Albert J. Saunders, Jr., 78, of Covington, GA (formerly of Mason City) died Tuesday, May 25, 2010, at Abbey Hospice in Social Circle, GA. A Funeral Mass will be held 10:30 A.M. Friday, June 4, 2010 at St. Josephs Catholic Church, 302 5th St. S.E. with Msgr. Joseph J. Slepicka and Rev. Craig E. Steimel officiating. Interment will be held in the Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery. Visitation will be held 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. Thursday at Major Erickson Funeral Home, 111 N. Pennsylvania Ave. with a Scriptural Wake Service at 7:00 P.M. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the St. Josephs Catholic Church.
Al was born June 22, 1931 in Mason City, Iowa the son of Albert Sr. and Edna (McAlister) Saunders. He attended St. Josephs Catholic Grade School, Roosevelt Junior High and Mason City High School. He then attended Mason City Junior College, graduating in 1951. He then attended the University of Iowa for a year, until his enlistment in the U.S. Navy, while in the Navy he married Dorothy Osby and they proceeded to raise a family. After the service he returned to the University of Iowa for a short period of time. His experience in the Military strengthened his resolve to be treated equally. While at the University of Iowa, he walked into an Iowa City Barbershop for a haircut. Being refused service, he and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) successfully brought legal action. The owner of the Barbershop eventually went out of business. As a result of the incident and other similar ones, he found his environment somewhat difficult and decided to pursue his education elsewhere. He then met with the president of Parsons College in Fairfield, IA, told his life story and asked for another chance to earn a degree, it was granted and he graduated in 1960.
During the next thirty years he lived primarily in California and the Far East, working for the U.S. Department of Defense as a Security Professional at the Merrimac Naval Air Station in San Diego. He was transferred to the Long Beach Ship yard, Port of Long Beach. At this stage of his life, he became divorced and in subsequent years married Mary Lou Fruin. Shortly thereafter, Al Jr. was promoted and transferred to take charge of security at Subic Bay, Philippines Islands. Subsequent to the aforementioned assignment, Al Jr. was transferred to a Naval Base in Japan performing the same type of services. Al and Mary Lou eventually moved back to the states and retired from the U.S. Government. They settled in the Midwest and lived a short while in Missouri, Mason City, IA, and then Marble Rock, IA where he served as the towns first and Iowas first African-American Mayor in 1976. Because of his high level of self confidence and desire to accomplish, Al and Mary Lou then moved to Covington, GA where he and a business partner established an Insurance agency and at one time employed seventeen different Independent Insurance Agents and serviced small businesses and individuals with health and life benefits. He remained conscientiously engaged in his business until his demise. Al will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Al is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Saunders, daughters, Allanne Saunders and Rhonda Henry; sons, Robert, Errol, and Rodney Saunders; sister, Greta Lou Jeffries; brothers, Philip T. Saunders and Dr. Meredith R. Saunders; eight grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Edna M. and Albert J. Saunders Sr.; son, Vincent Saunders and brother, Roger A. Saunders.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the St. Josephs Catholic Church.
Interment will be held in the Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery.
Visitation will be held 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. Thursday at Major Erickson Funeral Home, 111 N. Pennsylvania Ave. with a Scriptural Wake Service at 7:00 P.M.
Funeral Mass will be held 10:30 A.M. Friday, June 4, 2010 at St. Josephs Catholic Church, 302 5th St. S.E. with Msgr. Joseph J. Slepicka and Rev. Craig E. Steimel officiating.