Obituary: Alan Alpers

When Alan Alpers died on March 26, 2014, he left his family, the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert and the community of Ridgecrest suffering a profound sense of loss.

Although Alpers was still not quite 54 years old, he had packed a lot of accomplishments into his short life, notably including the establishment of two historical entities and full-time volunteerism on behalf of a third.

His funeral will be on Saturday, April 5, at 10 a.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, with a reception after the service at the Historic USO Building, surrounded by evidence of his many contributions — colorful, innovative exhibits and more innovations in the gift shop, which he ran and which featured unique local items created and collected by him.

Alpers was born on April 8, 1960, and spent his early childhood in the Corona area, where his father, Frederick C. Alpers was a noted missile innovator. The Alpers family moved to our valley in 1972, when Fred Alpers was transferred to China Lake, where he continued his essential contributions to national defense.

The younger Alpers attended James Monroe Junior High School and graduated from Burroughs High School in 1978.

After graduating from California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks, he was hired by the Protocol Office at China Lake. He rapidly made his mark there, becoming head of the Protocol Office in 1986, then moving into the Public Affairs Office. It was while he was in Public Affairs that Alpers played a central part in establishing and running a new exhibit center (now the China Lake Museum) in the former China Lake Officers’ Club.

Alpers became the Public Affairs Officer at China Lake. Then, after Point Mugu and China Lake merged, he became the Public Affairs Officer at Point Mugu — and while he was there, he successfully worked at developing a missile museum similar to China Lake’s. He remained active in Mugu’s Missile Technology Historical Association even after he left the Navy’s employ.

According to Andrew Sound, a close friend since high school days, Alpers’ first involvement with HSUMD was probably when the two friends entered the society’s Chili Cook-Off in 2008. “We took the prize for Most Innovative Chili (his recipe — he let me caramelize the onions),” said Sound.

Alpers moved back to our valley full time in 2010 and immediately got more deeply involved in HSUMD.

“He also operated the Bosco Hoofnagel Salsa Company for a while, selling Chayote Salsa and a Sweet Pepper Relish of his own invention that were both very popular when he was making them,” said Sound.

Alpers was an active board member of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce and was heavily involved in the city’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, among many other accomplishments.

He is survived by his mother, Elizabeth Anne Alpers, his sister Marilyn LeMieux and his brother Frederick George Alpers. He was preceded in death by his father, Frederick Christian Alpers.

Photo by Jay Chun

Story First Published: 2014-04-02