Albert Herman Tietjen
December 9, 1928 ~ October 8, 2009

It is with regret that we post this Empty Saddles to announce the passing of our friend "Al" Tietjen, a master silver and metal worker, and friend of the Western Folklife Center. Al is one of the featured gearmakers in our online exhibition, Back at the Ranch: An Artful Life, along with a photo of the beautiful bit that he donated to the Western Folklife Center, an honored part of our collection.

From the the Reno, Gazette-Journal, we share Al's obituary:

Albert Herman Tietjen, 80, of Reno, Nevada passed away at his home on October 8, 2009, following a brief battle with cancer. Albert (Al) was born in Winnemucca, Nevada, on December 9, 1928 to Henry and Bernadine Tietjen. He was raised on a ranch in Paradise Valley with his two brothers, Herman and Heine, until shortly after his father's death in 1937. Later his mother remarried and the family moved to Reno, Nevada.
As a young man, Al went into the bit and spur business with his cousin and they opened a shop in San Francisco, California. He was drafted into the Army in January 1951, and served in Korea thorough November of 1952. After returning from the war he was employed by the Ford dealership in Reno, and in his spare time continued to hone his skills as a bit and spur maker. During this time, Al met and married the love of his life, Elsie, in April of 1954. Al later went into the bit business full-time and went on to become a world-renowned maker of some of the finest silver and gold bits and spurs ever made. Over the years, Al was honored with numerous awards for his fine craftsmanship. He received an invitation in 1996 to participate in and exhibit his work at The Gathering of the Living Legends in Calgary, Canada. In 1998 he was an original inductee into the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA). Also, in 2001 Al was the recipient of the Governor's Arts Award for Excellence in Folk Arts.
Al is survived by his wife of 55 years, Elsie; son John (Cindy); granddaughters Michaela and Amanda; Brother Herman (Anita) of Winnemucca; and several nieces and nephews. Al was preceded in death by his father Henry, step-father Bob Knieke, mother Bernadine, and brother Heine.
Services were held on Wednesday, October 14, 2009, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, 1138 Wright Street, Reno,775-323-6894. In lieu of flowers, you may donate to Saint Mary's Hospice, 18653 Wedge Parkway in Reno, 775-770-3081; or to the American Cancer Society, please call 800-227-2345.

          "Al Tietjen, a master silver and metal worker, was a friend of the Western Folklife Center..." - Meg Glaser, Artistic Director