Saturday, March 26, 2005

John Roland “Rol” Allen

Rol Allen, 1919 ~ 2005

Eternal Nature

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About one hundred fifty years ago, the poet William Wordsworth began writing one of his most inspiring and insightful pieces on what he deemed a crucial idea: that of man’s eternal nature; not only that we all would continue to live on after death, but that we, each of us, came from somewhere before we were born. AND that knowing where we came from, and who we were then and who we really are now, at our very core, makes a big difference.

He got the poem to a certain point, setting the stage for illustrating his main idea, but then laid it aside for a year and a half while he continued pondering the subject. He came back to it and penned these words:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us (our life's Star)
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:

Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:

Character

John Roland Allen - “Rol” to most of us - was one of those great souls; who lived in the presence of God our Heavenly Father for countless ages (as we all have). He was born into this world “trailing clouds” of his own unique traits and characteristics of excellence - deep within his soul. Then, throughout a life devoted to all that is good and all that is right he developed that spark of divinity within him, that enlivens us all, and became one of those rare individuals of whom it could be said, as Jesus has said of another great one, he was a man without guile.

Rol lived a full life of 85 years - a particularly worthy, honorable, and righteous life. He was the most kind and gracious of men; of this I would expect to find no dissenters. One life long friend, Jim King, called this morning from Arizona to say that, “Rol was the finest man I have ever known.” This was not the only call we’ve taken along these lines the past few days. The superlatives that are usually spoken about a dear loved one on a day like this, in Rol’s case happen to be true! He treated one and all alike; with the same courtesy and genuine kindness; whether famous or obscure; high up or just regular folks; the executives he knew and worked with or any those who labor hard with their hands and heart. This was one of the first lessons I learned from this gentleman. This gentle man; this beloved man.

Roles

Rol was the oldest son of his devoted, goodly parents. Rol was the older brother to Bob, who could not be here today, but who said yesterday that Rol was a good man, a hard worker and that he never knew him to speak ill of anyone. Rol was an uncle to Bob’s daughters (Jenae and Jenoe).

And Rol was a husband. Rol found the love of his life, Lee, later than most; but find her he did at age 51. Rol was devoted to Lee; and she to him. They loved each other dearly and deeply and eternally.

Rol was a good and caring father to Fred, Becky, and Craig. He was a wonderful grandfather to Carrie and Sydney, Brent and John, and Bobby and Cici. He was a proud great grandfather to a growing handful. One of his great grandsons, Ryan, is here today. In a few more days Ryan’s brother will be born. In the meantime, during the next few hours and days, we can consider that Ryan’s brother who is leaving the heavenly realm to come here to his new earthly home, and Rol just having left this world for his eternal home, have crossed paths and are sharing a brief moment together between their times on earth.

We can be comforted in knowing that today on the other side of the veil there in Paradise, Rol is busy dividing his time in a glorious reunion with his family and friends and even being personally welcomed there by a loving Heavenly Father’s heart and home, and I do not doubt that he is also watching over us today and that he will be particularly comforting and near to his Eternal Sweetheart, Lee.

Early Life, Buena Park

Born in 1919 in American Falls, Idaho, where his grandfather had served in the state legislature, and where his father worked for Safeway opening grocery stores in the Rocky Mountains and all across Canada (eleven, once, in a single day!); Rol with his parents moved to southern California, in Buena Park where Rol spent the balance of his childhood. After graduating from Covina High School in 1938, and after graduating from Chaffey College two years later, he along with two of his boyhood and life-long friends went to work for NCR. Rol’s brother said that the three of them, of course, never got into any trouble; that they were good young men who did what they were supposed to do; that’s who they were. They were from the beginning high-quality individuals. That’s what you did back then.

[I know there are some still here in this place today of that generation. God bless you for what you have done throughout your life and for how you’ve done it, and for who you are. God knows you and loves you.]

WW II, Guam

Upon hearing the news of Pearl Harbor, these three friends went down to volunteer with all the others. One went into the Army’s Air Corps; the other into the Signal Corps. Rol went into the Navy, becoming a Lieutenant helping the Navy staff run the war and take care of the sailors in the Pacific. He served as a recruiter, he served in Hawaii, and then on Guam. He stayed on Guam throughout the very end of the war, past VJ Day, processed all the sailors in the Pacific theater back home. When he also finally made it back stateside, the three friends returned to work at NCR.

Rol spent 30 years with NCR. He was a dependable, hard, and conscientious worker. He was honest, professional and personable in all dealings - public or private. Another lesson I later learned from this quality individual.

Lee, Whittier

Soon after the war, he moved to Whittier and made it his own. Years later as we would go about town doing this or that, everywhere we went someone would know and love and respect and chat with Rol. He was a friend to 100s, even 1000s.

About the time he was retiring from NCR he was introduced to Lee. They married at Christmas time in 1971 and Rol inherited a family in desperate need of a father figure. He dove right in providing the stability and the love and the example that a father should provide. And more. He gave of himself, of his time, of his talents. Everything he had and was he would devote to his new family. Finally, Lee enjoyed the peace and joy and happiness that she so richly deserved but which had eluded her for so many years. After twenty years of marriage, and after having a single set of home teachers for 19 of those 20 years, Rol requested baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A year later they were sealed together for time and for all eternity in the House of the Lord. Eternal Sweethearts.

Service

Rol served faithfully in whatever he set out to do; whether it was his community, his friends, his family, or his Church; or his God. During the past few days we have dipped into his scriptures and it is quite evident that he had become familiar with each book, and the truths and the spirit that are found therein. In his late seventies and early eighties, he served faithfully and diligently as Ward Clerk, till Lee needed him more than the ward. Ultimately Rol and Lee moved here to this wonderful place so that he could ensure that Lee would have the constant personal care she needed, no matter what.

Rol and Lee Allen were a positive factor for good in their family, with their many quality friends, with all those they worked with, and their neighbors. Jesus illustrated who was truly a neighbor in one of his well-known parables; and Rol and Lee epitomized this ideal. We all could feel of their love and reaped the tangible benefits of their loving actions. Another lesson I learned.

Retirement

After retiring from NCR Rol went to work with Bill Rose, one of his three life-long friends, in the continually evolving and fast-paced information technology industry. And then, after retiring for good, they all moved up to Las Vegas to enjoy life and family and friends. And just a little bit of golf.

Their home was filled with books on art and science, on finance and current events. Rol and Lee personally cared for Rol’s mother Grace in their own home for the last 15 years of her life. And Grace lived past the age of one hundred years old!

Trying Circumstances

Rol and Lee were totally devoted to one another. Each taking turns over the years taking care of the other; during whatever twists and turns would come their way during the various phases of their lives. As many have experienced in twilight years, Rol has lately had to deal with some serious, trying circumstances. In this he was still more than pleasant to all those he met, and dealt with. Whether richer or poorer; whether in good health or in debilitating illnesses they were there for each other.

Advice: "Friends"

I was fortunate in so many ways to marry Lee’s daughter Becky. I was so very fortunate to have Lee and Rol as my in-laws. The day of our marriage, they sat us down gave us one specific piece of heartfelt advice. (We were in the habit, and always have been, of frequent wide-ranging conversations with them. Still, they took the time to set us down and give this one piece of counsel: “Be friends. With ALL that marriage is and provides a young-and-in-love couple: Be friends. Be best friends.” That, in addition to all the other roles we would have and enjoy, being true friends would see us through the hard times, and in the end, when there would be an empty nest, we would have our “best friend” there to live out the rest of our lives together. We took that advice and enjoy the benefits from following their advice. And so did they.

Last Days, Hours

Becky was by Rol’s side the past couple days of his time here on earth, and had the feeling that he did not want to leave her. That he struggled to stay here so he could be with her and love her and watch over her. But, the cascading problems of multiple infections, strokes, heart attacks and lung problems, after also having to deal with prostate cancer, finally took its toll on Rol.

Knowing that he was about to pass though the veil, through that door we call “death” into the spirit world, there to await the Resurrection; the last hour of Rol’s time here on earth, was spent with his family, his three children, and Lee’s devoted sister, Jolinda. He received a Priesthood blessing. They had Lee brought to the hospital to sit with Rol one last time. Now, it was Lee’s turn to provide Rol with the companionship and love and support when he needed it. She stroked and touched and patted and comforted her sweetheart. Within an hour of Lee’s visit, Rol opened his eyes one last time, then, his breathing slowed, slower and slower till it finally stopped. Peacefully he passed on to the other side.

'Angels' Unseen Around Those They Love

Now Rol can watch over Lee, as Sullivan Ballou wrote in his sweet letter to his own wife just before he went to fight and die in the first battle of the Civil War: [I have inserted Lee’s name into the famous letter.]

"[Lee] my love for you is deathless . . .

"The memories of all the blissful moments I have spent with you come . . . over me; And I feel most deeply grateful to God and you that I have enjoyed them so long. And [now] how hard it is for me to give them up . . .

"My dear [Lee] never forget how much I love you. And when my last breath escapes me . . . I shall whisper your name.

"Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have often times been. How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and [continue to] struggle . . . [be with] you . . . But I cannot.

"I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you while you buffet the storms . . . I wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

"But Oh [Lee], if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be near you in the gladdest day and in the darkest night, amidst your happiest [moments] and gloomiest hours -- always, always.

"And if there be a soft breeze upon your cheeks, it shall be my breath; or [if] the cool air cools your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

"[Lee], do not mourn me dead, think I am gone and [to wait for you], for we shall meet again.

I can see Rol on the other side of the veil waiting patiently till Lee arrives. Waiting patiently for us all to arrive.

Promise

Rol had his portion, as we all will in some way unique to ourselves, of the bitter fruit of this world’s earthly struggles. But I witness to you that he has earned through his everyday character a significant portion of the sweet fruit of the tree of life . . . We are given us the promise of peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, Rol has earned -- more than any other man I know here on earth -- a measure of this peace here, and will reap because of his righteousness and the grace of his Father in Heaven a fullness of joy in the eternal realm. The place where he is, even today.

Jesus offered us great consolation when he said (John 16:12, 20):

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. . . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament . . . and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

An Awakening, A Remembering

And paraphrasing the poet, Rol’s death is but an awakening and a remembering, as his soul rises to return to a loving God who sent him on this earth life’s journey. Freed from worldly cares and woes, Rol can now work with the angels in our behalf.

I testify that he returns to his God “trailing clouds” of love as he hears the kind words said unto him, “well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the place I have prepared for you. Oh how I love you so. Welcome home.”

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* Thank you all for coming. I know Rol would be happy/pleased that you came

Written by Scott L. Vanatter (Eulogy, for Rol's funeral)