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Arthur William Allen

July 14, 1934 - January 8, 2011

1/31/11: Update submitted by Denny Hitchcock

Will you please pass this on to more of Art’s friends & get Michelle’s moving eulogy in the newsletters of the various clubs? I wish you all could have seen the fabulous display of Art’s mushing career his children created at the visitation. His children were justly proud and I am proud to have been a friend of Art’s. His passing is a tremendous loss to our sport. Thanks, Denny

From Michelle Beisker: Our sincere thanks!

International Sled Dog Racing Association (ISDRA) - Our family wanted to thank you for the beautiful flowers that expressed the association’s support when our father, Art Allen, passed away.

As you know, the sled dogs and races provided for many of our dad’s favorite memories. He fondly spoke of lifelong friends he made during these times. Those memories helped carry him through the past few years when age and frailness took over and he physically was quite limited. He always kept his good humor and tried to stay positive. I know that many times he drifted away in thought thinking about his younger years and his legacy he left behind. May you help others remember the impact Art Allen’s life had on the sled dogs, races and the clubs that were formed.

It is with such special people like you that provide us with comfort and prayers to help get us through difficult times like these. Please know how much we appreciate your thoughtfulness!

Sincerely, Kurt & Kim Allen, Dawn & Ted Staver, Craig & Michelle : “the family of Art Allen”

P.S. I have included his eulogy below. Kurt (son), Dawn (daughter) and Merv Hilpipre (lifelong friend and fellow musher) also spoke. At the end of the service we played our father’s favorite song, North to Alaska. It represented an era that has passed but will fondly be remembered.

Our dad, Art Allen, was a good man. We heard it time and time again at the visitation and all the while growing up.

The stories I remember about our dad were plentiful and too many to recall but certain areas of his life should be remembered.

He told stories of the customers he served for 50 years with his father, Bill and brother, Ron. The station was a cornerstone for the neighborhood of southwest Cedar Rapids. While vehicles were being repaired quite often the customers would remain in the lobby to visit about current events, families and joke telling. Our father often came home late as someone always needed gas, a tire repaired or something else that couldn’t wait until morning. Many times the stories included the nicknames our dad enjoyed giving the customers. It was always with a grin and a chuckle.

He told stories of the mushers he competed with on the sled dog circuit for 35 years. Each winter he traveled to anywhere there was snow, spent weeks away from home and saw people who developed into lifelong friends. I didn’t realize it as a child but our dad was a celebrity on the racing circuit. Quite often fellow mushers would ask our dad for advice about training, racing, dog food and care. There were always people around wherever our father was. Many times the stories included the nicknames our dad enjoyed giving the mushers. It was always with a grin and a chuckle.

He told stories of The Pas, his hometown in Canada. The stories included: horses, moose, bear cubs he raised, Indians that he traded sled dogs with, trappers that peddled their wild animal hides, friends and most importantly the annual winter Northern Manitoba’s Trapper’s Festival which included a 3 day 50 miles/day sled dog race. Our dad won this race 4 times which has never been matched. His fellow townspeople would cheer on the local hero and the competing mushers would wonder if they had a chance. I believe this was our father’s proudest accomplishments to hear the cheers of the crowd when he crossed the finish line. There were many other sled dog race stories but they generally ended the same way…with our dad placing in the top three if not winning most. Many times the stories included the nicknames our dad enjoyed giving the townspeople and childhood friends. It was always with a grin and a chuckle.

He told stories of his children, Kurt (the oldest), Dawn (the oldest daughter) and me (the youngest) and his grandchildren, Holly, Alyssa, Reece and Erik; and his wife, Judith of 32 years. I didn’t know this until the last few years as I began to be the one to take him to the many doctor’s appointments and provide the oversight of his much needed care. But as I began to get to know the doctors and caregivers of our dad they also heard the many stories of his service station and perhaps their parents even dealt at the station; they heard about the sled dogs and Canada; but they also heard stories about his children and grandchildren. He bragged about them quite often and the staff was always anxious to meet us. Our dad also saved every card his family ever gave him and wrote the year it was received on each one. I know that many times the stories included the nicknames our dad enjoyed giving the family members. It was always with a grin and a chuckle.

I’d like to close with two of the stories I remember because they always made him grin and chuckle.
One time our dad joined our family for dinner and told my kids the story of his childhood farm in Canada which included a tale about a pig eating his little brother. Erik was quite young at the time and while his eyes got huge he asked, “Really, Grandpa?” Our dad replied with “No, it was a joke!” and didn’t stop laughing until he almost passed out.

Another story was when I was sixteen and started dating my now husband, Craig. It was late at night and I was asleep when Craig came calling. He couldn’t climb over the bushes to get near my window so he started throwing rocks to try and wake me up. What he didn’t realize that I sleep through anything and that he woke up the 50 dogs in our backyard that started barking and thus woke up my father. My dad came into my bedroom and said, “Craig is here and must want to talk to you.” I went out to see Craig and told him he had woken up my dad. Needless to say, Craig left quickly.

The stories I remember about our dad were plentiful and too many to recall but most importantly we should all remember that he was a good man. We heard it time and time again at the visitation and all the while growing up.


1/11/2011
Submitted by Denny Hitchcock
Art Allen

Arthur William Allen died from medical complications on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011.

Memorial services: 11 a.m. Wednesday at Shueyville United Methodist Church, Shueyville. Directions/Map

A gathering will be held on Tuesday at Cedar Memorial Westside Chapel in Cedar Rapids from 4 to 7 p.m. The Rev. Tom Carver will officiate.

Arthur was born in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada, on July 14, 1934, and was the son of the late William and Madeline (Spear) Allen.

Surviving are his son, Kurt (Kim) Allen of Colorado Springs, Colo.; daughters, Dawn (Ted) Staver of Easton, Kan., and Michelle (Craig) Beisker of Cedar Rapids; grandchildren, Holly and Reece Allen, Alyssa and Erik Beisker; sisters, Shirley Mann of Thompson, Manitoba, Canada and Connie Keast of LaBroquerie, Manitoba, Canada; brothers, Ron (Kathy) Allen of Cedar Rapids and Greg Allen of Clearwater Beach, Fla. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Maureen Allen.

At the age of 22, Art moved from northern Canada to Cedar Rapids to join Highway Equipment, owned by Roy Gaddis, to care for their animals and to race sled dogs to promote the company. His true passion was working with his Siberian Alaskan sled dogs and he traveled extensively during the winter months to train and race them in New England, northern U.S. and throughout Canada. He was a four-time world sled dog champion of his hometown race at The Pas.

For almost 50 years, Art owned and operated a gas service station with his father, Bill, and then brother, Ron, located on Williams Boulevard SW, Cedar Rapids. They proudly displayed their partnership with Shell Oil Co. for 20 years, Phillips for another 20 years and then Sinclair for 10 years. Many people benefited by their full service gas which is now a thing of the past, mechanical services and good humor upon being greeted in the front office.

On Jan. 25, 1958, Art married Judith Ann Smith and later divorced after 32 years of marriage. Together they raised three children who were involved with the menagerie of animals, which mostly included dogs and horses, but on occasion involved everything from birds to monkeys.

Anyone who knew Art couldn’t help but hear stories about Canada, his sled dogs and the many sled dog races he won. He proudly remained a Canadian citizen until his death.

A memorial fund has been established.
The Shueyville United Methodist Church
1195 Steeple Lane NE
Swisher, Iowa 52338 319.848.7213.

Cedar Memorial Westside Chapel
1221 First Avenue SW
Cedar Rapids IA 52405
Phone: 319-362-1135
Directions/Map

Cedar Memorial Flower Shop
4200 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids IA 52402
Phone: 319-393-8004
Toll Free: 877-638-2622
Directions/Map


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