Alfred L. “Big Al” Wehrle
Big Al, of DeLand, died;he didn’t pass away, transition to the heavenly choir, although he liked to sing, or cross over the river Styx. He just died, peacefully, or at least it was thought to be peacefully, with a smile on his face, on April 14, 2020.
He was born on 26 September, 1933 in Thomaston, CT to the late Alfred K. And Erna P. Wehrle. He received a BS degree in Education from the University of Connecticut in 1956 and also played soccer and basketball for the Huskies. Well, he was on the teams but it is not certain just how much he actually played. He later earned a Master of Arts degree in Psychology and Counseling from Ball State University. In June, 1956 he received a commission in the U. S. Army which started a 26 year military career. He had many assignments including four company commands and several staff positions, both here and overseas. He served in Germany, Korea, Vietnam and several postings in the U.S. In 1972 he attended the Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Upon graduation he became a member of the faculty and taught there for the next four years. His last assignment was Professor of Military Science at Stetson University in DeLand. During that time he started Army ROTC programs at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Central Florida. Among his many service awards are the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Legion of Merit Medal. Upon his retirement from active service in July 1982, he was appointed to the position of University Registrar at Stetson and served in that capacity for the next 16 years before retiring in 1998.
Big Al was a member of the Rotary Club of DeLand for over 40 years. For 16 years he volunteered his time twice a week helping students in elementary school improve their reading and comprehension skills. In 2004 he received the DeLand Beacons' “Light of Literacy” award for his contributions in that area. He also served on the board of the DeLand YMCA for five years. He was a founding member of the men’s chorus, Great Expectations, which has been entertaining folks in West Volusia for over 30 years. He was also a member of the Barnstormers Men’s Chorus which performs throughout the northeast. He founded the Amsterdam Avenue Marching and Chowder Society, serving as president for many years, was a member of the Universal Church of Clyde, serving as sextant and Kapellmeister for the several years, and was director of the Big Al Invitational golf tournament, now the Big Al Memorial golf tournament.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Carolyn and is survived by his true love and companion for over 29 years, Betty Vernon. He is also survived by three daughters, Kelli, Billings, Montana; Royellen, Orlando, FL; and Karla, Fairfield, CT, seven grandchildren and a whole bunch of other relatives, a couple of whom he didn’t really care for.
He is known for his quiet charitable work and his wicked sense of humor. “In fact, he wrote this obituary.”
Although much delayed, it is finally time to Celebrate Big Al’s Life with a party. So if you loved Big Al too, please join us at Lankford Funeral Home in DeLand, on Saturday, May 14th, 2022 at 10:30 am. Be ready to sing, laugh and toast in memory of a life well lived!