Richard McAllister - June 13, 2011
Richard Elayer McAllister was born June 3, 1922 at the Peachtree Farm outside Piedmont, Wayne County, Mo. to Stephen Pinkney and Alice (Elayer) McAllister. He died June 13, 2011 at Hillcrest Care Center in Wray.
He was the younger brother of Lois Elizabeth and Donald Stephen and the older brother of Alice Nell. He attended Patterson High School and entered the U.S. Army Reserve in 1940 and joined the Army Air Corps in February 1942.
Richard was involved in the Air Offensive European Campaigns as a medic for the 303rd Bomb Group, 359 Medical Group. For this service he was awarded the Bronze Star.
He was discharged in 1945 and headed to St. Louis, where his sister Lois Payne and her family lived. He worked in that area for several months when he and a good buddy from childhood, Shorty Tinker, decided they’d head to the mountains of Colorado where a dam was being built near the town of Granby. The job was great and well-paying, but the real “pay-off” was meeting a little redhead who was a waitress at Circle H Corral Restaurant and Bar right above the valley where the construction work was taking place.
Just under two months after meeting Marilynn, they were married Oct. 7, 1946 in St. Louis with his sister Lois and her husband Jim Payne standing up with them.
Richard loved construction work and this meant a “few” moves for the newlyweds—Patterson, Mo., Stanton, Mo., Paris, Mo. and then a move to Stanton, N.D. where he worked on the Garrison Dam for a year and where their daughter Janet was born in 1948.
In October 1948, they headed to Seattle, Wash. with their ‘24 Schultz trailer behind a ‘41 Chrysler. Richard worked for Boeing Aircraft, and that could have been where they settled down, except for an earthquake in April of 1949. Marilynn didn’t handle that too well, so they headed to Oregon, Mo. where Richard worked on a levee job until the Mississippi River flooded.
The building of Bonny Dam had begun and the family moved to St. Francis, Kan. until its completion. Next came a job at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, near Brighton, which paid $2.25/hour. With that job completed, the next move was to Carvel, Mo. on a highway job. Richard followed the construction jobs, so moves to Kingston, Mo., Doniphan, Mo. and Poplar Bluff, Mo. followed.
Harris Frazier, Richard’s buddy from the Army, called and mentioned he’d begun a job with Sherwin-Williams Paint in Lubbock, Texas and there was a need for another salesman. The family moved there and Richard began his “white collar” job. He was transferred to Springfield, Mo. where their son Terry was born.
Grass was beginning to grow under Richard’s feet, and in May 1957 they moved to Aurora where he worked at Buckley Airfield building runways. Moves to Pueblo, where he ran a high-speed CatDW75, and Palmer Lake followed. Richard worked on the construction of the Air Force Academy while there.
Kansas came calling, and the family moved to Wakeeney, Kan., where there was work on the building of Interstate 70, and then to Newton, Kan. Their son Richard was born there.
They headed back to Colorado to Colorado Springs, Dupont, the Rinn area east of Longmont and then a new home on the county line just east of Longmont. Richard worked on missile silos at Hale and on laying Interstate 25 during this time. Richard had promised Janet she wouldn’t have to change high schools, and true to his word, she was able to graduate from Longmont.
In 1969, Richard and Marilynn moved to Carr and had a star mail route from Brighton to Carr daily and, for a short time, to Cheyenne, Wyo. In June 1973, upon Terry’s graduation from high school, they moved to Yuma County, where Richard “retired” from road construction and began working with his son-in-law, Jerry Graham.
He loved all of the jobs that farming entailed and began raising honeybees as a hobby. In 1987, as he turned 65 and was making the decision to work just during planting and harvesting time on the farm, he suffered a strangulated intestine which required the removal of 80 percent of his small intestine. During surgery, Richard lost his vision due to dangerously low blood pressure.
He came home from the hospital a much different man, physically, from the one that went in, but somehow he maintained his optimism on life. He and Marilynn moved to WrayVen Manor in Wray in 1992 and then to The Towers in 2006.
He was a handyman extraordinaire and tore into any job with intensity, regardless of the difficulty. He was a handyman who wore many hats and was equally comfortable working his bees, driving a tractor, laying bricks, maintaining his garden, doing genealogy, servicing vehicles, building his honey house, building a baby cradle or dancing with his Marilynn on Saturday nights at the Moose Lodge in Longmont.
When Marilynn, his wife of nearly 60 years, died in June 2006, all the family was concerned that Richard would just lose the will to live. Well, not him! He was able to take the Hillcrest bus to WRAC and continue walking, which was something he and Marilynn had done and enjoyed so much. Roberta Schaffner at Hillcrest held exercise class twice a week—Richard called it “fingers and toes”—and he loved that.
A week before he celebrated his 89th birthday, he told Janet, “You know, hon, I don’t know any reason why I can’t live to be 100,” and few people who knew Richard would have doubted it would happen. He lived his life to the absolute fullest with happiness and a positive attitude throughout his 89 years, and if there’s one thing his family learned from him, it’s that no matter what life flings at them, they do the job with a smile on their face and enjoy the heck out of what God has given them.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Don; sisters, Lois and Nell; brothers-in-law, Jim Payne and Monte Brooks; half-brother, Bill McAllister; and his beloved wife, Marilynn.
Richard is survived by his daughter, Janet and husband Jerry of Wray; son, Terry McAllister and wife Cara of Burns, Wyo. and Richard James McAllister of Sterling; grandchildren, Jami Gornault and husband Nick of Springfield, Mass., Stacey Besse and husband Derrick of Cheyenne, Wyo., Jessica McAllister and fiance Kyle Baldwin of Cheyenne, Mary McAllister of Laramie, Wyo., Zachary McAllister of Wray, Toby Graham and wife Courtney of Sterling, Marty Graham and wife Leela of Philadelphia, Pa. and Melanie Godsey and husband Chad of Stillwater, Okla.; great-grandchildren, Grace and Sullivan Graham of Sterling, Madison and Grady Godsey of Stillwater, Lily Graham of Philadelphia, Kaden Baldwin of Cheyenne and Taryn Renee Besse of Cheyenne; and many nephews and nieces.
Cremation was requested. Memorial services were held June 17 at Wray United Methodist Church with Rev. Norman Stott officiating.
Memorials may be given to Wray United Methodist Church.
Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home in Wray was in charge of arrangements.