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ALBERT CHARLES ULMER - ESSEX, N.Y. - Albert Charles Ulmer passed away peacefully on April 13, 2014, at his home in Essex, N.Y. He was born on Oct. 13, 1938, in Binghamton, N.Y., to Blythe Marion and Albert Ulmer. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Florida State University where he played as a guard and a linebacker and was the captain of the FSU football team. A conscientious objector, he joined the Peace Corps in 1961 and taught high school in Inugu, Nigeria, for two years. In Nigeria, he met Robin Limpus, and they married in 1965. After the Peace Corps, Al bicycled across Europe, volunteered on a kibbutz, and then returned to the States to work in the Civil Rights Movement as an Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow at the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta, Ga. He also served as acting director for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives where he developed farm and alternative energy programs. In the late 1960s, he and Robin moved to Boone, N.C., built a log and stone home (for less than $1,000) and farmed. "For two people tired of cities, racism, and war news, the beauty of the mountains offered special refreshment. It was so very good to get away from it all; the daily barrage of statistics detailing the wheres and hows of death but never the whys, and the withering effect race hatred has on everything it touches, especially love and reason. But one doesn't escape from such things easily," Al wrote at the time. He was a beautiful writer, publishing his work in Will Campbell's "Katallagete" literary journal. In 1972, after the death of their first child, Laurel, Al and Robin left North Carolina. They eventually settled in Williston, Vt., where Al, after constructing his second home, built his career as a stone mason, and quickly became a sought after craftsman and artist. Al was a politically passionate anti-war activist (protesting the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan) and an avid athlete (every Sunday for years he played soccer with a group of Williston families; he also played basketball, tennis, paddleball, and cross-country skied). Having enjoyed bicycling across Europe as a young man, he went back and bicycled 3,000 miles across Greece with Robin and his daughter, Spring, in 1980. In 1989, after having fought the malls and planned development of Williston, Al and Robin resettled in rural Essex, N.Y. There, Al built another stone house, and later purchased and worked a small stone quarry in the hamlet of Essex together with his friend and stone masonry partner, Terry Dinnan. Aside from his stonework, Al was loved for his wit, his fanciful stone sculptures, and his word play. He won at most games - anything from tennis to Scrabble - that he played with friends and family. He liked winning. He invented tools, built bread ovens, and was a particularly original thinker and read widely. Al lived with multiple myeloma, a rare leukemia, for seven-and-a-half years. He worked as a mason and cut his own wood throughout much of this time. Last summer, when he could barely walk due to complications from cancer and chemotherapy, he and Robin built a greenhouse, and he took delight in growing flowers, especially cardinal creepers. He is survived by Robin, Spring, and his sister, Ann Turner of Clearwater, Fla., and her family. There will be no service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to anti-war, humanitarian, and environmental charities in Al's name.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Apr. 14, 2014
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