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Albert Diener, Jr.

March 17, 2024

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Albert J. Diener, known as Al, passed away peacefully on March 17, 2024, in Forsyth, IL, at the age of 82. He was born in Dunkirk, Indiana. Al was an intelligent and strong-willed man; he enjoyed gardening and nature, traits no doubt borne planting countless pine trees and apple trees on the families plot of land in Indiana, alongside his father, the home affectionately referred to as “The Pine Patch”.

He graduated from Dunkirk high school and went on to attend Saint Joseph’s college in Rensselaer. Al left school and joined the Air Force in 1962, specializing in electronics. After first meeting at a college mixer, he married Patricia Howes of Oak Park, Illinois in 1963. Together they went on to have four children, three boys and a girl, the first two arriving while he was serving in the Air Force stationed in the United Kingdom and stateside. After leaving the Air Force, he used the technical skills he developed from his service and joined IBM. There he built a career that would last nearly three decades with the company, finally retiring in 1996 in Chicago. Sitting down and relaxing was not Al’s idea of retirement, rather he went back to school and completed his undergraduate degree and then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Education; he then joined the Chicago Public Schools and taught middle school for several years before “retiring” a second time.

Al was also deeply concerned with the environment, actively volunteering with various nature restoration efforts where he lived, whether it be via the Friends of the Chicago River while in Chicago or later with Rock Springs Nature Center after moving to central Illinois. He would go on to become a Master Naturalist. At Rock Springs, he enjoyed once again teaching young people about nature and the environment, and how to protect it. He enjoyed being outside in the fresh air, no doubt reminding him of growing up in Indiana at his parents’ home. In his free time he was extremely active, taking up cycling, and hiking. As age made those activities more difficult, he joined Zumba to remain active, as well as joining book clubs at the local library to keep fit mentally.

Al is survived by his four loving children, John (Malissa) Diener of Mesa, AZ, Matt (Karen) Diener of Hawthorn Woods, IL, Chris (Tatiana) Diener of Silver Springs, MD, and his youngest child Jen (Ken) Elsey of Forsyth, IL as well as his cherished grandchildren, Quinton, Nia, Emily, Thomas, Erica, Abigail, Catalina, Tatiana, and Stephanie. He was preceded in death by his parents, his infant brother and his dear sister Anne Pflum.

A private burial for the family will be held on Monday, March 25, in Dunkirk.

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that contributions be made to a nature conservancy near you or the Tunnels for Towers Foundation. These organizations were close to Al’s heart, and any support would be greatly appreciated.

Al will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him. His memory will forever live on in the hearts of his family and friends.