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Submitted by Olivia Anderson
2727 E Killingsworth Ave. Orange CA 92869 Cell 951.255.3820
10 October 1924 – 26 August 2019
Al was born in Novo Hamburgo, Rio Grande du Sul, Brazil South America, the first child of John and Ludvina (Zimmer) Neukuckatz. His father a graduate of the Lutheran Teachers College in Addison Illinois accepted a call to Brazil S.A. in 1913. He worked as a teacher missionary, married, had four children, and started a school, which eventually developed into the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Novo Hamburgo. Al was baptized in this church on 12 November 1924 by Pastor Otto H. Beer (also co-founder). The Neukuckatz family came to the United States on the 23rd of July 1929 where they resided in the Chicago suburban area. All attended the St. Paul Lutheran Parochial School in Melrose Park, Illinois and graduated in June 1938, and was confirmed in the same year.
He attended the Proviso Township High School in Maywood, Illinois and after graduating (May 1942) entered the Military Service (April 1943) and served in the 43rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (mechanized) as a Tank Commander during the Third Army drive across Europe in World War II. He received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service in connection with military operations in Berg, France 5 November 1944 during which he was wounded and eventually returned to the USA. After the war he attended the Marquette University School of Engineering in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering on March 17th, 1950.
Most Lutheran Churches in those days had an organization for youth called the “Walther League”. That’s where Al and Lillian Spomer really got to know each other. They had a pleasant and exciting courtship and were married at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Melrose Park, Illinois on 28 August, 1948. Al always says it’s the best decision he ever made! About a year later they welcomed their only child into the family. Their son Donald, was born in December 1949.
Al’s working career was in the Aero Space Industry and began at the Cook Electric Co. in Chicago where he managed an Environment Testing Laboratory. He also started a laboratory for them in Dayton, Ohio. He then moved to Rochester, New York and worked for the General Dynamics Corp. as a Logistics manager. In February 1966 Al suffered a heart attack at the young age of 42. His prayers were answered and his recovery was slow but sure. He later went on to hike most of the peaks of California! In September 1967 he accepted a position with TRW in Southern California as a reliability manager in Missile Systems and completed 20 years of service before his retirement in 1987.
Throughout most of his life, Al was very active in the Lutheran Church and served in various capacities and volunteer work. Since moving to California, Al and Lillian had been active members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange. He served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees and president of the congregation. He also enjoyed being a member of the Organ Committee and provided liaison between the designer, builder and the Congregation. Al was always active in the music ministry and sang in church choirs for over 50 years. His love for music continued into his retirement years when he decided to pursue piano and harpsichord tuning and repair. He attended South Coast College and took night courses in piano tuning and repair. Lo and behold, a new career! Although very different from sophisticated electronics, Al considered the felt and wood mechanisms of the piano much more challenging than he had anticipated. He really enjoyed working on old beat up instruments and bringing them back to life. He could never understand why, but it seemed to him that people who own pianos were the most honest, trustworthy, nice people. Al was preceded in death by his wife Lillian of 63 years. He is survived by his son Donald, and granddaughters Olivia and Heatherly, brother Albert, and sisters Elenore and Elsie, and 8 great-grandchildren.
Al wishes to thank granddaughter Olivia for her wonderful love and care during the last years of his life. Also, much thanks to my neighbor Paula Hill for her care and assistance during my last years. God bless them both!