NEW JERSEY – Albert R. Makatenas WWII Army veteran, Engelhard machinist and N.J. Senior Chess Champion, 94 Longtime Cranford, N.J., resident Albert Raymond Makatenas passed away peacefully on Saturday, August 26, 2017, at Spring Hills Assisted Living in Somerset, N.J.
Funeral services took place on Thursday, August 31 at Gleason Funeral Home, 1360 Hamilton St., Somerset. Final disposition was private.
Born in Elizabeth, N.J., an only child, Al was raised by his mother, Bertha, after his father, Anthony, died when Al was nine.
Al proudly served as a machinist in the U.S. Army during World War II, stationed in England and France. His 42-year career as an experimental machinist and toolmaker befitted his inherent attention to detail and precision. While Al held various positions at a number of companies, he was most proud of his work at Engelhard Minerals and Chemicals Corp.
After his family, which he cherished dearly, Al’s passion was playing chess. Beginning in high school, he continued until age 91. Upon retiring, Al developed into an avid tournament participant, and became the 2009 N.J. State Senior Chess Champion. He felt every child could improve his/ her problem- solving skills by learning the game.
In the 1970s, he and Thelma took on the charge of campaigning against smoking in public places, and were charter members of GASP, Group Against Smoking Pollution, continuing their membership into their 90s.
Al leaves behind his beloved wife of 70 years, Thelma; son and daughter-in-law, Neil and Mary Ann Makatenas; daughter and son-in-law, Sharon and Ken Szabo; granddaughters, Diane Szabo and Emily Buschmeier, and grandsons, Barret and Karl Makatenas.
Donations may be made to Dean of Chess Academy, 3322 Route 22 West, Branchburg, N.J. 08876. Please indicate that they are for the Albert Makatenas Scholarship Fund. Donations will make classes and camps available to students who otherwise would not have the means to attend.