If it was murder and it was 1960s Minneapolis, chances were that Aloysius E. Pufahl was looking into it. A homicide detective in those years who went on to become deputy chief of the Police Department, Pufahl spent 42 years on the force in a career that began with foot patrols of Hennepin and Washington Avenues.
Born in St. Cloud, Pufahl moved to Minneapolis at a young age and lived most of his life in a rambler that he and his wife, Marlyn, bought in the Keewaydin neighborhood. It's where they raised three sons together, and where Pufahl died on Feb. 22, surrounded by family. He was 78.
Pufahl showed an interest in leadership and community events while still a student at the old South High School at 2445 Cedar Av. S., the site of today's Little Earth housing complex. He was homecoming king of his 1950 class, and years later he helped organize reunions, including the recently held 60th.
"He was a poster child for Minneapolis, for staying loyal to a community," said Carol Kummer, a city Park and Recreation Board commissioner who knew Pufahl from city politics and through their shared neighborhood.
Pufahl served in the Army during the Korean War, rising to the rank of master sergeant, then returned to attend the University of Minnesota. Upon graduation, he joined the Minneapolis Police Department.
He rose to captain and took on administrative assignments but never lost his connection with the patrol officers. He was known as "Captain Al, the patrolman's pal."
Neighbors appreciated him, too, said son Todd, who recalled a night when a neighbor got into trouble at a nearby bar. The man drove straight to Pufahl's house and pulled into the driveway to escape whoever was chasing him.
Pufahl bought land near Annandale, Minn., and the family built a lake cabin there. It was where Pufahl would go to get away. Todd Pufahl said he grew to appreciate his dad's frugality. It meant that they did their own construction when they wanted to expand the family lake compound, but it also meant that Pufahl died with three properties and no mortgages.
"Many of you will remember my dad's fondness for Dadson's, Sears Outlet Store, Kaplan Brothers, Otto's Liquor Store and their modestly priced Pfeiffer bottled beer!" Todd joked in his speech at his father's funeral.
His dad's other lessons: make time for your family, volunteer and rise through the ranks.
Pufahl chose to die at home after cancer treatments failed.
"The only good part about it is you have the opportunity to say what you wanted to say to each other," said Todd Pufahl.
Al Pufahl was preceded in death by Marlyn and a brother. He is survived by sons Todd, Scott and John; grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Services were held Feb. 26.
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747