Alfred Klages of Seaford, who held many jobs over his lifetime, including as an NYPD officer who helped deliver 13 babies, has died.
Klages died of cancer May 9 at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, just five weeks after tumors were detected on his spine, according to his daughter, Christine Fitzgerald, 54, of Nesconset. He was 89.
Born in Brooklyn on Sept. 6, 1928, Klages in his younger years worked for his family bakery in Ridgewood, Queens, and later as a brewmaster at Rheingold Brewery in Bushwick, Brooklyn. He then served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper in the years after World War II.
He went on to the NYPD in 1954, working as an “E-Man” in the department’s Emergency Service Unit. Klages married his wife, Joan, now 84, in September 1961 in Woodhaven, Queens.
He rarely spoke about his workday, but his daughter later learned that he helped bring 13 babies into the world, occasionally talked suicidal people down from the Brooklyn Bridge, and was once commended for taking down a butcher knife-wielding suspect.
“Cops didn’t come home and talk about their work,” Fitzgerald said. “He did some crazy, harrowing things.”
He was cool and collected during an emergency, she recalled, and once rescued her from an overturned car after a crash.
His police work was a lifelong source of pride and he handed out Police Benevolent Association cards long after his 1981 retirement, his daughter said. A social butterfly, he kept in close contact with his fellow officers. Among them was a partner of only one year, 1970: Fred Bazzini, who attended Klages’ funeral at Fives Smithtown Funeral Home in Smithtown on May 14. Burial was at Pinelawn Memorial Park the same day.
After leaving the NYPD, he worked as a driver for the U.S. Postal Service from 1982 to 1992. Later he also worked as a physical trainer at World Gym in Wantagh for 17 years, a role that netted him a lifetime membership there. He went to the gym until age 83, mostly to use the sauna and socialize.
“He was a man not afraid to work,” Fitzgerald said.
Known to many as “Big Al,” he loved hunting, fishing and supporting charities and belonged to several police organizations, such as the 10-13 Club. He also prided himself on staying informed and would read through three newspapers every morning, including Newsday. His children tucked a copy of the paper into his coffin.
In addition to his daughter and wife, he is survived by a son, Kurt Klages, 49, of Fiskdale, Massachusetts, and grandchildren Kristian Klages, Matthew Klages, Colin Fitzgerald and Alana Fitzgerald.