Friday, February 6, 2009

Terry Allen

This article is about my brother. I haven't talked to him since I was 12, so over ten years due to a falling out my dad and him had. We've been trying to find him since he left. I got a call today that he passed away. He will always be my "Big Bro", I could never say Terry when I was younger so I always called him Big Bro.
RIP My Big Bro.
CAMBRIDGE - They sat at Rosedale Cemetery in a single row of cold, metal chairs, the only family that Terry Allen ever really would have.

Frost steamed from their breath as they silently bowed their heads. Above the sound of winter winds racing across the barren landscape, the Rev. Dawn Keenan sang "Amazing Grace."

The sun, set high in an endless blue sky, shown bright on the ivory, ice-hardened snow. The crunch of footsteps soon indicated the arrival of others, coming to say goodbye to the Geneseo resident.

These were Mr. Allen's co-workers from Tyson Foods in Joslin. They made the trip to Cambridge to say goodbye to a friend.

Mr. Allen, 47 -- described as a quiet, solitary man they never really knew very well -- died alone Thursday in his third-floor apartment.

Nobody claimed him.

Henry County Coroner Dave Johnson has not been able to locate any of Mr. Allen's next of kin.

"We believe he's from Iowa," Mr. Johnson said. "He did not report to work for a few days, and friends at work became concerned.

"He was found at his home," he said. "I've made over 40 phone calls to different people by the name of Allen with no luck."

Some years back, Mr. Johnson bought plots in the cemetery southwest of Cambridge for people such as Mr. Allen. In the past 15 years, Mr. Johnson has helped bury five people who died without any family.

It's the county's responsibility, he said, to take care of the deceased if the body is not claimed.

Mr. Allen's life must have had an impact on someone, his co-workers said. At least it did to them.

Dawn Lane of Colona came in the bitter cold to say goodbye. She met Mr. Allen through her husband. They traded books.

"He came to our wedding," she said. "He was a quiet guy, introverted. He was my friend; it's sad he passed."

She paused a moment.

"I couldn't stand the thought of him being out here all by himself."

Other co-workers shared similar sentiments.

Stephen Market of Geneseo, Jeremiah Larrison of Silvis and Troy Scott of Moline all worked in the freezer with Mr. Allen at Tyson's. It was Mr. Scott who called police after Mr. Allen missed work, something he never did.

They described Mr. Allen as a man who came to work early, read voraciously and kept to himself. He had a sister, they said, but never spoke of her.

"The man knew so much," Mr. Scott said, his hands pressed deep in his pockets.

"We came to honor him,"Mr. Larrison said. "No man should be buried alone. He was a good guy."

As Rev. Keenan read from the Gospel of John, another co-worker, Fonda Redell of Moline, approached with a small vase of plastic flowers. Dave Moore of Stackhouse-Moore Funeral broke up frozen clods of earth to fill the vase Ms. Redell brought as another co-worker placed his hand gently atop the casket.

The man looked down and paused, then slowly walked away from Mr. Allen's eternal resting spot.

"He knew me by Turtle," said Jon Ruggles of East Moline. "We'd just sit and talk -- movies, articles, information. I enjoyed the same thing -- documentaries, on polar bears to books.

"He was always a good guy," he said, adding his friend had some health problems. According to Mr. Johnson, Mr. Allen died of natural causes.

His landlord, John Nelson, of rural Geneseo, said he knew little about his tenant -- other than he paid his rent on the first of every month. The apartment, however, is a mess, he confided:a lot of clutter, a lonely existence, an overabundance of books.

Mr. Allen's estate is unknown at this time, according to Mr. Johnson. Henry County's public administrator, Geneseo attorney Curt Ford, will have to sort it out, Mr. Johnson said.

As Ms. Lane made a final pass by the casket, a funeral director briefly opened the lid. She placed a book she had borrowed from her friend inside Mr. Allen's casket, joining the others in saying goodbye.