Arnold Lindbergh Birch was born in Whitetail, Mont. on May 27, 1927, the seventh of Archie and Vera Birch’s ten children.
He passed away at his home in Oroville, on April 16, 2010.
He was known as Al by most and Lindy during his youth and later by many family members. Al was raised in a family of seven brothers and three sisters. In 1932 the family moved to Oroville. Life for the Birch family, as with many families during and after the Great Depression, was difficult. Most of the boys in the family were farmed out to other families that needed help, mostly on farms and ranches. As a youth he worked for ranches on the south end of Oroville, on Ellemeham Mountain and in Republic, mostly for the Allen family. He worked as Joe Allen’s right hand man until in 1945, when at the age of 17, he enlisted in the Navy. Al served as a welder at the Navy Yard Puget Sound in Bremerton, Wash., until Dec. 1949. In 1950 he enlisted in the Air Force and was promoted to Master Sergeant by the end of his military career. Al served on B-36s as a radio operator, flying many missions over most of Europe and North Africa. Upon B-52s replacing B-36s in the late 50’s he was retrained as a Boom Operator on the KC-135 refueling planes. Al was a Veteran of WW II, the Korean War and Vietnam and received commendations and medals.
On Sept. 10, 1955 he married Joyce Elaine Sloan. His career in the Air Force took the young couple to Puerto Rico where they welcomed their children: Dale and Diane. The family lived in Nebraska and Michigan before moving back to Washington. After his military retirement at Fairchild Air Force Base in 1966, the family moved to his hometown of Oroville.
Al worked as a furnace and air conditioning repair man for many years until slowly retiring but still fixing them for many people, most of the time with minimal or no charge. Al was an active member of the American Legion (Post Commander in the 1970s), 40/8 and Eagles and enjoyed a wide network of friends and family. Al and Joyce Birch loved being grandparents and helping raise Kyle and Kadi Buckmiller while their parents were at work or when Dale brought Kirsten and Katrina up from Bend, Ore.
Al and Joyce loved spending time at yard sales and dabbling in antiques. On any given Friday or Saturday morning you could find the couple toting grandchildren to any sale between Oroville and Omak. In the later years of his life, Al spent much of his time caring for his wife Joyce, while working around the house and tinkering on random lawn mowers.
Al is predeceased by his parents: Archie and Vera Birch; his wife, Joyce Birch; and his brothers: Glenn, Dwayne, Roy, Lyle and Gareth.
He is survived by his son, Dale Birch; and daughter, Diane Buckmiller (John Jones); his sisters: Vivian Emry, Doris Rairdan and Elinore Spanton; brother, Wayne (Linda) Birch; grandchildren: Kirsten (Robert) Ferring of Dallas, Ore., Kyle Buckmiller of Vancouver, Wash., Kadi Buckmiller of Spokane and Katrina Birch of Salem, Ore.; great granddaughters: Alyssa and Madelyn Ferring; Sisters-in-law: Claris O’Connor and Iola (Bill) Olsen; Brother-in-law, John (Phyllis) Sloan; former son-in-law, Mike Buckmiller; plus numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral Services were held on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 11 a.m. at the Bergh Chapel in Oroville with Walt Hart, the Oroville American Legion and Fairchild Air Base Personnel, officiating. Interment followed at the Oroville Riverview Cemetery.
Bergh Funeral Service of Oroville in care of arrangements.