There is something about a river as it leaves the mountains. The cold water infused from recently melted snow as it seeps into brooks and springs and settles in the deepest ravine flows with just enough sediment to provide minerals for living things such as caddis fly nymphs, stone fly larvae and other critters, but not so much sediment as to cloud the water into a milky soup. Such was the water in Henry’s Fork of the Snake near it’s junction with the Warm River and the Fall River as it flows out of the Yellowstone area. The aforementioned insect larvae supplied thousands of land-locked salmon relatives like rainbow and cutthroat trout. And it was these fish that kept my Uncle coming back to these waters summer after summer.
My Uncle Allen was born on Main Street in Tooele, Utah. He grew up in family of grocers where he and his two brothers would help in the store, as well as the garden and chicken coops which supplied the store. Allen developed a love of music as did his brothers Karl and Bob and he could distinguish the sounds of Tommy Dorsey from the Glenn Miller Band and was known to disappear into “Allen’s World” to listen to his music. Also a lover the symphony, he was also an athlete in high school and college and would follow sports teams his whole life, especially the University of Utah and the Utah Jazz.
Allen’s life covered a broad spectrum of interests and commitments, ranging from his religion, to his profession as an attorney, as a father of four, grandfather of 8 and a great grandfather of 11. As a husband to his wife Verla of Ashton, Idaho, he had a long and successful and mutually supportive marriage. He served his religion, the LDS faith as a mission president in Adelaide, Australia as well as served in other capacities throughout his life. As an attorney, he represented the LDS Church on numerous occasions working for Kirton, McConkie and Bushnell.
My experience with my Uncle Allen was immeasurably enhanced by a mutual interest in music and fishing. On numerous occasions, I was able to use his season tickets to the Utah Symphony when he was unable to attend, and I enjoyed many excursions over the years, travelling with him to Ashton, Idaho to fish in the Fall River and Henry’s Fork. Allen till fairly late in his life was navigating up and down the Fall River climbing over jagged basalt, a feat that still amazes me when I contemplate it.
I learned a lot from Allen over the years as he would tell stories about Tooele growing up and about long dead ancestors and relatives he knew. I doubt he heard much of my side of the conversation as his hearing was always very poor. But he did a good job and nodding and acting like he heard every word. But every once in a while, a follow up question you might make would expose the extent to which he was hearing impaired.
Allen liked to golf and in his later years, many of my experiences with him had to do with golfing. His language, unlike his golf game, was impeccable. The worst thing he would say when his shot went awry was “oh Allen.” Luckily, he likely didn’t hear some of the more colorful language which came from my mouth.
Allen was loved, honored and respected by many. During my career as a tax administrator, many times I ran into people within the legal profession who asked if I was related to Allen. An affirmative response from me bought me some much needed credibility which was most appreciated.
My Uncle Allen lived a long and good life. His wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will all miss him terribly. As his nephew, I felt privileged to have spent so much time with him over the years.