Gilbert K Alford
Founder of the Alford American Family Association
It is with a great sadness that the Alford American Family Association announces the passing of its founder, Gil Alford. Gil passed away peacefully last Tuesday night, August 20th with his family at his side. He will be greatly missed by all who have ever come in contact with him. He was a very unique gentleman. He will be interred in the Jefferson Barracks Cemetery after a very small private service per his wishes. There will be no funeral and no flowers please. Gil's obituary appeared in the Sunday, August 25 edition of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Although I never met Mr. Alford in person I was sad to receive the above message in my email Inbox. I corresponded with him when I was first researching my family’s Alfords. Gil was generous with his time. His letters and emails pointed me in the right direction to learn about my third great grandfather, Edwin Barksdale Alford, and his family. I became a member of the Alford American Family Association & subscribed to the newsletter. I am grateful to him and all he has done for many of us Alford cousins.
When Gil retired he looked for a hobby and it did not take long till he turned to genealogy.
In early 1982 my dear mother-in-law, the late Della Chapman Newkirk, was visiting with us and we were sitting around engaged in small talk when the subject of Mary's grandfather came up. I don't remember what prompted it because at that time I had no interest in family history and Mary had even less. Seriously, I did not even know the name of my great grandfather, and had never even wondered about him. Anyway, Mrs. Newkirk made the statement, "You'll never know any more about your grandfather John Newkirk because he was an orphan." Mary actually knew Grandpa John as he had lived with her family for some short periods of time over the years. The “you'll never" seemed to hit a trigger in me, and I decided upon the spot that I was going to learn more about John Newkirk. [AAFA #62, Fall 2003, page 4]
Soon Gil turned to Alfords as the focus of his research. About 1982 he began reaching out to Alfords and gathering information on the surname. He used Roots Cellar & The Genealogical Helper to connect with anyone with connections to the surname. His early research went into three ring binders on shelves in his basement.
According to the website:
The Alford American Family Association (AAFA), incorporated in 1987, grew out of the work of many "Alfords" around the country whose efforts were coordinated by Gilbert K. "Gil" Alford, Jr., compiler and publisher of an Alford family newsletter, "About Alfords." The AAFA has grown tremendously from the first years.
Yearly meetings, that began in 1988, bring together Alfords from many states. The meeting & National Alford Reunion are usually held on the second weekend of October. This year’s meeting will be in Raleigh, NC.
If you are an Alford and you visit the AAFA be sure to send a silent thanks to Mr. Gil Alford who looked for a hobby and found a huge family!