Albert Edward Belon, our dear husband, father, grandfather and friend went to be with his Lord on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, after lengthy illnesses at age 83.
Born in Gap, France, Albert was the only son of Edouard and Augusta Belon. Growing up during World War II, he remembered the German occupation and the American forces coming to liberate his hometown in 1944. After his first year of college, his great-uncle Albert Bernard sent him a plane ticket to Fairbanks to continue his education.
Albert arrived in April 1949 and worked his first summer at a gold mine in Rampart, enrolling that fall as a sophomore at the University of Alaska. He graduated three years later with a degree in physics, while working part-time at the Geophysical Institute. In 1952, he traveled to Los Angeles with best friend, Jerry Romick, and enrolled at UCLA, where he met nursing student, Shirley Herron, on a skiing trip.
After dating for two years, they married on Aug. 21, 1955, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Inglewood, Calif. Albert received his master's degree in physics from UCLA in 1954, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen that same year.
After Shirley's graduation in 1956, they traveled by ship from New York to Genoa, Italy, where Al's parents and sister met them and drove back to Gap together, sightseeing along the way - the first of many trips to Europe for Al and Shirley as well as twice around the world. They moved to Fairbanks in fall 1956 and bought their first home a year later, living for 37 years on Sunset Drive where they raised three children; Nancy, Dennis and Valerie. They were founding members of Zion Lutheran Church in 1958 and later transferred to Light of the World Lutheran Church.
Albert returned to work at the Geophysical Institute during the International Geophysical Year and remained long after. He was appointed associate director of the Institute in 1976. Al was a well-respected professor and administrator. As an editor and author of many scientific papers and research proposals, he had a sharp eye for spotting grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, even though English was his second language.
In 1968, Al traveled to Washington, D.C., along with his family to be a visiting professor at the National Science Foundation. There he headed coordination of U.S. scientific solar eclipse research during spring 1969, earning a Meritorious Service Award from NSF for his efforts. The family returned to Fairbanks in 1970 with their new van camper. Al and Shirley enjoyed traveling, gardening, fishing, berry picking and attending school activities with their children.
After retirement in 1984, Al and Shirley helped Nancy and Dennis build homes in Ester. In 1988, they bought an RV and took many trips around Alaska, Canada, the Lower 48 and Mexico, visiting family and friends along the way. In 1993, Al and Shirley helped design and build their retirement home in Ester, and enjoyed nineteen wonderful years living there.
In 2009, they moved back into town to winter closer to medical facilities. Al needed frequent medical care for his kidney failure and Parkinson's disease. Along with his part-time caregiver, Stacey Evans, Shirley faithfully took care of him. Al lived his last weeks at the Fairbanks Pioneers' Home.
The family thanks Dr. Michael Swenson M.D., and the doctors, nurses and staff of FMC Fairbanks Dialysis, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital/Hospice and the Fairbanks Pioneers' Home for all the wonderful care they provided Albert.
Albert is survived by Shirley, his loving wife of 58 years; children, Nancy (Cole) Sonafrank, Dennis Belon and Valerie Belon; grandchildren, Colette (Alex) Luke, Eli Sonafrank (Maegan Weltzin), and Luciana Belon; his sister, Colette (Andre) Foltz, and family.
Preceding him in death were two infant sisters; his parents; great-uncle, Albert (Ethel) Bernard; and other beloved relatives. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.
Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, at Christ Lutheran Church, off Farmers Loop. Rev. Jason Strong from Light of the World Lutheran Church will officiate. Albert's ashes will be interred at a later date at Northern Lights Memorial Park and at Gap Cemetery in Hautes-Alpes, France. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Fairbanks Pioneers' Home Foundation or KJNP-FM Radio Station.
Arrangements are entrusted to Fairbanks Funeral Home.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Sept. 25, 2013