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 Alfred “Al” Podboy

Alfred “Al” Podboy

Johnstown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 17 Dec 2012 (aged 89)
Barrington, Lake County, Illinois, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 102304184 · View Source
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December 17, 2013

Dear Pops,

One year has passed since I last heard your voice. I came into your room at hospice and you opened your eyes and asked, "How is my Princess today?" Then you smiled and dozed off again. You took your last breaths less than five hours later. I was there at that special moment and felt honored to share it with you. You've come back to visit and give me strength since then. I knew that you would and told you so many times. We had a special relationship, you and I, that evolved and grew deeper with the passage of time.

You were complicated, both a child of the era in which you grew up, and as someone who took pleasure in the simple things in life. You were stubborn, impatient and opinionated. You could fold fitted sheets like a pro. You really liked to garden, fish, swim and go to Wisconsin, but the desire to do those things waned the older you got. You liked to read: spy and espionage novels, the Daily Herald newspaper every morning, and my Time magazine. You liked to watch TV: national and local news, The Tonight Show (always taped on the VCR the night before and watched following the national news broadcast the day after), Survivor, NCIS, Shark Tank, The Apprentice, 60 Minutes, football, boxing, Breaking Bad, Desperate Housewives, 24, Fear Factor, The Mentalist and America's Funniest Home Videos. You liked your coffee black and very strong. You were picky about what you liked to eat as long as you could do so while watching TV: meatloaf, pot roast, bacon, soft-boiled eggs, Italian sausage and beef stroganoff; sweets like Potica, cake, cookies, ice cream, popsicles and scones from Meijer; fruit like grapes, strawberries, cherries, frozen banana slices, watermelon, blackberries and raspberries. You always needed to make yourself a "bowl of goodies" to take to your room for your afternoon nap and at night when it was time to go "nigh-nigh." You couldn't go to or stay asleep without your radio tuned to and blaring an AM all-news station. You absolutely detested eating out, and gave anyone who would listen an earful about all the gross things that were allegedly done to a plate of food before it ever left a restaurant's kitchen to be served to an unsuspecting customer.

You rarely talked of growing up in your family, but I imagine the dynamics must have left their mark. You lost two brothers in infancy and the other two brothers when they were young adults. You and Aunt Ruth were the only two to survive to old age, and you outlived her by 15 years. I do know that as an adolescent you were quite the wild child; hopping freight trains with your buddies and not really knowing or caring where you'd end up, greasing the railroad tracks in the hills near your home so the trains couldn't get up the incline, and -- my personal favorite -- breaking into mining company storage sheds to steal dynamite to "play" with. How you were not caught and sent to reform school or the Big House as a juvenile delinquent, I'll never know.

Your mistrust and dislike of doctors went back to your childhood. Born with a clubfoot and bad knees that got only worse from your days of trying to outrun the trouble you got yourself into, you had your share of medical calamities. There was the time you were stung so badly by yellowjackets as a child that you could have, should have, gone into anaphalactic shock. Or the time your appendix burst without warning when you were in your early teens. There was the time you were cutting down trees by yourself in Wisconsin with a chainsaw and the blade slipped and sliced open your leg (you called it a flesh wound). And who could forget the time you went in to get your hip replaced and ended up with with a life-threatening blockage in your colon that burst before you could even get prepped for surgery to fix it? You lost your entire colon with that one, yet you survived every single experience except the mystery one that eventually took your life. I think it was because you lost your will to live. You often said that you always thought you'd die before Mom. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she fought the good fight but succumbed a few years later. A big part of you died with her that February afternoon in 1983. That was the first time I ever saw you cry. When Peggy was diagnosed with the same disease eight years later, she was so determined to beat what her mother could not. And beat it she did through chemo, radiation, two bone marrow transplants, and surgery to put a titanium rod in her neck because the cancer chewed away the bones over eight long years. But then you lost Peggy to the same cancer scourge in February 1999 and once again I saw you reduced to tears of profound sorrow and helplessness. I cannot fathom the pain you felt at losing your wife and daughter to the same disease.

After Peggy died, our relationship began a new chapter. My MS progressed to the point where I had to stop working. We moved from a split-level home to a ranch. You continued swimming daily laps at the pool, but eventually gave that up without really explaining why. I got tired of falling down and you got tired of calling the paramedics to pick me up off the floor, so I gave up walking and started using a power wheelchair full-time. You became my caregiver and surprised everyone because they all expected a frail old man and you were anything but. You did a hell of a good job too and were a very hard act to follow. But I knew you were tired and that you wanted to leave. "It's time," you said.

I just want to thank you, Pops, from the bottom of my heart for helping to make me who I am today. You and Goose raised me to be independent, resilient, thoughtful and to not take crap from anyone. I hope I make the both of you proud.

Published in the Chicago Tribune on Dec. 23, 2012:

Alfred Podboy of Carpentersville, formerly of Mount Prospect and Chicago, died on Dec. 17, 2012, at age 89, after a three day stay in hospice following an illness of several months. Al was born in Johnstown, Penn., on Aug. 25, 1923 to Frank and Pauline Rok Podboy. He was preceded in death by all of his siblings: Ruth, Raymond, Eugene, Thomas and Donald Podboy.

In 1941, Al graduated from Conemaugh Valley High School in Johnstown, Penn., He worked for the railroad before enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II and served as an Aviation Machinist Mate, 2nd Class. While stationed in Chicago, he met and married the love of his life, the former Esther Pecaro on Dec. 30, 1943. After the war, Al and Esther settled in Chicago and raised a family. Al worked as a railroad switchman, furniture refinisher, tile packer and laundryman before finding work at U.S. Rubber Co. (Uniroyal). He stayed with Uniroyal for 32 years, retiring in 1982 as a foreman.

Al was the husband of the late Esther Podboy who died in 1983; father of Ronald (Janet), Donna (Robert) Sulkosky, Patricia, and the late Peggy Podboy who died in 1999; grandfather of James (Tammy) Podboy; great-grandfather of Taylor Podboy; and grandpops to kitties Lena, Sage and Shaman (aka Jessy).

There will be no services per Al's request to be cremated. A celebration of his life and disposition of his ashes will be done at a future date at his family's convenience. Memorial donations may be made to the Hospice & Palliative Care of NE Illinois, 405 Lake Zurich Rd., Barrington, IL 60010.

Family Members

Gravesite Details He was cremated on Dec. 21, 2012.

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  • Created by: Patti Podboy
  • Added: 17 Dec 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 102304184
  • Patti Podboy
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Alfred “Al” Podboy (25 Aug 1923–17 Dec 2012), Find A Grave Memorial no. 102304184, ; Maintained by Patti Podboy (contributor 46952229) Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.