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Albert Boehne, 100, dies after long illness; father of Rich Boehne, he ‘built his own boat’ (literally)

Albert Boehne of Fort Thomas, died February 7 following 100-plus years of life marked by dedication to family, hard work, good fishing and service to his country.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Thelma, and two children, Mary Slaughter and Rich Boehne, retired E.W. Scripps Company president and CEO.

He was born Oct. 3, 1919, in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Charles Boehne, an orphan who grew up in the care of nuns at St. Aloysius in Cincinnati, and Elizabeth Wade, an English immigrant. The family soon moved south, to Cincinnati, then ventured across the Ohio River to Covington, where they endured the economic depression of the 1930s and survived the Ohio River flood of 1937, which late one night chased them from their home. Al graduated from Covington’s Holmes High School in 1938.

Albert Boehne

Like so many, Al’s work and family life were interrupted by military service during the Second World War. He trained and served as an airplane mechanic in the U.S. Army Air Corps, spending the bulk of his war time in England keeping B-17 bombers flying to and from their targets in Europe. In 2011 at the age of 91, he agreed to join an Honor Flight of veterans for a day touring the nation’s capital. There, beside the WWII memorial, he spoke softly and directly to inquisitive schoolchildren about the vital victories and horrendous costs of the conflict that defined his generation.

Following the Second World War, Al’s family moved to a farm in Grant’s Lick, fulfilling his father’s dream of escaping the city. It was in that rural community that he met his future wife, Thelma Jean Moore. They were married in 1954 at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, not far from their families’ farms.

Al and Thelma then settled in Fort Thomas, closer to the factory where he worked in Norwood, Ohio. In Fort Thomas, they raised two children, Mary and Rich, and enjoyed 65 years together.

He spent most of his working life at American Laundry Machinery, a producer of commercial fabric cleaning equipment based in Norwood. On his son’s 1956 birth certificate, Al’s occupation is listed as “sheet metal worker.” Over the years he worked up the manufacturing process, spending the latter years of his career handling final inspection and quality control for the factory’s products.

As a kid from a working-class family who struggled through the Great Depression, he never purchased anything that could instead be built in his workshop, nor did he ever hire a service unless he absolutely could not make the repairs himself.

In the early 1970s he decided to build a fishing boat in the basement; large enough to navigate the rivers but just small enough to be birthed through the home’s garage doors. The result of his meticulous craftsmanship was “Al’s Ark,” an Oak-frame, all-wood runabout which then carried Al, Thelma, children and grandchildren for many years along the waters of the Ohio and Licking rivers and lakes in Northern Kentucky.

From boat or bank, he loved to fish. As a child during hard times, Al fished for food in the Ohio River, across the road from their home. Later it was his recreational passion. Most of his grandchildren caught their first fish on hooks that Al had baited for them.

Al is survived by his wife of 65 years, Thelma Jean, and their two children, Mary Slaughter (Tim) and Rich (Lisa). He had five grandchildren: Alison, Kate and Kelly Slaughter (Jarred Williams); and Luke Boehne (Courtney Codina), and Jacob Boehne (Adalia Powell-Boehne). Al had two great-grandchildren, Elijah and Sophia Boehne.

He was preceded in death by all of his siblings: Edward Boehne, who died as an infant, and sisters, Alice Kerr, Margie Waldenmeyer, and Elizabeth Torline Milne, who died in 2019 at age 97. In their final years as the lone surviving siblings, Liz and Al shared meals and talked about the blessings and challenges of their long lives.

Visitation will be held at Dobbling Funeral Home (Ft.Thomas), 106 S. Ft. Thomas Ave., on Wednesday (Feb. 12) from 9 a.m. until time of service at 11 a.m. with Rev. Jeremy Shannon officiating. The burial will take place at Evergreen Cemetery.

Memorials are suggested to the St. Elizabeth Hospice, 483 South Loop Road, Edgewood, 41017.

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