Funeral services for Gordon "Rock" Allen will be held on Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. at Faith Lutheran Church in Morris, Minnesota. Reverend Dell Sanderson will be officiating. There will be limited seating at the church. A visitation will be held on Friday, February 19, 2021 from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. at Pedersen Funeral Home in Morris. Burial will be on Saturday, at 1:00 p.m. at the Valley View Cemetery in Browns Valley, Minnesota. Following the burial, there will be a visitation gathering at the Beardsley Town Hall in Beardsley until 3:30 p.m.
There will be a live stream of Gordon’s service starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 20th. To view the service on the Pedersen Funeral Home website, scroll to the bottom of Gordon’s page and click on the link.
While maintaining social distancing guidelines, we are now able to accommodate gatherings of up to 250 people. The use of face masks by attendees is required, and we will continue taking the necessary steps to keep our facility clean. For those who prefer or require continued precautions, webcasting and/or livestreaming is available in most situations.
Gordon John “Rock” Allen was born May 27, 1925 to Glenn and Irma (Zimbrick) Allen at Graceville Hospital, Graceville MN. Gordon was baptized and confirmed at the Beardsley Methodist church.
Gordon’s roots to his hometown run deep. His great-grandfather, Sanford Allen, settled in Roberts County, SD in 1897. His grandfather, E.S. Allen was the Land Agent in Beardsley and served as Big Stone County Commissioner. Gordon’s father, Glenn Allen, along with his Uncle Verne, were life-long “Beardsley” boys, served in WWI, and were original members of Beardsley Legion Post #302. Gordon’s grandparents on his mother’s side, John and Carrie Zimbrick, homesteaded north of Beardsley in 1887. His mother, Irma, grew up on the Zimbrick homestead and graduated from Beardsley High School in 1919 with classmate and best friend Mary Allen (Bermel), later to be her sister-in-law and beloved aunt to Gordon.
Gordon’s early years were spent north of Beardsley near his Zimbrick relatives where he attended rural school. Gordon recalled the blinding dust storms, blizzards, and other hardships of the Great Depression. He also had the joy of exploring country life with cousins, Howard and John Zimbrick. Hunting, as well as raising and showing livestock at the Traverse County Fair, kept the boys busy. His later childhood was spent on a farm southwest of Beardsley, one-half mile east of the Holtz farm near Big Stone Lake. Gordon spent many hours with the Holtz family, attending school in District 15, hunting, fishing and farming. Following country school, Gordon attended Morris Ag School, where he played football and earned the nickname “Rock Crusher” for his size and strength on the field. By 1943 he was known as “Rock”. His studies at Morris Ag School were interrupted by World War II, and Rock enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
Rock served in the Pacific theater during the war. He operated one of the largest guns on his ship against Kamikaze attacks. He was also part of the Navy amphibious (Underwater Demolition Teams) UDT teams that were a forerunner to the Navy Seals. He served on a troop transport during the invasions of Iwo-Jima and Okinawa, and was present in the Sea of Japan during the Japanese surrender. He visited three of Japan’s principal islands, the Philippines, China, Guam, Saipan, Okinawa, Australia and more. He long remembered the extreme tide changes as a lookout in the Aleutians, of the panic caused when porpoises were mistaken for torpedoes, and of being present off-shore during the famous flag raising on Moujnt Suribachi after the Battle of Iwo-Jima.
Following the war, Rock returned to farming with his dad southwest of Beardsley. Still a kid at heart, Rock loved hunting, fishing, and playing basketball and baseball with friends. He also started flying planes with his dad. In January of 1947, Rock was piloting his dad’s Taylor-craft plane with his friend, Luverne Powers, as passenger. On a return flight from Ortonville, motor trouble caused the plane to crash in a pasture on the Howard Hamner farm southeast of Beardsley. The men were thrown from the plane and found unconscious. Rock spent the next year at the Vet’s hospital in Minneapolis, recovering from a crushed hip, ankle and foot, and numerous other injuries, including blindness in his left eye.
In 1948, Rock’s life took a sharp turn when he met a pretty little lady at the Browns Valley Coliseum. A senior in high school and five years younger than Rock, Miss Marilyn Ingerson caught his eye. Sometime thereafter, a bar fight was reported one morning to Browns Valley Depot Agent, Mr. A.J. Ingerson. Mr. Ingerson ran home and reported to his wife that a bar fight had broken out in town the night prior over their daughter. When asked 60 years later if the story was true, Rock only said, “I did not start it.”
Despite Mr. & Mrs. Ingerson’s objections to their refined daughter taking up with a Beardsley man who engaged in bar fights, Rock and Marilyn tied the marriage knot on Sep 4, 1949 and moved to the Beardsley farm where they would spend the next 25 years. Friends expressed serious concerns that the city girl could endure farm life. Marilyn quickly adjusted and excelled at farm life. Within 13 years, seven children were born to the couple.
Rock’s drinking had become an increasing problem following his airplane accident, and his alcohol abuse continued to spiral out of control after he married. After much suffering, the prayers of many, and the intervention of recovering alcoholics in the community, Rock took his last drink in April 1959. In the late 60s, a new program was being developed through Wilmar State Hospital to train counselors to work with alcoholics. It was Rock’s calling. Marilyn took over milking cows and running the farm with the kids while Rock attended school. In 1974, Rock and Marilyn moved to Morris where he took a position as an alcohol counselor for Stevens County after working for a short time in Traverse and Big Stone Counties. Rock also had a radio show through the Ortonville station discussing alcoholism. His friends enjoyed teasing him about being able to shut him off. For the rest of his life, along with wife, Marilyn, Rock embraced the life of sobriety and helping others through recovery.
By 1974, grandchildren began arriving and Rock slowly softened into “Rocky”. Grandchildren were boosted in the air by his huge hands and his long arms embraced them all. His bald head, looming size, enormous hands, and booming voice became a legend to new generations of Allen kids. Grandpa Rocky continued to farm in Beardsley throughout the years. Tractor rides, farm chores, picking sweet corn, and lunch at Bobbi Jo’s Café built lasting memories with Grandpa.
After retirement, Rocky and Marilyn increased their already abundant gardens, giving copious amounts of produce to family, neighbors, friends and church fundraisers. The two grew sweet corn at the Beardsley farm and sold it from a little trailer on a Morris street corner. At age 80, Rocky taught himself to bake oatmeal cookies and excelled at his new hobby, baking for family, friends, and church fundraisers.
In 2016, Rocky lost a little steam following heart surgery and moved to assisted living with Marilyn. In 2017, Rocky broke the “good hip”, which landed him in a wheelchair at West Wind Village in Morris. After attempting escape 22 times in one day, Rocky was moved to a unit with more challenging escape options. Not to be outdone, Rocky bonded with the staff in the Rossberg Care Unit, and they became his family. Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, Rocky was separated from his beloved wife Marilyn and his children. During this difficult time, the staff at Rossberg cared for Rocky and kept the family in touch the best they could. Heartfelt thanks to the Rossberg staff at West Wind Village, with special gratitude to Kate (Dresch) Hagen, a dear Beardsley friend who became an extension of our family to keep us connected to Dad.
Rocky was very passionate about his Christian faith and the importance of tithing. He challenged many pastors during membership at Methodist and Lutheran Churches. Not content with the Protestants, Rocky befriended many Catholic priests and enjoyed engaging with people of all faith backgrounds.
Rocky was a 75-year member of the August Altheide Legion Post of Beardsley. At the time of his death, he was the last living WWII member of Post #302.
Rocky passed peacefully on Friday, February 12, 2021 at 5:50 a.m. at West Wind Village, Morris, 61 years sober.
Rocky is survived by his wife Marilyn, daughter Katherine (Robert) Guyer of Gainesville, FL, daughter Erna (Brad) Angell of Minneapolis, son James (Andrea) Allen of Eden Prairie, son Jon (Zinda) Allen of St. Cloud, daughter Julie (Tom) Crisp of St Paul, son Clifton (Cindy) Allen of Fergus Falls, son Vince (Gerry) Allen of Ramsey, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends. Rocky is preceded in death by his parents, Glenn and Irma, brother Ernie, sister Ellen, and grandson Derek Jon Allen.
Pedersen Funeral Home in Morris is in care of arrangements for Rock.
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