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Eulogy to Al, My Brother

A touching tribute to Al, written by Jim Allison, November 1999

He was my brother in the truest and finest sense of that word. He was just my brother but he was my best friend, too.

Early in our lives, we lived on a remote homestead in northern Colorado. Out of necessity, we made do with one another as playmates. That’s when our friendship, our companionship and brotherhood started to develop.

Over the next 10 or 12 years, we moved about a lot. When we left old friends and moved to a new town with a new school, we didn’t have a problem. We each already had a friend, and then we made new friends together. But we were always a team. If Jack was my friend, he was Al’s friend, too. We came to share similar likes and dislikes, we pretty much came to have similar interests.

In high school, we both played on the basketball team and baseball team. In basketball, he was always better than I was so he finally made the first team while I didn’t.

Up until he went into the navy in 1944, he was Rolland to everyone who knew him. He became Al while in the navy and he’s been known as Al ever since, except to my sister who still insists on calling him by his Christian name.

We spent one and a half years in college together, where we were roommates in a boarding house and again played together on the basketball team; but this time neither of us made it beyond the second team. I ran out of money and credit and dropped out of college but he persevered and graduated, while I was serving in the army in the early fifties.

Later, just after Al and Jo were married, I decided to finally go back and finish my education. He invited me to stay at their house for free room and board when they could ill afford it. He was always looking out for his little brother, and freely shared what little he had, or they had. He was my mentor as well as my best friend.

Our closeness continued all our lives, even though we were often separated by hundreds of miles. We went fishing together, hunting together, camping together and just simply communing together. We went several times into the deep boondocks of western Ontario on wilderness fishing/camping trips, usually with just one or two other companions. We didn’t need a mob to keep us company. We shared the fun and shared the work, and sat around the campfire, often in silence because we didn’t really have to talk all the time.

I salute him as a kind, courageous man, a good husband and a loving father and grandfather. I salute him for his dedication of 33 years in that noble profession of educator.

We are the ones hurting by his passing on. We are the ones suffering the pain. But what if we didn’t have this pain? It would mean that we hadn’t had the sharing, the closeness of all of those years. What a blessing that has been.

Linked toJames Howard Allison; Rolland Morton Allison

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