Alice's Story

Alice Hehl was the fourth child of Winifred and Arthur Hehl, born February 28, 1925, in Portsmouth, Ohio. She loved being part of a large family with 10 brothers and sisters: Bill, Ralph, Poke, Jeanne, Pat, Jack, Lou, Sue, Jimmy, and Jerry.

Growing up during the Depression, Alice started working as a shop clerk at 16 to help her family. When World War II began, she was anxious to sign up and do her part. Ultimately, the Navy realized she was too young and gave her an honorable discharge. 

She started working at Wright Field (later Wright-Patterson AFB), where she met the love of her life, James Ernest Trnka. They married in December 1944.

Alice and James welcomed their first child, Agnes Louise (Jaymie), in September 1945 just a month after the war ended. Alice was happy her first child was born in peace time. Sandra Kay, Kathleen, Sharon Lee, Terry Rose, Janet Marie, and Lisa Joye all added to the family.

Shortly after Jim’s death in 1956, Alice worked for Antioch College where she met many interesting authors and artists. She especially enjoyed meeting Dr. Benjamin Spock because she swore by his innovative child rearing advice.

In February 1968, Alice lost her oldest daughter, Jaymie, and two grandsons to a devastating house fire. They were loved and are greatly missed.

For most of her career, Alice worked for the Air Force’s Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories, during the exciting times of the space race and moon landings. She worked with many of the astronauts and space scientists. She counted the aerospace nursing pioneer, Pearl Tucker, as a very dear friend.

Alice loved sewing, bargain hunting, and traveling and never passed a garage sale. She enjoyed having a small antique and vintage goods kiosk after retirement. Having a bi-coastal family, Alice often traveled along the West Coast, counting her cruise to Alaska as a highlight of her retirement.

Alice will live on through her 14 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren, and 5 great great grandchildren. And through the many friends who called her Mom or Grandma because they loved her, too.

Alice had a special place in her heart for her in-laws: brothers, sisters, and sons and loved her many nieces and nephews. She enjoyed being part of a huge family and celebrating births, graduations, weddings, and enormous family reunions.

Through bad times and good times, Alice lived a full life right to the end. She will long be remembered and loved.