Serving Whitman County since 1877

Alexander "Al" Lazarus Birch

April 9, 1924 - Nov. 4, 2022

Birch, Alexander Lazarus "Al" age 98 of Spokane, entered into rest on November 4th, 2022 surrounded by loved ones. Born in Parkland, WA to Burgess and Ruth Birch on April 9th, 1924, he attended school in Parkland, working summers in the berry patches. Al had a spirit for adventure and hitchhiked across the country to visit his brother in Baltimore. He kept notes of his travels and the people he met. He loved making new friends. He also loved to watch the airplanes take off and land at the airways near Parkland.

Mr. Birch met his sweetheart, Pauline Hodgson, through the Lonely Hearts Penpal Club and moved to her hometown of Thornton, WA. They married in 1951 and moved together to Spokane. Al and Pauline purchased a home on Maple Street where they had their only daughter Teresa in 1954. Al made his career as a mail handler and worked for USPS until his retirement in 1980.

Al was passionate about amateur shortwave radio and being helpful to others. On one occasion he caught a broadcast on his radio from Africa. He heard the man talking about his daughter that lived in Spokane. Since long distance calling was expensive, Al offered to phone his daughter and patch the call through. It was a success! A few years later, they came to visit Al at his home in Spokane to say thank you.

Al was known for his impeccable memory, his collection of dad jokes and making home movies to tell his stories. Some of these stories were documented and premiered at Terrain 2018, an art exhibition. You can see this short film here:

Al was a simple man who didn't need much. He liked to enter contests and play lotto. When asked what he would do if he won the lottery, he replied that he would rent a hotel... "to house everyone that didn't have a home." And that he would give money to a dentist - "because you can always trust a dentist - and no one should ever feel that kind of pain."

The world has lost a bright shining light. The contributions Al made enriched countless people's lives and he will be remembered fondly. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Pauline Birch and his granddaughter, Melinda Hurt as well as many close friends and extended family. If you would like to send a bereavement gift, please consider donations in his name to Spokane Humane Society. Al believed in their mission and in protecting the welfare of animals. A celebration of his life will be held in the Spring. If you would like details about the celebration, please email


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