January 30, 2013

E'town nonagenarian keeps on truckin'

'Al' Kurtz stays busy making deliveries for auto dealerships


---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — “He looks like he is 65.” 

That remark was made about Alfred “Al” Kurtz as the 92-year-old sauntered around the field during a recent Fish and Game Club meeting. The comment is typical for those who see the Elizabethtown man for the first time. 

Alfred purposely keeps himself busy, which tends to perpetuate his ability to stay active. He follows a routine most weekdays. 

“At 7 o’clock, I walk outside and get the paper and sit down with my morning coffee,” he said. “At 8:30, it’s time to go across the street to Adirondack Auto to get their mail and then (go) down the road to the Chevy place to get theirs. I then go to the Post Office to pick up their mail and also for some others that I then deliver to them. That keeps me busy for a while.” 

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Alfred hops into his pick-up truck to make deliveries for Adirondack Auto Service’s Chrysler and Chevy dealerships and occasionally for the local NAPA store. The deliveries may take him across the North Country: to Keene Valley, Jay, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake (where he may have five or more stops) or even as far as Lake Clear or Paul Smith’s. 

Alfred began working for George and Julie Huttig, owners of the Adirondack Auto Service’s dealerships, in 1997 at age 77, when most are well into their retirement years. A few years ago, Alfred was also making vehicle deliveries to and from different dealers more than 100 miles away.

Alfred requires minimal assistance while he works. If the packages are large and heavy, he allows others to put them on the truck and carry them off. He also has a running board on his pick-up truck for when he spryly grabs hold of the steering wheel and swings himself into the driver’s seat.

After he returns from his deliveries, it is time for chores around the house, which, according to the season, might include mowing or snow blowing.

“I don’t really know how he keeps going, but he manages,” his 82-year-old wife, Annabelle, said. “He’s the one who keeps me going. I have to try hard to keep up with him.”

Alfred has always felt comfortable behind the wheel.  

“At this point in our lives, I’m glad we got to do it,” Annabelle said of their travels around the country. “We would just get in the car and go somewhere. We would just get in the car and go places and not tell them (their adult daughters). It might take us a little longer to get there now. Now, a lot of our traveling has to do with our appointments.”

The nonagenarian has had a varied career. As a young man, he worked in a metal shop, primarily with copper tubing. 

“I was doing construction when the war (World War II) started. Then I joined the army and was with the 88th Division, which was in Africa and then Italy. After the war, I came home and then got married in 1948,” Alfred said.

He continued with construction and was employed by Herb Hildebrandt, who ran Elizabethtown Electrical Services. Among the projects they worked on were Lake Placid’s Howard Johnson’s and the Lake Placid Playhouse theater. For a number of years after, he worked in the maintenance department at the Horace Nye Nursing Home.

Mrs. Huttig is amazed by Alfred’s abilities. 

“He’s got boundless energy,” she said. “He’s just a joy to have around here. Al is very conscientious. He’s just a great inspiration for all of us around here, and he is a continuous source of a positive attitude.”

In his mid-80s, Alfred was experiencing problems with one of his knees, so he had it replaced and was off and running after that.

Alfred has no secrets for his longevity and good health. 

“I eat whatever I want. I have no special diet. I don’t eat much salt, though. When you live this long, it doesn’t really matter,” he chuckled. “I was having a little trouble this past fall, but I seem OK now. The doctor told me I will live to 100.”

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