It is with great sadness that I tell you that my husband Al has passed away at home on Hospice care. He could fix anything, and if a part was unavailable, he would improvise, make something, and make it work.
It's difficult to pinpoint any single memory, but what I remember most about Al is his uncanny ability to fix almost anything. He was a hell of a design engineer, and with his creative mind, he could look at something and figure out how to design/fix it- vehicle, ATV, toy; if there wasn't a part- no problem- he would design and make something, and virtually it worked every time.
All those hot summer days and nights camping out with friends at Katherine's Landing or Cottonwood Cove listening to James Taylor on Al's 8 Track player are still so fresh in my mind. (The next is before Michelle and Chris were born. Thank God we grew some brains!) One night after drinking all day in the hot sun, someone suggested that we take a midnight cruise. We all thought that it was a splendid idea until Jack (driver) hit the spotlight, and we were almost on shore at full bore. Jack executed a 90 degree turn, we all fell (not overboard, fortunately) and spilled our drinks. We were all so shaken, that we returned to camp silently and went straight to bed. Needless to say, we never did anything that mindlessly stupid again.
Al- my protector and defender for 50 years- I will love and miss you forever-- wait for me, Sweetheart.
I will remember my father always for his strength, resolve, and ingenuity. He amazed me with his seemingly superhuman strength - in a severe windstorm at home in the middle of the night, the front bedroom window shattered. Dad went to the garage and took out a full sheet of plywood, carried it across the yard in the storm and nailed to the front window frame...I will never understand how he did that by himself. Watching him power through tough times in his life showed me that resolve is essential to success. When I watch my son, I see his grandfather's ingenuity and excellent problem-solving abilities shining through. Dad, you will always be in my heart, I love you forever. -- Michelle
As I write this, I find it difficult to put the life of a man into a few paragraphs, so I would like to tell you some things you may, or may not know about my dad, Al Stabio.
Dad was born in 1936 and lived in Guasti, what was an unincorporated area of Cucamonga (just a few miles away from downtown Ontario). Dad would often talk about living in the company housing and since the walls were pretty thin, and not very well built, he would wake up with an outline of sand around his head, since the wind was constantly blowing. Dad’s father, Dominic, was a diesel mechanic and worked for the Guasti Vineyard Company. His mother, Lena, also worked for the Guasti Vineyard Company. When he was 17, he conned a Navy recruiter into letting him join without his parent’s signature. He spent 4 years in the Navy, traveling all over. He once told me about when he was stationed just off the coast of Cuba (this was in the early 50’s). His job was to transport sailors to shore for liberty. One night, he was tasked with taking the Captain of the ship ashore and, by his own admission, was a bit lost because it had gotten quite dark and he had only seen where they were anchored during daylight. The Captain looked at him with a wary eye and said, “Son, you sure you know where you are going?” Dad put on the best poker face he could and quickly said, “Yes, sir” then turned the boat towards the direction where he thought he needed to go. A few minutes later, he figured out the educated guess was correct, much to his relief.
After leaving the Navy, Dad worked for his Uncle, Pete Smiderle, learning the family business- wine making. Well, Uncle Pete gave him many of the less savory jobs, which caused him to decide he was going to go back to school. This, Dad believed, was Uncle Pete’s plan in the first place. Dad began working for General Dynamics, a defense contractor in the Pomona Valley. He worked there for more than 3 decades and truly enjoyed the chance to design things used by the military in defense of our nation. Perhaps the program he was most proud of was the Divad gun system, a tank mounted weapon, for which he designed the ammunition feed system.
Dad retired in 1991 and found many hobbies to keep himself busy. He was a skilled woodworker and could fix darn near anything. I was fortunate to spend many hours with him in the garage at our home, learning how to rebuild motorcycle engines and the occasional VW. We probably spent more time underneath that old VW bug than inside it.
As Michelle put it, I was always amazed at the amount of energy and strength he possessed. When he was 74, he helped me do the finish grading on a 3500 square foot lawn…and was adamant that he should use the landscape rake instead of the Bobcat I rented to move the 40 yards of dirt we needed. Not surprisingly, it came out perfect, much the same as just about every project he took on.
Al died peacefully in the early morning hours of May 28, 2020, at the age of 83. He was survived by his wife, Lana, his daughter, Michelle and her husband, Brad, children, Isaac and Alyssa, his son, Chris, wife, Stephanie and children, Daniella, Riley and Dominic.
Dad, over the course of a lifetime, you have taught me what it means to be an honorable man, how to work hard, and do the very best you can (he said this to me just a few days before he passed away, just in case I needed a reminder). I will truly miss your company and the bond we had. I will see you when I get there-- Chris
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