Cedar Crest resident Al Kabor is a bit of a bon vivant! He has an outgoing personality, a creative streak, and many interests. Start up a conversation with Al, and you will soon find yourself charmed.
Al took up painting as a hobby after he retired from the Beloit Corp. where he was a mechanical engineer for 32 years. He prefers working with acrylics and oils, and his landscapes often were drawn from beautiful scenery he viewed from his travels. “I never sold anything. I didn’t do it for money. I was just happy to make beautiful pictures,” he said.
Although his occupation meant he was proficient on the drawing board, he also liked to sketch his co-workers during lunch breaks. His skills also allowed him to design the family’s tri-level home. Al recounted making trips to Beloit’s east side where new post-war housing was being developed and observing how contractors were putting the houses together.
After retirement, attending a painting class at what is now Beloit College developed his style. His enjoyment came from the shared creativity and camaraderie with class members. “I only painted when I was going to class,” he said. “We were just average people helping each other. It was very nice.”
When Al graduated from high school, World War II was in full swing, and like almost every young American at the time, he wanted to serve his country. The Navy was his first choice, influenced by an uncle who was in that branch of service. “I really liked their uniforms, too” he said, noting how snappy Frank Sinatra looked in the film, “Anchors Away.” But the military then gave inductees no choices on where to serve. Al was assigned to the Army where he volunteered to be a paratrooper. His military duties took him to Japan and the Philippines. “My guardian angel was looking out for me,” he said. “I’ve had a very lucky life.”
Al is a movie buff, as you might guess from the reference to the Sinatra film, and misses the reviews of the late Siskel and Ebert. When growing up, he loved the Andy Hardy movies; Errol Flynn was another favorite. He also likes to keep fit through exercise. He participated in Beloit Corp.’s health and lifestyle initiatives, walking to work and running on his lunch hour. After retirement, he was a regular at the Beloit YMCA, taking up swimming for the first time when he was 65 years old. He perfected the crawl and logged 2,870 miles of lap time at the pool. The Beloit Daily News wrote about his accomplishments when he reached the 2,500 mile mark. “I was hoping to get 3,000 miles,” he said. He misses swimming at the Beloit Y. Although he would like to resume his laps, he hasn’t found the right pool locally.
Dancing is another one of his passions, but not the “one-two-three” step. He is more of a “cut a rug” guy. He recalls that, back in the day, he was out dancing three or four nights a week at Chicago clubs. He also fondly recalls his 1941 canary yellow Ford convertible with maroon trim.
Al married his beloved late wife, Elsie, in 1950 after four years of dating. They met when he returned home from overseas, and both were waiting for a streetcar in Chicago. “My wife was a beautiful, intelligent, independent woman,” he said. “She was perfect.”
Elsie was brought up in Marion, Ill., and preferred small town living, so after the children were born, Alan sought job opportunities in Wisconsin. They moved to Beloit where they raised daughter, Dawn, and son, Keith. Al has one grandson and one great-grandson.
“I’ve had an interesting life,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of help from ‘upstairs.’”