St. Joseph School community mourns loss of beloved member

Alvin Ault, a gentle jokester who ‘always had a twinkle in his eye,’ killed in accident at his home near campus          

By Bill Brewer

Vickie and Alvin Ault enjoy a meal at St. Joseph School. The school is mourning the Aug. 25 death of Mr. Ault near the school.

The St. Joseph School community is mourning the loss of a valued member whose spirit and devotion to the school lifted students, faculty, and parents alike on a daily basis.

Alvin Ault’s tragic death on Aug. 25 was a blow that the school community, in addition to Mr. Ault’s family, is trying to come to terms with.

Mr. Ault was struck by a car as he was standing on the driveway in front of his home on Cedar Lane. He lived next door to the school with his wife, Vickie, who is on staff at St. Joseph.

A celebration of life service for Mr. Ault, who was 64, was held at Mynatt Funeral Home, Halls Chapel, on Aug. 29. A graveside service was held Aug. 30 at Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery.

Mr. Ault’s father-in-law, Harold Ellis, who is a Baptist pastor, preached at the funeral, saying of his son-in-law, “He preached his own funeral by the way he lived his life.”

While Mr. Ault’s wife and family attended the burial, St. Joseph students and teachers placed flowers and in large letters using plastic cups wrote the words “We Love You” on a fence between the school and the Ault home, which the Ault family immediately saw as they returned from the cemetery.

“We broke down and cried when we drove in and saw that sign when we returned from the burial. He (Mr. Ault) would never have let me take it down. We left it up as long as we could. It was beautiful,” Mrs. Ault said. “They are making sure to take care of me, and Alvin would be so happy about that.”

Mrs. Ault has been at the school since 1998, working on the custodial staff and also in the kitchen. Her husband joined her not long after, volunteering to help keep up the school grounds.

Mrs. Ault said they both fell in love with the school and its students, faculty, and parents.

“That is my family. Alvin and I think of St. Joseph as our family. The outpouring from this school has touched so many lives. It’s unreal,” she said.

She shared that it now is hard for her to see the St. Joseph community without crying.

St. Joseph School students and faculty place flowers and use plastic cups to make large letters that say “We Love You” in the fence between the school and the Ault family home.

“He loved those kids. He loved to make them laugh. He would play ball with them at recess,” she said, adding that the smaller children would give him hugs in the hallway. “He knew they loved him, but to show this much love is amazing. Words can’t describe it.”

The St. Joseph School community has reached out to Mrs. Ault and her family in various ways. The preacher at Mr. Ault’s celebration of life service expressed gratitude from the family to St. Joseph for its love and support at such a difficult time.

“I have gotten a card from each child at that school. They are so touching. I go through a few each day. They are so sweet. He would love them. They say, ‘I love you, Mr. Alvin.’ There isn’t a parent there who hasn’t called or texted or sent a donation. Father Chris (Michelson, St. Joseph president) and Andy (Zengel, St. Joseph principal) have come to see me, and that has meant so much,” Mrs. Ault said.

She said Father Michelson prayed with her and shared comforting Scripture.

And the St. Joseph community delivered food to the family immediately after Mr. Ault’s death.

“I can’t find the words to express how kind they’ve all been to me. I have never met people like them in my life. I knew they were kind and caring, but what they have done amazes me,” Mrs. Ault said.

Mr. Zengel said Mr. Ault’s death has been difficult for the entire school community to absorb.

“Alvin assisted our maintenance department and took great pride in making sure the grass looked good on the SJS campus. Alvin always had a twinkle in his eye and was fond of teasing our staff. He was a man of simple pleasures and loved the Vols, the Titans, and a cold Mountain Dew. To Alvin, everyone was a neighbor, and he didn’t have an ounce of malice in his heart. His wife, Vickie, who works in our cafeteria and maintenance departments, is surrounded by her family and is in need of our prayers and support. This is a tragic loss for our community. A truly good man has gone on before us,” said Mr. Zengel, who was a pallbearer at Mr. Ault’s funeral.

In Mr. Ault’s obituary, the Ault family expressed their appreciation for the expressions of support.

Older St. Joseph students lead younger classmates with flowers to decorate the fence.

“The family would like to give heartfelt gratitude to the St. Joseph School community for the many years of love, support, and friendship. Alvin was an incredibly special man who was loved by all that knew him. He enjoyed being outside, mowing and working in the yard. He played a large part in the St. Joseph School community and cherished everyone in it. Alvin loved spending time with family and adored his seven grandkids. If you knew Alvin, one of the first things you might say about him was how much of a prankster he was. He was always joking and making people smile. We will all miss his love for the simple things in life, his infectious laugh, and his huge heart. We are blessed to have had him while we did, and he is now in the arms of his Savior,” the Ault family wrote.

Mrs. Ault acknowledged that it will be difficult returning to work at St. Joseph without her husband. She remembers how much he liked being outdoors mowing and how he would help her with her after-school duties, carrying heavy loads and running cleaning machines. During summers, he would help out by doing painting at the school and refinishing tile floors.

Mr. and Mrs. Ault would have been married 46 years on Dec. 29.

“Alvin loved life. He didn’t have a worry or care in the world, unless it was getting the lawnmower fixed. He lived for that school. He always looked forward to Monday morning,” Mrs. Ault said. “It hurts me to go back without him.”

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