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Albert Jeffers, stood studs with wife Mary Lea, dies

August 20, 2013

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Albert L. Jeffers, 88, a noted philanthropist, horse breeder and retired attorney, died Aug. 10, 2013, in McAllen, Texas, after a long illness.

Mr. Jeffers was born Feb. 12, 1925, in Duff, Ind. He attended school in Huntingburg and graduated from Bosse High School in Evansville. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943-1946, earning his Dolphins, traveled through the Panama Canal on the sub tender Pelias, joined the crew of the Threadfin on Midway, and served in the last major naval battle of World War II on April 5, 1945. He finished as a crew member of the Menhaden, where he was selected as the enlisted man to welcome Admiral Nimitz aboard when he resigned his position as commander of the South Pacific.

Mr. Jeffers married Mary Lea Miles on June 6, 1948 in Evansville, graduated from the University of Evansville in 1949 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Technology, and graduated from George Washington University Law School with a JD in 1952.

He began his legal career working for Bowser, Inc. in Fort Wayne as their in-house patent attorney. He was the founding and senior partner of Jeffers, Hoffman, and Niewyk, a law firm in Fort Wayne,specializing in intellectual property law. He was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, and tried several cases there.

Starting with six Standardbred race horses inherited by his wife, he built a state and nationally recognized horse breeding farm (Mary Lea Jeffers Farm) in Flat Rock, Ill., noted for its fast trotters and pacers. Mr. Jeffers was the owner of High Falls, Party At Artsplace and New Balance, all standing at Mary Lea Jeffers Farm. The farm was the recipient of the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association's 2012 County Fair Breeder of the Year Award and the 2012 County Fair Owner of the Year Award.

Mr. Jefferswas a member of the American Bar Association, Indiana Bar Association, Allen County Bar Association, United States Trotting Association, Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, Farm Bureau Association, Fort Wayne Rotary, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and a trustee of the University of Evansville since 1965.

He was also a member of Christ United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne and First United Methodist Church in McAllen, Texas, a member and former president of Club Olympia in Fort Wayne and a member of the Fort Wayne Country Club and the McAllen Country Club. He belonged to the American Legion, the U.S. Submarine Veterans of WWII, and served as Republican Precinct Committeeman in Fort Wayne during the 1960s and 1970s.

After retirement in 1990, Mr. Jeffers began spending part of each year as a winter Texan in McAllen. He became a friend of the University of Texas Pan-American, donating at that time the largest gift ever given by an individual to the university. The Albert L. Jeffers Theater was named in his honor.

A philanthropist by nature, Mr. Jeffers made a gift of his childhood farm in Indiana as a nature preserve to the people of Huntingburg. He believed in the power of education to solve many of society's ills and made large gifts to his alma mater, the University of Evansville, as well as sponsoring numerous scholarships for students.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Lea; daughter, Adele Jeffers (Paul) Everett; grandsons, Joel(Lane) Everett and Isaac (Katie) Everett; great-grandsons, Miles Everett and Nathan Everett; and nephews, Gary and Robert. He was preceded in death by his parents, Daniel and Martha Belle Jeffers; brothers, John and Gerald; sister-in-law, Wilma; and cousiin, Dr. Wallace Duncan.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday (Aug. 24) at the Nass & Son Funeral Home, 208 N. Main Street, Huntingburg, IN, with burial to follow at Fairmount Cemetery in Huntingburg. The VFW Post #2366 Memorial Detail will conduct military graveside rites. The Rev. Ken Harrison and Isaac Everett will officiate the services.

Friends may call for visitation at the Nass & Son Funeral Home in Huntingburg from 3-7 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 23). Condolences and expressions of sympathy may be shared online at http://www.nassandson.com/.

Memorial contributionsmay be made to the Jeffers Nature Preserve, c/o Huntingburg Foundation, 309 N. Geiger Street, Huntingburg, IN 47542; University of Evansville, 1800 Lincoln Avenue, Evansville, IN 47714; University of Texas Pan-American Foundation, 1201 West University, Edinburg, TX 78540; or to the First United Methodist Church of McAllen, 4200 N. McColl Road, McAllen, TX 78504.

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