Norbert E. Vogelbacher
1930 - 2014
Norbert Eric Vogelbacher of Long Beach, CA was called home peacefully to the Lord on April 29, 2014, succumbing to cancer. Born in Huningue, France on April 6, 1930 he grew up on the banks of the Rhine River and was twice displaced during World War II. In his youth, he enjoyed soccer; hiking; singing in German for four years while in middle school; and singing in Latin and German in the church choir for four years; and bicycling, which included a 670 mile ride through the Alps to Rome where he received the Easter blessing from Pope Pius XII.
Norbert apprenticed as a pastry chef in Basel, Switzerland. In 1953, following 18 months conscription in the French army as a gun chief and artillery instructor, he immigrated to the U.S., joining his Uncle Arthur and Aunt Rosalie Schweitzer in San Gabriel, CA. In 1954 he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served as a pastry chef at the Army- Navy Officer's Club in the Panama Canal Zone. There, he added Spanish to his French, German and English language skills, along with the Alsatian dialect.
After the army, he worked in Santa Monica, CA where he met Rita Leicht, who had immigrated with her sister from Germany. They married in May 1958 and in the same year, opened Alsace Lorraine Fine Pastries in Long Beach, CA, a pastry shop specializing in wedding cakes that the family operated for 36 years. They were blessed with six children. Sadly, Rita died in 1969. Rose Werz, a distant relative of Rita's, came to help raise the children and has been part of the family ever since.
Inspired watching ships as a youth and with a natural curiosity, Norbert traveled around the world visiting Asia, the Middle East, the South Pacific, and navigated the Rhine, Nile, Amazon, and Yangtze Rivers. Also fascinated by planes, he and his son, Norbert, took a two hour 'flight to nowhere' aboard the Concorde during the San Diego Air Show in 1998.
Intrigued by the history of the world and of his own family, he researched and documented the family tree back to the year 1570 on Rita's side and 1631 on his side. He also wrote an account of his life to be passed down to future generations.
Norbert was a devoted parishioner at St. Barnabas Roman Catholic Church and supporter of St. Mary Medical Center, both in Long Beach, as well as Catholic charities nationally. Whenever asked how he made it through life, he grew speechless, and with a tear in his eye pointed a finger up to his Father in heaven.
He is survived by Rose Werz, his daughter Monica Vogelbacher, son Norbert and daughter-in-law Kim Vogelbacher, daughter Rita and son-in-law Daniel Miles, daughter Linda and son-in-law Allan Rahn, daughter Sandra and son-in-law James Magdaleno, and son Eric and daughter-in-law Lynne Vogelbacher. "Opa" is also survived by ten grandchildren and by his nephew, Alfred Odermatt, of Alsace, France. On Thursday, May 8, visitation services will be held from 4:00-8:00 p.m., with rosary at 6:30 p.m. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, May 9. Both services will take place at All Souls Mortuary at 4400 Cherry Ave, Long Beach, CA 90807. A Celebration of Norbert's life will follow funeral services. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Norbert's name to
. Please sign the guest book at www.presstelegram.com/obits.
Published in the Long Beach Press-Telegram from May 2 to May 7, 2014