January 31, 1932 – August 23, 2023
Albert Wiley, Sr. (affectionally known as “Peter” to some), son of the late Lillar Wiley and the late Albert Traitor, was born on January 31, 1932, in Palm Beach County, Florida. Having lost both parents at a young age, he was raised by his grandparents and aunts, alongside his cousins, who became like brothers and sisters. After a lengthy illness, Albert was called home to the Lord for eternal rest on Wednesday, August 23, 2023, at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.
His Early Years
Mr. Wiley attended public school in Plantation, FL and after graduating from high school, he entered the United States Army. He served eighteen months active duty in the Korean Conflict, receiving an Honorable Discharge. Shortly after his military service ended, he met a man who told him to drive to Greensboro, NC and find someone by the name Dr. Samuel Cooper Smith who was Dean of the Technical Institute of A & T from 1951 to 1967. He did so and Dr. Smith provided Mr. Wiley a place to live while he worked his way through what is now known as North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A & T). He pursued courses of study in the field of mechanics and earned his certificate in 1957.
Today, Smith Hall stands on A & T’s campus named after Mr. Wiley’s mentor.
Family, Faith, and Service
During his time at A & T, Albert Wiley met Bernice Shoffner, a Greensboro native. They married in 1960, moved to Brooklyn, NY, and from this union, two children were born: Albert, Jr. “Butch” and Courtney. This past September 5, 2023, the Wileys would have celebrated 64 wonderful years of marriage.
Not long after arriving in Brooklyn, the couple joined The Concord Baptist Church of Christ in 1960. Driven by a call to service, Albert became a Deacon in 1977. He fulfilled the role of Recording Secretary for the Board of Deacons for many years and, most recently, served as First Vice Chairman. He loved First Sundays at Concord, and, like clockwork, he would arrive at the church early to set the Communion table with reverence and care. When he served Communion on the sanctuary floor, he was always assigned to the parishioners in the balcony. Serving with a smile, he would quickly move from one pew to the next, nodding and smiling as he greeted the people. It was always a wonder how he made it up those stairs so quickly. His daughter and friends secretly nicknamed him “Speedy Gonzales”, after the cartoon character, amusing themselves at how fast he could get from the main floor to the balcony.
After Communion, he would be among the group of deacons cleaning the glasses and putting away the supplies. The family knew if it was First Sunday, you had to wait for Wiley Sr. to finish cleaning the Communion glasses before it was time to go home.
Mr. Wiley, also a member of the Pastor’s Aid and the Men’s Chorus, worked alongside his wife to found and establish The Concord Archives for the purpose of securing mementos of the church’s history. His service to the community and church was recognized by the James B. Adams Visitation Club and Health Care Ministry in 1995 and 2011, respectively.
Education & Legacy
Committed to furthering his education, Albert continued his studies at New York University, receiving Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees, in Education in, respectively, 1971 and 1978. In addition, he studied at City University, earning a Professional Diploma with Honors in Administration and Supervision. He instilled the tradition of academic achievement in his two grandsons, who are a true reflection of their grandparents’ educational excellence. Both grandsons attended college on academic scholarships and have set out to achieve the highest degrees in their respective fields. Philip Malik attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Undergraduate) and Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned a Masters and a Ph.D. Cameron Ross attended The Ohio State University (Undergraduate), North Carolina Central University (Masters) and will receive from The University of California – Irvine, a Ph.D. in 2024.
After spending several years in the private sector, Albert moved on to become an instructor at Training Resources for Youth for High School dropouts and probationary young men. Later, he became a teacher of Industrial Arts at Rikers Island Correctional Facility and moved onto public education at Winthrop Junior High School in Brooklyn (NYC District # 18).
While at Winthrop Junior High School, Albert was an Industrial Arts and Aerospace Education teacher. His aerospace students won five consecutive annual City-Wide Fly-Ins, making Winthrop Junior High School the only school to accomplish this record in New York City. Articles about Albert and his students were highlighted in The Sunday New York Times and The New York Daily News. Two national publications, The Journal of Aerospace Education and Model Aircraft News, also featured articles describing the success of his aerospace program.
In 1975, District #18 selected Albert to receive The Knights of Pythias Award for “Outstanding Craftsmanship”.
Later, Mr. Wiley moved to NYC District #17 and continued to teach Industrial Arts and Aerospace Education at Intermediate School #391. It was on his recommendation that the school be named Mahalia Jackson Intermediate School 391.
In 1988, he was appointed Assistant Principal at IS 391 and, in 1991, he was appointed Principal, where he served until retirement in 1996.
The Work of His Hands and Heart
Albert’s mastery of mechanics, intertwined with an amazing creative ingenuity made him very valuable to have around. Everyone who knew him treasured his ability to fix just about anything, most especially, a vehicle. There are still mystery car keys hanging around his home. One could be assured that whatever Albert fixed, did indeed work. His family nicknamed him “MacGyver”, after the fictional character of the TV series of the same name. Once retired, he could sometimes be found watching the original MacGyver TV series on a DVD set gifted to him. Of his prized “fixes” was his Volkswagen Beetle he built with his son. He enjoyed zipping through Brooklyn in his Beetle much to the delight of people who would honk and wave as he drove by and asking him “How much?” He would smile and wave in response as his Volkswagen Beetle was not for sale. Occasionally, Albert could be seen giving a curious kid from the church a quick ride around the block, just for fun.
Children and young people were the focal point of his life. Children from Winthrop Street would join him in the yard to watch him make something work: a go-cart, a model airplane, or a remote-control helicopter. His gift for working with children and young people was evidenced by the random visits in the yard by his former students, just to talk.
Faithful Aggies to their core, Albert and Bernice have served as members and officers of the New York City Alumni/ae Chapter of North Carolina A & T State University. They supported the institution and rarely missed a homecoming, donning their matching blue and gold outfits, up until 2018.
Mr. Wiley also was a faithful member of The Bedford-Stuyvesant (Brooklyn) Lions Club, International, where he held several offices, and received the distinguished “Lion of the Year” Award in 2008.
Mt. Wiley is predeceased by his beloved parents and sister, Bernice Thompson. He leaves to mourn his loss, Bernice, his wife of 64 years; son, Albert Jr. (Robin) of Raleigh, NC; daughter, Courtney (Randolph) of Briarwood, NY; two grandsons, Cameron Ross Wiley of Irvine, CA and Philip Malik Jean-Remy of Oakland, CA; two bonus grandchildren, Ashley Jarrosay (Joelvis) of Beaumont, TX and Christopher Harris of Philadelphia, PA; the Wiley family matriarch, Aunt Ethel “Sudy” Williams of Canal Point, FL and cousin Willa Johnson of Portsmouth, RI., who Albert cherished as a sister.
Also mourning Mr. Wiley’s loss are a host of nephews and nieces from both sides of his family; many relatives from the Foster-Wiley connection with whom he enjoyed deep fellowship; brother deacons, fellow Aggie alumni/ae, the Bedford Stuyvesant Lion family, his neighbors, former students, and most anyone who came to know him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson cites numerous ways in which one can define success. Albert’s life is a reflection of success. His love of the Lord guided his every move and word. When Albert would join in the chorus of “Near the Cross”, one could hear him singing just a bit louder than the rest.
In the Cross, in the cross, be my glory ever, Till my ransomed soul shall find, rest beyond the river.
Albert was given his eternal rest beyond the river, having made a difference in the lives of others and the world around him. Sleep well, husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. We will see you in the morning.
Funeral Services for Albert Wiley, Sr., were conducted at The Concord Baptist Church of Christ and officiated by The Reverend Dr. Gary V. Simpson, Senior Pastor, on Friday, September 1, 2023, at 10:00am. Mr. Wiley was interred at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton, NY.
- Submitted to Our Time Press from the family of Mr. Albert Wiley, Sr.