When Danville resident Albert Strunk was growing up in Germany, it was a holiday tradition to have a handmade nativity scene near the Christmas tree.
Strunk, 69, left Old World Germany for the New World of the United States in 1961. But the tradition instilled in him by his home country as well as his late parents Auguste and Josef lives on in Danville decades later.
The first time Strunk handcrafted the nativity scene was at age 14, when his father asked him to take over that custom. The last nativity scene Strunk created in Germany was in 1960.
Even though few people besides family members and church friends see his work, Strunk kept building the scene each holiday season.
Strunk, a member of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, describes himself as a man of faith who just wanted to continue a classic German tradition.
One year, his handiwork rested in the fireplace of his Danville home.
This year, Strunk’s creation is in the glassed-in back porch of his house, and it took him two days to build the story of the birth of Jesus Christ as outlined in the New Testament of the Bible.
Strunk was trained as a tailor in Germany and continued that vocation once he moved to the United States.
With relatives in Cincinnati, Strunk eventually found work as a quality assurance manager with the now-closed Palm Beach Co.’s Danville unit.
He spent some time working in Atlanta and Mexico and returned to Danville in 2006 when he retired.
Strunk keeps photographs of most of the nativity scenes he has built over the years.
Some of the images are fading black and white tones, but the memory and joy of each creation is still vivid for Strunk today.