Described as a loving father, a doting grandfather and a loyal friend, Alfred “Torch” Torcivia was a blessing to those who knew him. A lifelong resident of the community he loved, he was well known and respected. Al was deeply devoted to his family, and there was nothing that made him more proud than witnessing his family tree blossom to include the children and grandchildren he treasured. A man of great strength, honor, and courage, Al leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
It was during the dark days of the 1930s when the Great Depression was in full swing that Alfred and Margaret Torcivia were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Alfred Edward on March 11, 1938, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One of six children, he was raised in the family home on the Lower East Side of Milwaukee alongside his older siblings, Robert and Barbara, and his younger siblings, Richard, Joseph, and Thomas. Al’s father was a detective with the Milwaukee Police Department while his mother was a homemaker. He was a typical young boy of his generation who loved all sports, chess, and swimming in the Milwaukee River as well as playing on the playground. It was in fourth grade that Torch met the love of his life, Mary Jane, but it wasn’t until much later that their love began to grow. He started working as a busboy at the Ivanhoe Dining Room, but he was later hired by Mary Jane’s mother to clean in the bar she owned on Brady Street. Although he and Mary Jane went to separate high schools, he was never able to get her out of his mind.
Al attended Lincoln High School where he was a proud member of the choir. As a boy of 15, tragedy struck when his father suddenly died after undergoing routine surgery. Because his father was so looking forward to the Braves 1953 debut season, Al found a way to attend opening day. Mary Jane was Al’s date for his senior prom, and he went on to graduate in 1956.
With his high school education behind him, Al was eager for all that life had in store. He started working at Oster Manufacturing and then at Cornell Paper, but in 1959 he joined the Army. Al reported to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and spent a year there. During this time he briefly lost touch with Mary Jane who was attending Marquette University. Following in his father’s footsteps, Al joined the police department in 1960 after returning home. He and Mary Jane began dating, and they got engaged the same day she graduated from Marquette. The two sweethearts were married on July 1, 1961. Just a couple of months later, due to the Berlin Crisis, Al was called to serve in the National Guard in October. He was deployed to Fort Lewis in Tacoma while Mary Jane remained in Milwaukee until joining him during the Easter break. In June of 1962, their first son Phil was born at Madigan Army Hospital, and in July of 1963 Matthew was born. The family lived on Brady Street, and Al continued working for the police department. In 1968 they moved to the South Side of Milwaukee, and their family was completed with the births of Tony and Katie. Torch took police science courses at Marquette for a few years, and in 1970 he was promoted to the detective bureau where he remained until retiring in 1990 after more than 30 years on the job. Although he lost three of his biological brothers, the police department provided Al with so many brothers in arms. The bonds that formed among these men can never be broken.
Over the years Torch experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer, but what made them so extraordinary was sharing them with the ones he loved. Priceless memories were made as a chaperone for Mary’s class trip to Hawaii in 1977, and in 1988 he went on a once in a lifetime vacation to Spain. There were also trips to New York to see his grandchildren, Nick, Anjelica, and Rosalina, and during their later years they followed Katie’s family around the county to enjoy time with their granddaughters, Abby and Emily. Al enjoyed golfing at Pebble Beach where his grandson, Nick, was a college intern, and he also went on golfing trips with his buddies. A lifelong sports fan, he made annual trips to Lambeau Field and was in the stands for the final Brewers baseball game at County Stadium as well as their first game at Miller Park. A die-hard Warriors fan, Torch was a season ticket holder for Marquette basketball for nearly 50 years.
After retiring, Al still kept busy. He organized numerous fundraising events for cystic fibrosis including their annual Hogwash event. Al worked as a private investigator and later became known as “The Lottery Guy” for his role as the Drawing Manager at the Wisconsin Lottery for 10 years. Al was famous for saying to Mary, “You know what I could go for….”, a sure sign that meal plans were made. Al had a discerning palate, but among his favorites were Mary’s sauce and meatballs, cannoli, pineapple malts, popcorn, and hot dogs from Leon’s. A lifelong fan of great music, Al saw so many of his favorites in concert including Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Dave Brubeck. Al was also an Elvis fan and it was a day to remember when he met Elvis while working security at his concert in Milwaukee. The King handed one of his sweaty scarves to Al to deliver to a disabled fan.
All who knew Alfred Torcivia would agree that he was one of the most extraordinary people around. He had an easy manner and quick wit that was sure to evoke laughter. Al was a big kid who was always clowning around with his kids and grandkids, but he was also a mentor to many more. Calm, collected and self-assured, Torch took everything in stride. He appreciated each and every day, sharing his timeless wisdom freely with others. Life will never be the same without Torch, but his loved ones will forever treasure his memory.
Alfred E. “Torch” Torcivia passed away peacefully January, 29, 2017. Beloved husband and best friend of Mary Jane Torcivia (nee Ehlert). Cherished father of Phil Torcivia, Matt Torcivia, Tony Torcivia and Katie (Bryan) Griffith. Loving father-in-law of Patrice Torcivia. Beloved “Papa Al” of Nicholas, Anjelica, and Rosalina Torcivia and Abby and Emily Griffith. Dear brother of the late Robert Torcivia, Barbara (Tom) Pokrandt, the late Richard Torcivia, Joseph (Mary Jo) Torcivia and the late Thomas Torcivia. Further survived by other relatives and friends. Family and friends will gather to celebrate Al’s life Friday, February 3, 2017, at St. Leonard Church W173 S7743 Westwood Dr. Muskego, WI 53150 from 10:00 a.m. until time of the Memorial Mass at 11:30 a.m. If desired, memorials to St. Leonard Parish Building Fund, Three Holy Women Parish Legacy Fund or the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
My sympathy to your family, albeit 6 years late. I well remember Mary Jane as new wife to Alfred, and both teaching and tutoring in Spanish that provoked my continued interest in the language and history of Spain & Spanish America’s.– all starting at the high school level in Milwaukee. I’ve since gone much further, to grad school out East, govt work and travel abroad, but have never forgotten that first introduction to wider cultural knowledge sparked by Ms Ehlert Torcivua. Appreciation and respectful regards even today in 2023