Albert Henry Lilja, 87, wife of Gloria (DePasquale) Lilja, died Friday, April 22, 2011, after a brief illness at Beverly Hospital, surrounded by his family. Born in Maynard, February 27, 1924, son of the late Edward and Hanna (Macki) Lilja of Finland, he was raised and educated there. Albert worked in the shipping and receiving department of the former United Shoe Machinery Corporation until his retirement in the mid – 1980s. He went on to work part – time at St. John’s Preparatory School and at Sam & Joe’s Restaurant, both in Danvers. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and proudly served his country as a crew chief and as a staff sergeant in World War II. A member of the 439th Troop Carrier 94th Squadron, Mr. Lilja was stationed in France. When bandleader Glenn Miller’s plane was lost in 1944, his troop was instrumental in the search for the bandleader. In recognition for his service, Albert received the Air Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Good Conduct Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with seven service stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. An avid traveler, Albert and his wife attended several World War II reunions for his squadron over the years. While in Dallas, Texas, he had lunch with the late Lady Bird Johnson at her home. In June, 1994, when the couple traveled to Normandy for the 50th anniversary of D-Day, he received a commemoration medal for his service to the people of Sainte Mere Eglise, France for his personal commitment during the liberation of the province. Hobbies included coin collecting, talking about the war and aircraft, speaking in Finnish and enjoying a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with his friends. He was a devoted family man and cherished the time he spent with his young grandchildren.
In addition to his wife of 49 years, he is survived by two daughters Julie O’Leary and Kaarin Robinson; his son in law and friend, Dana Robinson, all of Beverly; and his grandchildren, Joshua O’Leary of Texas and Lilja Kady and Henry Dana Robinson both of Beverly. He is predeceased by his first wife, Teresa (Appoloni) Lilja and his brothers and sisters, Helen, Hugo, Andrew, Edwin and Kaarin Lilja.
A memorial service will be held at the Campbell – Lee, Moody, Russell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot Street, Beverly (North Beverly location) on Saturday, May 21 at 10 am. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Albert’s memory to the Disabled American Veterans, P. O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, Ohio 45250-0301. Information, directions, condolences at www.campbellfuneral.com
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