In Memoriam: Alwin J. “Rusty” Girdner

Dad Farewell pic

We recently lost a friend and colleague, Alwin J. “Rusty” Girdner, author of Diné Tah: My Reservation Days 1923–1939.

Born in Albuquerque, NM, in 1923, Alwin was nicknamed “Rusty” for his wavy red hair. He grew up on the Navajo Reservation with his parents who served as missionaries, and became immersed in the language and the culture. After leaving Diné Tah in 1939, he traveled all over the world, to more than 114 countries. He served at the Naval Air Station in Pearl Harbor during World War II, and graduated with a BS in Business Administration and a Masters of Art from the University of Arizona. He married Marjorie Wilson in 1946 and they raised four children. They were married 59 years when she passed away in 2005. Rusty had a leadership role in the credit union movement for 30 years before retiring in Tucson.

rustyBedtime stories Rusty would tell to his children about his days on the Navajo Reservation became the basis for his book, which won the Evans Handcart Award in Literature in 2011.

Rusty died April 15, 2015, and is survived by four children, eight grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. He will be missed by all of his friends and family.

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