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
The stories I remember about our dad were plentiful and too
many to recall but certain areas of his life should be
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
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.
Submitted by Denny Hitchcock
Arthur William Allen died from medical complications on Saturday, Jan. 8,
Memorial services: 11 a.m. Wednesday at Shueyville United Methodist
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
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
Cedar Memorial Flower Shop
4200 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids IA 52402
Toll Free: 877-638-2622
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