Alan had many interests over the years, but was passionate about three things in particular, his wife, Mary, the outdoors, and flying airplanes.
Alan and Mary met at a dance in northern Maine and they danced together for 62 years of marriage. Their dinner table was always a lively place for children, then grandchildren and now great-grandchildren.
Growing up in the woods of northern New Mexico he had a love of the outdoors. Every year he brought meat to the table from animals that he had taken. He had superb eyesight and exceptional shooting skills even into his 80s.
Alan loved flying. He once mentioned that he owned 26 airplanes, many of them that he built or restored from a basketful of parts. His first airplane was purchased when he was still in the service. The fellow took him around the field once, then hopped out after landing, engine still running, and said, “It’s yours”. He would fly that plane to visit Mary and cracked it up when landing in a potato field.
Alan was born Feb 17, 1932 in the back seat of a car near Taos, N.M. to Roscoe and Olive Netz. The family moved to Los Alamos, N.M., where Alan attended Los Alamos High School. He and two friends dropped out of school to seek adventure in the Northwest and later he joined the US Air Force. While stationed in Maine he met and married Mary McLellan and they returned to New Mexico to raise a family.
He worked at the Sandia National Laboratory as a mathematician, computer programmer and metallurgy technician until his retirement in 1987. After traveling the country in their motor home they found a new home in Thompson Falls. Here he served for several years as the volunteer airport manager.
It is difficult to describe in a few paragraphs the life of this extraordinary man. Pick a subject and it is likely that Alan had a project related to it. He found a fascination with clocks and soon the kitchen table was covered with balance wheels and escapement movements. Later he built clocks in his garage, including a grandmother clock that still chimes the quarter hour in their home. He built airplanes, boats and even an amphibious plane, at home in both the air and water.
As a carpenter, he built cabins in the bottom of Chama Canyon, additions to his homes and cabinets for his daughter’s home. As a mason, he built a rock wall around a fireplace in his home. As a mechanic, he rebuilt engines and put together project cars. He raised horses, cows, and chickens and even performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a premature goat.
He was preceded in death by his father, mother, brother, son and grandson. He leaves behind his wife, Mary; sister Jeanelle Schultz and husband Bill of Española, N.M.; his children, Dana Netz and wife Lydia of Jemez Springs N.M., Duane Netz and MaryBeth of Villa Grove, Colo., Anne Denton and husband Grant of Troy; five granddaughters, seven great-grandchildren and many, many friends throughout the United States.
A memorial service will be held Friday, April 24 at the Elks Lodge in Thompson Falls at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Memorial Tree Fund for Alan Netz at the First Security Bank of Thompson Falls.