BOURBONNAIS — Bruce Alan Albers, 76, of Bourbonnais, passed away Thursday (Oct. 8, 2020) at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, after successful heart valve replacement surgery.
A memorial visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at Clancy-Gernon Funeral Home, Bourbonnais.
Please wear a mask and practice social distancing guidelines at the visitation.
Memorials may be made to Southwest Harbor Historical Society (SWHHS), Southwest Harbor, Maine, which Bruce and Brenda have greatly supported over the years. They helped with the purchase of the closed Manset Union Church, built 1830, which is being transformed into a museum for SWHHS.
Bruce was born Jan. 28, 1944, in Kankakee, the second child of Clyde and Geraldine “Gerry” (Wegner) Albers. He married Brenda Coombs on April 30, 1965, at Wesley United Methodist Church in Bradley.
Bruce’s fascination with how things work started early in life, as when he was 9 years old, he took his mother’s mantel clock apart while she was gone. When she came home, she told him to put it back together and make sure it worked – it did! By the time he was 12, his work ethic was established when he and his brother mowed 12 yards every week and also worked at the family’s concession stands in Bird Park.
When Bruce was 13, his dad started his first gas station at the corner of Maple and Orchard streets in Kankakee. As soon as he was out of school for the day, Bruce would ride his bike to the gas station to help his dad – this was the start of his life-long fascination with cars and engines. When his dad moved to a new Baron-Huot Oil Company gas station at 1063 E. River St. in Kankakee, Bruce became a mechanic for his dad.
For about 10 years, Bruce had his own drag racing car – first a ’55 Chevy, followed by a ’69 Nova – both named “Skedaddle.” The line between Bruce’s profession and his hobby blurred, as he truly enjoyed cars, engines and racing.
Bruce decided to build a new automotive repair/machine shop when his dad decided to retire in 1983. Thus, Albers Automotive at 601 W. Jeffery St., Kankakee, was established in 1984. The original building had three additions as Bruce’s machine shop continued to expand as his reputation for building high-performance engines for stock cars, drag racing and street rods grew. Bruce always loved the challenge of getting more horsepower from an engine that still met the specs for the class of racing.
He served a three-year term on the Board of Directors of AERA Engine Rebuilders Association in the late 1990s. The nomination to this national board was an honor he was proud of.
In 2013, Bruce closed Albers Automotive and continued to work solo on select racing/street rod engines. In July 2018, he sold the shop to Damian Begler and since has been helping at the shop half days until the Friday prior to his surgery.
As much as Bruce enjoyed his professional life, he thoroughly liked his personal life of meeting at 6 a.m. every Saturday with his “breakfast club” and the weekly Blitz card games with his friends. Of course, if you were a friend of Bruce, you knew to “watch your back” since he was a master of practical jokes with firecrackers and rubber snakes, followed by his hearty laugh. Many of his close friends knew that Bruce’s home hobby was tending the gardens of hundreds of hostas and keeping his lawn manicured.
Surviving are his wife, Brenda; older brother, Daryle (Marlene) Albers, of Kankakee; younger sister, Linda (Mike) Longtin, of Dixon; youngest sister, Wendy (Jerry) Schrempf, of Kankakee; many nieces and nephews; and numerous good friends. His nightly lap kitty, Sofia, truly misses him.
Inurnment will be at a later date in Mt. Height Cemetery in Southwest Harbor, Maine, where Bruce and Brenda have their cemetery lots and headstone in place.
Please sign his online guestbook at clancygernon.com.