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In Memoriam

Sterling Silver Alf - Class Of 1930

Sterling Silver Alf, son of Benjamin (1869-?) and Wilhelmina "Minnie" (Marquardt) (1873-1963) Alf, was born 9 November 1911 Westhope, Bottineau County, North Dakota.  Sterling's parents, Polish immigrants, married 10 October 1893, Saginaw County, Michigan.  The Alf's moved into North Dakota about 1900.  Sterling was the youngest child.


The Ward County Independent (Minot, North Dakota) Thursday 16 June 1910

Ben Alf, a Westhope man, got on a rampage and went after the female folks at the hotel with an ax.  He was arrested and placed under bond.

The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) Saturday 9 July 1910

The case of State vs. Ben Alf of Westhope, for caressing his wife with an ax, will also be up.  It is reported on good authority that Mrs. Alf resented the love taps of her spouse so strongly that it took two men to sew him together after the affair.  When he was mended she had him pinched for assault.  There is considerable interest in the case.



The 1920 Bottineau County, North Dakota US Federal Census enumerated Minnie as widowed, employed as a cook, with 5 children at home: Bertha, Martha. Ruby, Vernon and Sterling.  By 1924 Minnie had moved her family back to Michigan and was living in East Lansing, Ingham County.  On 1 April 1924 Minnie's son, Vernon, an 8th grader, was killed when he fell from a scaffold at the Union Building, Michigan Agricultural College, East Lansing.  He was interred Mt. Hope Cemetery, Lansing, Ingham County.



Minnie married Arthur H. Webster 18 December 1924, Okemos, Ingham County.  Arthur, 1872-1940, was the father who raised Sterling.  Sterling graduated in 1930 from Okemos High School and even while in school he was noted as an artist, working as a scene painter on school plays and productions. He was the designated cartoonist for the O.H.S. Record, the high school newspaper.

Sterling married Hazel Ardis Rogers 7 June 1935 Okemos.  He and Hazel lived in the Holt, Ingham County for decades.  Sterling became well known and easily recognized for his distinctive artistic abilities.  He completed a full wall mural in the "Old Brown Church" (later the Okemos Community Church) in 1938. 






Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan) 27 Feb 1977

Alf's sign is for the celebration of his sister-in-law's retirement (this explains the "inside" joke at the end of the article).  Gladys Rogers (Coulter) is a 1930 graduate from Okemos High School.  


Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan) 5 July 2015

Alf is renown for his recognizable and memorable signs and paintings, including the iconic sign on the west side of the Crystal Bar that reads, "Holt isn't big enough to have a town drunk so we all take turns."




This painting by Sterling Alf was reprinted in the Lansing State Journal, Sunday, July 5,2015










Sterling died 11 July 1995 Ingham County.  Hazel, born 11 May 1914, Canada, died 23 May 2008 Michigan.  Sterling and Hazel were interred Mt. Hope Cemetery, Lansing.

Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan) 13 July 1995



Age 83, died on July 11, 1995.  Born on November 9, 1911 in Westhope, ND.  He is survived by his wife, Hazel A  (Rogers) Alt; daughters, Connie Smith (Glen Roy) Caldwell of Holt, Angela A. (Benjamin C.) McLellan of Cadillac; step-sister, Lois Sunders; step-brother, Ralph (Betty) Webster; 6 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren.  A moment of meditation for family and friends will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, July 14, 1995 at Mt. Hope cemetery.