Albert Pressler

Obituary of Albert Raymond Pressler

Albert Raymond Pressler died on January 6, 2021, at home with his family. He was 90 years old.

Al was born in Newark, NJ, in 1930, and lived his early years primarily in Essex County with a short, but memorable, residency in Dunmore, PA. He was a 1947 graduate of Bloomfield High School, where he made lifelong friends, but also experienced painful anti-Semitism from teachers and administrators. His stated intent at the time was to be an engineer, and he was accepted into the prestigious Cooper Union School of Engineering in New York. At the same time, Al was required to work full time to support his family and, much to his disappointment, was unable to sustain the demanding work at Cooper Union beyond his first year. He later completed his B.S. degree at Rutgers University, becoming the first person in his family to earn a college degree.

Al served as an Airman Second Class (Corporal) in the U.S. Air Force overseas during the Korean War, assigned to the 12th Air Force Erding Air Depot in Erding, Germany. There he worked as a direct aide to (then) Captain Lucius Theus, the unit’s executive officer. Al was very proud of his work with the brilliant Captain Theus, who went on to become only the third Black general in the U.S. Air Force.  Sent home from the service early because of his father’s ill health, Al went on to marry the love of his life, Phyllis (nee Klapholz) in 1953. After being told by doctors they would never be able to have children, Phyllis and Al went on to have five: Patrice, Rick, Scott, Gail, and Joyce, all of whom survive him. Ever a determined and dedicated worker, Al studied nights to earn his Professional Engineers License in 1978, proudly achieving his professional life goal.

As a mechanical engineer for over four decades, Al specialized in designing HVAC and plumbing systems for schools and other public buildings. He was the lead designer on the first New Jersey high school (in Roxbury) to feature both a sprinkler system and air conditioning throughout. He was often called on to correct and improve inadequate building systems, and he became an expert troubleshooter and a creative problem solver, developing a loyal following among his clients in institutions as diverse as Princeton University, Bristol Myers Squibb,  and the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

Al was an eloquent storyteller, a resourceful and frugal child of the Depression, and single-minded in his dedication to providing for his family. From a teenage job as a theater usher he developed an enthusiasm and encyclopedic knowledge of 1940s cinema, and he spent many enjoyable hours in his retirement watching old movies and expounding on the actors and the film’s historic context. When his beloved Phyllis died in 2008 he embraced his life as a widower, forging new friendships and continuing in his role as grandfather to a growing contingent of grandchildren. One of his great joys was to be together with all five of his children, and he often insisted on capturing the moment in a photo.

Al will be remembered for his steadfastness and loyalty to family, his exemplary work ethic, his impeccable honesty, and his quiet determination in the face of adversity. He is survived by his five children and their spouses, his eight grandchildren, his sisters-in-law, his beloved nieces and nephews and their families, and lifelong friends from his childhood. A full memorial service will be announced for the spring, as circumstances permit.

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