George Charles Alberts, 91, joined beloved friends and family in heaven’s skies on March 8, 2018.
On Feb. 21, 1927, George was the first-borne in the United States to immigrant parents Charlie and Hilway (Assif Haddad) Alberts on a farm northwest of Gothenburg. As a young man, Shahade Zahoor immigrated from Syria to the US, where his name was changed to Charlie Alberts. Charlie returned to Syria to marry and that is where George’s older brother, Alfred, was born.
George grew up knowing hard work, and lots of it. His parents were determined to make a living in the new country emphasizing honesty and character, even the Depression and dirty ‘30s. Times were so bad “it was like hanging on a string,” Hilway said decades later. The family grew to include twins Jesse and Bessie born less than a year after George, Johnnie and Emil. Also living with the family was Charlie’s mother Mary (Delune Zahoor).
The children attended a one-room school, Southwest Custer District 161, along with friends the Becks, Larsons, Millers, Rodines, Shostroms, and Billy and Rosemary Rubenthaler, who crossed the canyons from the west to walk to school with the Alberts children. Before going to school, George milked cows, and fed hogs and chickens, rising as soon as he heard his parents stirring in the early morning. Throughout his life he went to bed early and got up early.
George attended two years of Gothenburg High School before being drafted into the US Army. He was located at Biloxi, MS and Randolph Field near San Antonio, training to be a tail gunner on a B52 bomber. The time in the Army was the longest and saddest in George’s life. Even in his last weeks, he lamented about his homesickness and never having slept away from home in his life until that time. At Randolph Field, George seized an opportunity in chauffeuring General Mark Clark to his meetings. George later named his first son ‘Mark.’
With just weeks before George was to be deployed overseas, Japan’s surrender ended the war. George returned to Gothenburg, vowing never to leave home again. He married his childhood friend Rosemary Rubenthaler on Aug. 10, 1951 and the next year began renting a farm northeast of Gothenburg. The farm was owned by Sun Theatre owner Glen and Daisy VanWey, and later Ernie and Ethel VanWey. George and Rosemary rented that farm for 39 years, before purchasing it in 1991. Every landlord they had was a trusted friend as well as business partner: Ernest Johnson, Joe Rubenthaler, Elizabeth Johnson, Buster Johnson, Dorothy Brinkhouse, and Alice and Astrid Kjelson, whose father Gustav had rented to Charlie Alberts before George was born.
In 1952 following a late summer hailstorm that left George’s cornfield half down, disaster struck. Attempting to unclog the two-row picker, his right hand got caught. While others had survived similar injuries, gangrene set in and George’s right hand had to be amputated to save his life.
One hand never stopped George from living a normal, hard-working life. With Rosemary at his side they farmed and did livestock chores together. Over his lifetime George fed about 6,000 head of fat cattle, many of those years scooping feed by hand. The couple also raised hogs and chickens. For pleasure and recreation, and following Charlie’s footsteps, they grew watermelons, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and sweet corn, which they thoroughly enjoyed sharing with friends.
George served on the Gothenburg Co-op Elevator Board of Directors. He was KOLN-KGIN’s ‘Proud to be a Nebraska Farmer’ in 2006, and was featured in the Gothenburg Times. He would give the shirt off his back to anyone who needed it.
Left cherishing his memory are wife Rosemary, son Mark (Deb) Alberts of Gothenburg; daughter Cheryl (Russell Irwin), Lincoln; sister Bessie Shada of Kearney; grandson Staff Sergeant Nic (Kristen) Alberts currently of Germany; granddaughter Ashley Alberts; greatgrandchildren Camden and Eden Rose Alberts, and Riley Luebbers; Bryen, Roman and Draven Roach; and River Alberts; Cousin Gesmar Haddad Herdy of Brazil; nieces, nephews and friends.
Welcoming George in the celestial heavens are son Lane Alberts, parents Hilway and Charlie; brothers Alfred and wife Cleta, Jesse and wife Joleen, Johnnie, and Emil and wife Lois; brother-in-law Tony Shada, and Billie and wife Donna Rubenthaler; Grandmother Mary; Uncle Olaf and wife Tildie Albert; Cousins Sadie Albert and Irene Hansen and husband Lloyd; his landlords and friends.
Visitation will be held at Blase-Strauser Memorial Chapel, Gothenburg, Nebraska; Sunday, March 11, 2018, 2 pm - 5 p.m.
Funeral services will be held at Blase-Strauser Memorial Chapel, Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 2:30 pm with Pastor Larry Viter officiating.
Interment will follow in the Gothenburg Cemetery, Gothenburg, Nebraska.
Memorials may be given to Gothenburg Health - Acute Nursing Services, Sun Theatre or donor's choice.