Alverne Nyhuis
Alverne Nyhuis
Alverne Nyhuis
Alverne Nyhuis
Alverne Nyhuis
Alverne Nyhuis

Obituary of Alverne Merlin Nyhuis


Alverne Merlin Nyhuis was born in Hull, Iowa, June 7, 1934, to John and Nellie Nyhuis. He spent the first 8 years of his life in Hull, near the farm of his Grandmother Maggie.

In November of 1942, his family made the long trek from NW Iowa to the Puyallup area, as his dad had a job building wooden hull mine sweepers for Tacoma Boat, a division of Kaisar Shipyards. After the war, his parents decided to remain in Western Washington, where his dad started a home construction business.

In Washington, Al attended Edgemont Grade school, Sumner Junior High, and graduated from Sumner High School in 1952. He worked as a “Bulb Digger Boss” for Orton’s Bulb Farms in Sumner. He enlisted in the US Air Force in November of 1956, and after basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, was stationed at Lowry AFB in Denver, Colorado, followed by a tour of duty at Kadena AFB, on the Island of Okinawa. While there, he accepted several temporary tours of duty, visiting Japan, Korea, and Iwo Jima. His last station was Langly AFB in Newport News, Virgina. He worked with tactical nuclear weapons.

Upon his discharge from the Air Force, he worked for Timberline Lumber Company as a lumber truck delivery driver. While there, he became life-long friends with Maurice Patterson, a fellow driver. Al and Maurice also shared a mutual interest in “hot rods” and auto racing. He and Maurice built Al’ s 1940 Ford Coupe, installing a 401 HP Ford Thunderbird engine in the basement garage of Maurice’s parents’ home. The garage was located directly under his parents’ bedroom. To escape the late night noise of hot-rod construction, Maurice’s dad built a detached garage where the ’40 Ford project was finally completed. The two friends also attended local drag races at Thun Field in Puyallup and Pacific Raceways in Kent. Small oval-track “stock-car” races were popular; such as Spanaway Speedway and Sea-Tac Motor Speedway on Highway 99. While attending a Saturday night event at Sea-Tac, Maurice introduced Al to his sister, Barbara.

Al and Barbara were married on March 20th, 1964, and recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They lived in Edgewood until 2001, when they “down-sized” to a mobile home park in Federal Way.

Al was employed by the US Postal Service, in Sumner Washington, starting first in December 1959 as “temporary Christmas help”, and then as a full-time postal clerk/letter carrier. He became assistant Post Master in Sumner, in July 1973 and retired as the Post Master of Orting, Washington, in August 1989.

Al’s “retirement job” was in the maintenance department of the Weyerhaeuser Company headquarters in Federal Way, Washington, from November 1990, until August 1998.

Al was a member of the Edgewood Community Church, serving in the offices of Deacon, Elder and Congregational Chairman. Since 2009, Al and Barbara attended Edgewood Church of Joy, formerly known as Jovita Baptist Church.

Volunteering was a prominent part of Al’s character. He fitted a cushioned front bumper to his Ford pick-up and enjoyed being a “push truck” driver at Spanaway Speedway, for midget race cars and other race cars not equipped with a starter. He was a colon-cancer survivor since 1983, and gratefully served as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society, providing transportation for patients to get to their doctors and chemotherapy appointments. Al also volunteered his time to make the Edgewood community safer by helping to identify dangerous sections of roadway and intersections, resulting in them being properly marked with reflective signs and warnings.

After retirement Al and Barbara volunteered with the Pierce County Sheriff Department at the Edgewood Police Department. They were named the Sheriff’s Department Volunteers of the year in 2012.

Al and Barbara enjoyed traveling and took many trips in a variety of “recreational vehicles”; from a home-built slide-in canopy to an Aluma-lite 5th wheel trailer.

Trips included traveling the Alaska-Canada Highway, multiple “snow-bird” trips to southern California and Arizona, and one coast to coast trip, not only to see the varied sights of the US, but stopping to visit friends and relatives along the way. Al loved to fish for salmon, so many trips were made to Sekiu, and to patronize the charter boats at Westport.

Throughout his life, Al had a beautiful tenor voice, and participated in many church choirs, as well as solos and duets with friends and often with his younger brother, Norm. While a member of the Postal Supervisors Association, he was a soloist at the National Convention in Portland, Oregon, in 1987.

Al passed from this life, to the loving presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus, on March 27th, 2024. Preceding him in death were his parents, John and Nellie, and his older brother, John, a Navy fighter pilot missing in action, in Korea, August 1950. He is survived by his wife Barbara, his brother Norm, and wife Sonya, brother-in-law, Maurice Patterson and his wife Lois, as well as four nieces and nephews. No public memorial service is planned.