Al Gensheimer, 85, of Sulphur, La., passed away on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 in the comfort of his own home surrounded by family and friends after a long battle to Press On!
Al was born in Flint, Mich. On his life’s journey he became an honorary Cajun as he fell in love with everything Southern. Playing football (which gave him his nickname) and graduating from St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, with a B.A. in economics and business Administration he tried the electrician field but advertising and newspaper publishing called.
He started out at Yankee Department Stores in Detroit, Mich., headed to Panex Corporation Newspaper Groups in Lansing, Mich., and on to Cleveland, Ohio, for the Cortland Corp. holding positions of VP, president and general manager of major businesses. In 1974 he was called professionally to New Orleans. Al took over operations of The Guide Newspapers in New Orleans. After one year, Governor Edwin Edwards decided a “damyankee” was going to be the secretary-treasurer of the Superdome Commission. One of Al’s proudest moments!
During his love of all things New Orleans, in 1979 he left with General Erbon, wise to make Sulphur his home. They became partners and best friends. They bought, grew and sold many newspapers together with integrity and determination. The Southwest Daily News was their baby. Al, from the beginning of his career, was active in the communities he served by being on boards, chambers of commerce, chairmanships, rotary clubs. … The best friends sold and retired in 1999.
Al’s perfect retirement was a log cabin on a river which led us to Parlin, Colo. We lived and loved the summers there making the best of friends in Gunnison, Colo., working the 24 acres, trout fishing, golfing and cooking. Al’s ribs and salmon on the grill made his famous! His Christmas cheese ball made the holidays complete. Estes Park, Colo., was an earlier love where he witnessed the Big Thompson Canyon flood. When Hurricane Rita came to Sulphur the “damyankee” said no more. We moved to the Hill Country in Burnet, Texas and made many long-time friends. Moving back to Sulphur 10 years later we turned to old friendships that never waned.
Al’s love for his children never waned. His pride in them was embarrassing to the point of braggadocious. They are their father’s children in every aspect of success. It’s a Gensheimer thing! If you ever met Al, know, his interest in you was sincere. His loyalty to you was never ending. His appreciation was true. Al also loved golf, cigars, Stoli on the rocks, reading murder mysteries, gambling with smart gamblers, grilling, complaining about my driving, dozens of raw oysters at a time, “THE” Western channel and all things sports. Al loved life!
Al is survived by his best friend and wife Lisa of 23 years; his brother, John (Nancy); five children; 16 grandchildren; and 10 greats (can’t keep up!). Also, the friends and businesspeople he knew were there for him all these years. So many! He was preceded by his parents; four siblings; and one son.
Special thanks to so many who helped us through. Melinda and Geneva of Brighton Bridge Hospice are angels in the outfield! Thank you all!
Al’s service will be a celebration in Gunnison, Colo., at Dos Rios Golf Course when restrictions are lifted due to COVID-19. Cremation was entrusted to Hixson-Sulphur Memorial Funeral Home in Sulphur, La.
Words or memories may be shared with the family at hixonsulphurmemorial.com for the Gensheimer family.
An Ode to my Big Al: “What is dying?” by Henry Van Dyke
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads his white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. An object of beauty and strength, he sails into the distance, diminishing in size, until he hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky mingle. Then, someone says; "There! He’s gone!" "Gone where?" Gone from my sight — that’s all.
He is just as large in mast and hull and spar as he was when he left my side. And he is just as able to bear his load of living freight to the place of his destination. But his diminished size is in me. Not in him. And just at the moment when someone says, "There, he’s gone!" There are other eyes watching. Watching him coming home and other voices ready to take up the glad shout; "Here he comes!" And that is dying. Let us all Press On!