, VA, the son of the late Carvey and Lena Purdham.
Al graduated from Shenandoah High School and then attended Roanoke College in Roanoke, Virginia, before transferring to Lenoir-Rhyne University, in Hickory, North Carolina, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in English. He subsequently received a Master in Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina.
After being ordained as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Al successfully developed a mission church in Portsmouth, Virginia, named Communion Lutheran Church, and another in San Diego, California, named Shepherd by the Sea Lutheran Church. It was then that Al joined the United States Navy Chaplains Corps.
For the next 26 years, Al served in 11 assignments around the world, including three tours supporting the US Marine Corps, one of which was in Vietnam; deployments on a destroyer and aircraft carrier; and locations in Alaska, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Virginia. His US Navy career culminated as the Chief of Chaplains for Camp Pendleton, California, where he oversaw 12 chapels, supporting thousands of Marines at one of the largest bases in the US Marine Corps. While on active duty, Captain Purdham also received a Master of Education and Education Specialty from the University of Virginia. In the Navy, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with Combat "V", Navy Commendation Medal with two gold stars and numerous other unit commendations.
Upon retirement from the Navy, Al returned to his roots as a Lutheran pastor, helping to start two more Lutheran churches in Virginia and North Carolina and rejuvenate two more in the same states. While it was an honor for him to serve in these capacities, he most appreciated and enjoyed his roles as a son, brother, father, father-in-law, grandfather, and friend to so many he loved dearly.
Preceding him in death, in addition to his parents, were his wife, Elizabeth "Betty" Mae Purdham, and sisters Colleen Gordon, Norma Dennis and Joyce Foreman.
Those left to cherish his memories are his daughter, Marilyn Bollinger (Rev. Craig) of Charlotte, NC; son, Aldon Elwood Purdham, Jr. (Lauralyn) of Colorado Springs, CO; sister, Shirley Nash; grandchildren, Sonia, Steven and Sarah Bollinger and Jordan, Delaney, Lindsey and Sydney Purdham; and many loving nieces and nephews.
Service: 1 p.m. Thursday, July 3, at St. John's Lutheran Church in Salisbury, conducted by Rev. Rhodes Woolly.
Burial: 10 a.m. Friday, July 4, at Mt. Nebo Lutheran Church, Rochelle, VA.
Memorials: In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to a church, charity or school of donor's choice.
Summersett Funeral Home is assisting the Purdham family. Online condolences may be made at www.summersettfuneralhome.com.
Summersett Funeral Home, Inc. & Cremation Center - Salisbury
1315 West Innes Street
Salisbury, NC 28144
Published in Salisbury Post on July 2, 2014