Alan Roland North of Van Horn, Texas, formerly of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, passed away suddenly on February 3rd, 2021. He was 73.
Alan was born in the year 1947 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, to parents Frieda Anna Rheinhardt and Thomas Roland North. He grew up poor in the rural community of Kareedouw outside of Port Elizabeth and would often regale others with stories from that time: like the time he stole apricots from a tree for his grandmother or his times riding to play rugby games in the back of a lorry. From a young age, Alan was enraptured by old westerns and movies about the American West and made it his dream to move to the United States and become a citizen. Alan was a mechanic by trade but also spent some time stoking a coal-fired train, a job that engendered a lifelong love of steam trains.
Later in life, after some time spent living in Australia, he returned to South Africa and, having grown weary of his country of birth, recommitted himself to fulfilling his lifelong dream of living in “the land of the free.” Though many were incredulous that he would make it, his Auntie May and Uncle Sonny, who had become like second parents to him after he had lost his own earlier in life, encouraged him on. After some time saving up, Alan bought his ticket and made his way to New York City. Roaming, having no settled home, he eventually connected with a childhood friend that had made the move before him. That friend eventually helped him enroll in the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas. It was during his time at Sunset that he met the love of his life, Janelle.
Deeply in love, Alan left his studies to marry Janelle and settle down, eventually opening up a mechanic shop in her home town of Van Horn. Alan became the stepfather to Janelle’s son Clint, and they all later welcomed another boy, Devin, into the world; Alan always maintained that any children he had would be born in the U.S.A. He later earned his CDL and became an over the road truck driver, driving all across the country he loved so much. Eventually, he became a fuel transport driver for Pilot, and later worked as an independent hot-shot driver before his retirement.
Though his life may have at times been fraught and difficult, he fulfilled his dream of becoming a citizen and later encouraged two of his brothers and their families to move to the U.S. as well. Alan loved gardening, especially flowers, and could often be found on a weekend perusing the aisles of a Lowe’s or Home Depot on the east side of El Paso, searching for his newest batch of seeds and bulbs. He loved the sea and dreamed of someday retiring near the ocean so that he could fish and in some way reconnect with a life he had left long ago. Though Van Horn didn’t fulfill his love for the sea, it provided a family and a community of people whose kindness and care has sprung forth at various times in his life and now, again, in the time of his loss. His faith having never wavered, Alan now rests on God’s celestial shore, with a boundless ocean more beautiful than any Earthly waters. A complex man, an intellectual thinker, talkative and honest, even to a fault, and genuinely compassionate, Alan was a true individual; there will never be anyone quite like him.
He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Janelle North of Van Horn, Texas; son and his spouse, Devin North and Victoria Porras; stepson and his spouse, Clint and Nicole Gregory; brothers and their spouses Brian North, Clyde North, Derek and Erica North, and Thomas and Alexandra North.
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