CHARLEVOIX — John Robert Alberts, 84, died Jan. 4, 2014. One of his goals was to make it to the new year and he succeeded in that. He loved life, appreciating and treasuring every moment and felt fortunate to have each day that he was given. He never complained, even after his long illness confined him to his wheelchair and eventually to the house. Every morning he looked out of the window and commented on the beauty that he saw outside.
For most of his life he had a great deal of energy which allowed him to enjoy many interests and activities. He loved music, especially jazz and classical. Other favorites were writing poetry, photography, art museums, art associations and galleries, sailing, hiking and backpacking, sports car driving and races, horseback riding, skiing, antiques and travel. In every country and city that we visited he found interesting and friendly people, history, culture and beauty.
John was an animal lover, especially dogs and cats. He worked for animal rights and conservation. He did not eat meat from factory farms for many years because of the inhumane conditions under which the animals were raised. He also worked for human rights. He had strong convictions and principles and stood behind them squarely.
After graduating from Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw, John worked for Morley Brothers and for Northern Industrial Supplies in Saginaw. He then joined the Army, serving during the Korean Conflict. When he was discharged from the Army, he enrolled at Michigan State University where he starred in a Main Stage Production as well as many other events.
On Aug. 9, 1958 he married Raechel Goetz and they remained together for 55 years until his death. After they taught in Michigan they decided to move to California where they lived for 30 years, continuing to teach. John served as a drama teacher in Pomona, Calif. and with great student help, he created an invitational celebration of theater that hosted the finest student talent in southern California. Later he became a member, then chairman of the Pomona Cultural Arts Commission. At that time the Fox Theater, which had hosted the Hollywood previews of new films, was preserved as a landmark. While in California, John and his wife also ran an antiques business and managed several of their rental units.
Returning to Michigan, John became one of the founders of the Charlevoix Circle of Arts and was active in performance poetry, often with jazz musicians. This led to a book of his poetry and a CD of his readings, both entitled “Playing Until Dark.” His intention was to play until his own darkness and, as well as he could, he did.
John felt that his life was a balance of what he thought of as foolish diversions and exemplary actions. This balance tipped toward the positive, to lift him to grand courage, great achievement and much pleasure to those that he taught and led, often changing their lives.
John was preceded in death by his parents, Vern and Ellen Dankert Alberts of Saginaw; his brother, Vern and sister-in-law, Peggy Alberts of Saginaw; his nephew, Gary Alberts of Saginaw; his father and mother-in-law, William and Hazel Smale Goetz of Hessel; his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Donna and Robert Muscoe; his nephew, Paul Muscoe of Cedarville; and his brother-in-law, Austin “Joe” Olmstead of Charlevoix.
In addition to his wife, Raechel, he is survived by his sister-in-law, Karen Olmstead of Charlevoix; his sisters-in-law Ruth Cutler and Laurel Tigner, both of Cedarville; his nephews and nieces, Tony and Micki Hagen, Leanna Mosoryak, Mark and Carol Muscoe, Brian and Dawn Muscoe, Robyn and Daryl Hill, Cris Cutler, Tracy Olmstead, Darlene Muscoe, Bill Tigner, Mary Rassanen-Tigner, Raechel Wright, and Gretchen and Todd Silas. He is also survived by the wonderful children of his nieces and nephews and their families. In addition the special people whom he considered part of the family: Michael Rayson, Gail Innes, Madison Ramsey, Scott Olmstead, Peggy Tigner, Ginny Foltz, and Margaret Garvey.
John did not want a funeral but we hope to have a celebration of his life this summer. A bronze plaque will be placed on his father’s grave. Next to the driveway at his home, a memorial bench has been placed adjacent to a memorial tree for his brother, a bronze table for his brother’s son, and a memorial post honoring the many dogs and cats that we were fortunate to befriend. You may react in so many ways: a note, an e-mail, a phone call or listen to some jazz or your favorite music. If you have his book, “Playing Until Dark,” or his CD of the same name, you could attend to the last poem, “Brief Instructions on Going Home.” He wrote it a few years ago as his own farewell.