It's not often a hearse is spotted outside a nightclub, but it was fitting for a lifetime Kansas Citian known as "Dancin' Al."
Albert Jean Crosthwait died last Wednesday surrounded by his children at Freeman Hospital in Joplin, MO. He was 88.
KCTV5 News first reported on Crosthwait in our series, Faces of Kansas City.
When the World War II veteran retired and lost his wife, Elizabeth Mary Hicks, of more than 50 years, he didn't stop doing what the two of them loved to do - dance.
His family states in his obituary, that after losing his true love, Crosthwait stepped out of his comfort zone and joined Kansas City's nightlife.
"He befriended many as he visited the clubs from Johnson County to the Power and Light District," his obit states.
One of his last wishes was to have his hearse swing by one of his favorite night clubs in Overland Park for his fellow partiers to pay respect.
Some of Crosthwait's family even came along.
"I'd come down several times a year from Chicago. He would pick me up from the airport, and we would go night clubbing," said Crosthwait's grandson, David Cannon Kinnard. "We would hit every single night club, close them down and go to the IHOP at 4 a.m. for pancakes. That was the kind of guy my grandfather was."
Crosthwait was born Oct. 31, 1925, to Albert Logan Crosthwait and Virginia Kegin McCaughey, in East St. Louis, IL.
During the Great Depression, his family moved to Kansas City, KS.
His parents owned People's Produce in KCK, and he started working there at age 12. Al attended Wyandotte High School until 1943, when he joined the United States Marines during World War II at age 17.
After the war, he graduated from Kansas City Junior College and went to work for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1946. He retired in 1986.
"He was a true example of a gentleman who lived life to the fullest and was joy personified. He practiced yoga for more than 50 years, loved dancing, worked tirelessly and smiled through every situation," his obit states.
Crosthwait loved traveling, his model railroad, woodworking and building family heirlooms.
His family said he wore a Marine hat proudly for years but shunned the title of hero as he would say "I'm no hero ... those fellas that didn't get to come home are the heroes."
For those that knew him, Crosthwait never met a stranger, loved people and enjoyed Kansas City's nightlife.
Crosthwait's family said he would have signed off this life as he would his emails for years, "remember, you should be dancing'! Semper Fi."
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Chapel Hill-Butler Funeral Home, 701 North 94th St., in KCK.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggest donations to the National World War I Museum.
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