GREAT BEND – Alfred D. Kroeker, 100, died Dec. 18, 2017, at Cherry Village in Great Bend.
He was born Nov. 6, 1917, at Newton, the son of Frank and Matilda (Deckert) Kroeker. He married Eldeen Moore Sept. 14, 1941, at Pawnee Rock. She died Aug. 29, 2008.
After Al and Deenie had been married for six months, Al was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent the next three years serving with the 1st Armored Division. After six months in North Africa, he participated in the night landing at the Anzio Beachhead in Italy and spent the rest of World War II slogging through the Italian mountains with the Division.
When he returned, Al and Deenie moved to Great Bend where he first worked for Foley Tractor Co. and then at Bell Engine Co. as parts manager. Upon returning from Europe, Al joined the Great Bend American Legion Argonne Post 180 where he was a member for over 71 years. He was also a member of the VFW and the 1st Armored Division Association. He served in several capacities in the Legion and presided as Post Commander from 1972-74. In 2004, Al and daughter Sally travelled to Anzio, Italy, for the 60th anniversary of the Anzio Beachhead landing with the Anzio Beachhead Association. There he personally met President George W. Bush and General Colin Powell. A year later, Al travelled with son Bob to Washington, D.C., where they visited the World War II Memorial.
Al was a member of the New Jerusalem Church in Pawnee Rock, and the Congregational, now the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Great Bend. He had a beautiful tenor voice and when Bob and Sally were little he sang a solo version of “O Holy Night” at Christmas Eve services. While at the UCC, Al was an enthusiastic and sometimes mischievous member of the choir.
On Nov. 6, 2017, Al turned 100 years old. He was able to enjoy and celebrate his birthday with many friends and members of the family at Cherry Village. Al made friends wherever he went. He had a smile for everyone. He adored his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Al was an eloquent and prolific writer and often wrote to his grandchildren, describing life on the farm where he grew up in the 20’s. For a number of years he composed a Christmas letter which was read to the family at its Christmas Day dinner.
Raised on the farm during the depression, Al learned self-reliance and resilience. He could fix or make anything. He developed an affinity for horses and could rig multiple-horse drawn wagons and equipment. He often rode his horse to school. Al always had a project in mind or in the works. Late in life he turned from woodworking to painting. Many friends and family members now own Al’s paintings and some adorned the walls of Brookdale. He was a “grandpa” and a sometime life coach to many members of the staff at Brookdale and Cherry Village. Al was an old warrior, a family man, a philosopher and humorist, a true gentleman and a sweet man. He was loved by and an inspiration to all and the world was a better place with him in it.
Al is survived by one son, Bob Kroeker and wife Missy of Overland Park; one daughter, Sally O’Connor and husband John of Great Bend; one brother, Harold Kroeker and wife Betty of Lee’s Summit, MO; grandchildren, Nick Kroeker and wife Jill, Andy Kroeker, and Erin O’Connor and husband Josh Boor; great grandchildren, Nora Kroeker, Max Kroeker, and Josie Boor; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorial services will be at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, at Bryant Funeral Home with Pastor Michael Munz officiating. The family will receive friends from 9:30 a.m. to service time Thursday at the funeral home. Private family inurnment will be in Pawnee Rock Cemetery. Memorials are requested to First Congregational United Church of Christ, Parkinson’s Foundation, or Community LINC, 4012-14 Troost Ave., Kansas City MO 64110 (communitylinc.org), in care of Bryant Funeral Home.
Funeral arrangements provided by
Bryant Funeral Home
1425 Patton Road
Great Bend, KS 67530
Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, Jan. 3, 2018