At 99 1/2 years old Albert (Al) Cyrus Jenkins embodied the best of the Greatest Generation. He served 33 months overseas in WWII, mostly stationed in New Guinea, as an aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Al was very proud of his service to his country, and at age 90 he wrote a memoir recounting his time in the service which is now in the archives of both the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, LA, and the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, TX.
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Al passed away on Sept. 6, 2020, at the RiverStone Hospice House. He was born on Feb. 22, 1921, to Albert T. and Mildred F. Jenkins in Holdenville, OK. He always enjoyed associating his birthday with George Washington, and the family celebrated it with a homemade cherry nut cake. As a young boy his family moved to Red Lodge, MT, for his father’s teaching job. Al thought fondly of Red Lodge where he made life-long friends. His family moved to Billings in 1939 where Al graduated from Billings High School.
Prior to the war Al worked as a milkman and furniture delivery man in Billings. His world changed the day he met a beautiful and kind young lady by the name of Ruby June Brown. They corresponded and got engaged during the war, and were married on Nov. 25, 1944, in Salt Lake City three days after Al returned from overseas. Theirs was a true love story from first sight; they enjoyed 69 years of marriage before Ruby passed away in 2013.
After his discharge from the Army, Al & Ruby returned to Billings and purchased stock in the New Method Shoe Store. Eventually the name was changed to Al’s Bootery, and the business expanded to include a Red Wing Shoe Store and Al’s Bootery West. After 38 years in business, they retired in 1983 and believed every day thereafter was a bonus.
Al was a mechanical genius, especially on antique Fords, and he was always willing to lend a hand to fellow car enthusiasts. He had served as president and was an honorary lifetime member of several car clubs including the Goggles & Dusters, Early Ford V8, Roaring 20’s, and Montana Pioneer & Classic Auto Club and was co-founder of the Billings All Original Car Show. Additionally, Al was a lifetime member of the Elks Club and Billings Rod & Gun Club having served on the gun club’s board of directors for decades. He was instrumental in the U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit that opened the Big Horn River access for public fishing.
Our dad was respected for his honesty, integrity and independent spirit, always doing things his way! He was a loyal friend, a family man, and a hard worker. He was most happy fishing, hunting, driving his “old Fords,” and traveling with his beloved Ruby.
Preceding him in death were his parents, Ruby, and his sister Wilma Henrickson. Al is survived by his four children & their spouses: Douglas (Mary Ann) Jenkins of Scottsdale, AZ; Phyllis (Scott) Galles of Billings, MT; Mary Lou (Mit) Parsons of Pine, CO; and Will Jenkins (Tim King) of Charlotte, NC. Al is also survived by four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Cremation has taken place, and a private family internment with military honors will be held at the Yellowstone National Cemetery at an undetermined date. Al’s family and friends can share commemorations at firstname.lastname@example.org. If anyone so desires, memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church, Friendship House or RiverStone Health Hospice in Billings.
The family would like to sincerely thank the RiverStone Health Hospice nurses for the outstanding care, compassion and kindness shown to our dad. Their services are appreciated beyond words.