John Emery Allen

June 13, 1927 — December 8, 2017

John Emery Allen

John Emery Allen was born June 13, 1927 in Rockford, IL to Benjamin Harrison Allen and Elsie Estelle Emery Allen. He was the third child of four, and the only boy. His father died suddenly when John was 11, and his mother worked in a Fannie May Candies store to support the family. John dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and joined the Army Air Corps at age 18. He served as part of the army of occupation on Okinawa and was honorably discharged in 1947. He worked for contract farmers driving large machinery and he drove trucks in the Rockford area over the next few years. In 1955 he went on a blind date with Mary Lee McNames, better known as Mickey, who was a Minnesota girl visiting her relatives in Byron, a small town down the Rock River from Rockford. He moved to the Twin Cities area the following spring and began putting up Cyclone fences along freeways. He and Mickey were married Sept. 22, 1956 in Grace Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. They headed west in early 1957 and began a routine of taking the scenic route and seeing the sights. They went to San Francisco via New Orleans, El Paso, Phoenix, and LA, and when San Francisco didn't work out, they went back to Arizona, where John began working almost a mile down in the Magma copper mine in Superior. They lived in Superior and Globe and saw a great deal of Arizona, including riding mules to the bottom of Grand Canyon, and they drove as far south as they could into Mexico on one vacation. They got as far as Taxco before they had to turn back. But the mine went on strike in 1959 and stayed on strike too long, and they headed back to the Twin Cities at Christmas, where jobs awaited. They remained in the Cities for the next 16 years, while John fenced the freeways of the Upper Midwest and discovered Mickey's Jackpine Savage culture of northern Minnesota, hunting white-tail deer and ducks and partridge and catching northerns. And he bought his own horses and rode with his horse-crazy wife. But they missed the mountains, and about the time all the freeways were fenced, they headed west again, wanting to be near the San Juan Mountains and the red rocks of southern Utah. The trailer courts of Grand Junction all rejected their trailer as too small and old, and Rangely needed nurses and was not fussy about old trailers, so it became their home since 1976. In 1981, they built their dream house, with corral space for horses, on the edge of town. John worked two years as custodian at the high school and then got his dream job, driving heavy equipment for Rio Blanco County. After retirement he worked summers for Dinosaur National Monument, maintaining roads and building Sweet-Smelling Toilets. The traveling continued for many years, including a trip to see the polar bears in Churchill, MB and a trip to England that involved driving a rented mini-motorhome on the wrong side of very narrow roads all over the eastern and southern parts of the island. Probably, there was nothing that gave John more pride than his excellent driving and his almost 43 years sobriety. He will be remembered for his love of animals and his belief that pedestrians should get out of the way when they see the snow plow coming. John was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters, Jean Young and Bonnie Anderson, and two nephews, John Anderson and Allen Young. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, his sister Carrie Young of Charlotte, NC, and nieces and nephews: Jim Anderson, Deborah Darbee, Susan Parks, Julie Mulhall, and David Young. He is also survived by the people he and Mickey considered their sort-of-adopted kids: Terry Williams, Deborah Miles Freitag, Leah Tookey and Amy Fetterhoff. John spent his last months in long-term care at Rangely District Hospital. It is hard to imagine a way to give more happiness and comfort to the last days of a man of 90 whose body was slowly failing, than the care he received from the staff. Mickey will be forever grateful. Memorial services will be held outdoors in nicer weather.
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