Methuen, MA — Joseph A. "Al" Thibodeau, Jr., 76, of Methuen, formerly of Lawrence, passed away comfortably on Sunday afternoon, May 25, 2014, at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, of respiratory failure after a short illness of lung cancer.
The son of the late Joseph A. "Fred" and Mary (Kerepka) Thibodeau, Sr., Al was born in Lawrence on Sept. 6, 1937. He was educated in Lawrence schools and was a graduate of Lawrence High School. Shortly after his graduation, he enlisted into the United States Air Force. Al's four years in the military earned him the status of flight engineer, while stationed in Japan during the Korean War. His courageous efforts piloting cargo aircraft saw him flying low under enemy radar using beaches as his runways to deliver essential supplies to our troops. In his youth, growing up in a family of many local farmers, he spent summer months working on farms, before returning to school in the fall.
When Al returned home from military service, he married Shirley, his devoted wife of 54 years. He became a lifetime commercial paperhanger for Northeastern Wallcoverings of Boston, where perfection was his goal. Al took on tasks that most others turned down and completed them perfectly. Al was well-known in the interior decorating profession. His daily routine consisted of morning coffee and noon lunch with his best friends, Emile, Bill and Andy at Larry's Service in Lawrence. In between, he would visit his friends, Jere and Marc, at Boles Memorial Funeral Home in Lawrence, eagerly waiting to assist in their busy daily maintenance schedule.
On weekends, Al enjoyed working with his son on their cars and scrounging parts at Tony's Auto Parts in Haverhill. Al was well-known for repairing just about anything that was broken. Later in the day, the family would get together for the Red Sox, Bruins and NASCAR, while cooking on the grill. Al's love of attending local auto racing events sparked an interest in the sport with his two sons. His sons wrote the Eagle-Tribune Auto Racing columns for 25 years, as well as contributing photography in Speedway Scene Newspaper, covering auto racing events on the entire East Coast.