A good and gentle man has left us.
Al Prato passed away at the age of 86 in the early morning hours of Jan. 31, at Island Hospital where he was being treated for a lung infection. He was born in Seattle to Albert E Prato Sr. and Augusta Ozar Prato.
He spent his early years growing up in the South Park neighborhood. When he was 10, the family moved to Chehalis where he graduated from High School in 1949. Or at least the remains of the high school, which had been made unusable by an earthquake, forcing final classes of the year into other buildings in town.
He attended Centralia College for a time before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. He had tours of duty in various places of the United States, plus a year at Dhahran Air Force Base in Saudi Arabia. This duty station allowed him to visit Jerusalem, Lebanon and Libya.
He returned to Centralia College, changed his major from business to education, got his AA degree and transferred to what is now Western Washington University. It was there that he began the two great loves of his life — his family and the profession of teaching. He and Carol Jensen of South Whidbey were married their senior year.
Al spent three years teaching in Cosmopolis and their first two children were born in Aberdeen. The young family moved to Oak Harbor in 1961, where he was among those hired to open the new Crescent Harbor Elementary School. Of course, the school wasn’t ready, so the students and staff were sent to assorted places in other buildings.
He was assigned the gym at Clover Valley Elementary, which he shared with the reading teacher, the beginning band program and — for a few days — a jack hammer as maintenance worked on the in-floor heating system.
He finished his 31-year teaching career at Olympic View Elementary and was “Mr. Prato” to hundreds of elementary students, a title he was very proud of. He believed he had the best job in the world. Students, friends, family and co-workers remember his practical jokes, good humor and the ability to make people feel at ease.
Al is survived by his wife of 58 years, Carol; son Scott (Lora) of Aberdeen; daughters Andra (Brian) Shelly of Oak Harbor and Lisa (Andy) Davis of South Whidbey; and son-in-law Bob Sevy of Springfield, Mo. He was Grandpa to 10 grandchildren and Grandpa Prato to 11 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his oldest daughter, Karen Sevy of Springfield.
Away from school, Al enjoyed being outdoors. In his younger years, he could often be found bird hunting with his son and favorite dog, Duchess. Fishing, crabbing and gardening were other favorites. He also enjoyed working with wood.
He and Carol were able to travel in their retirement years. Trips to Europe, Arizona for spring training, camping trips to Alaska and elsewhere were among some of their adventures. They also cherished being able to continue lifelong friendships begun in that first year in Oak Harbor.
The family invites you to join them in a celebration of Al’s life on from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at the family home, 1680 NE 11th Ave., Oak Harbor, WA 98277.
Arrangements were entrusted to Wallin Funeral Home. To leave condolences or share memories, please visit the funeral home website at www.wallinfuneralhome.com