|Delbert "Buster" Allen, 91, chief master sergeant U.S. Air Force
(ret.), beloved husband of Eleanore Allen, died Oct. 17, 2009, at
Campbell Lake Assisted Living.
A funeral Mass will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Patrick's Church, 2111 Muldoon Road. A reception will follow at Hilton Garden Inn Anchorage, C Street and Tudor Road. Interment with full military honors will be at 2:30 p.m. Monday at Fort Richardson National Cemetery.
Buster was born Sept. 27, 1918, in Bellair, Mich.
Buster met his devoted wife of 65 years, Eleanore O'Brien, at a dance in 1936. They married in Detroit, Mich., in 1944 and began a married life that would have them living in Europe, the United States and the Territory of Alaska. In 1949, they celebrated the birth of their only child, Brandon.
Buster was a Pearl Harbor survivor with a distinguished military career of nearly 30 years. During World War II, he fought in both the Pacific and European theaters, ending the war as a ball turret gunner on a "Bridge Busters" B-25, flying missions over Germany. Buster was then stationed in Germany as part of the Army of Occupation. He earned many commendations, including the Legion of Merit, Air Medal with silver cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal and Army Commendation Medal. He was in the first group of airmen promoted to the rank of chief master sergeant and was the youngest of that group.
Buster fulfilled a boyhood dream when the U.S. Air Force sent him to Alaska in 1957 to inspect White Alice radar sites on the remote portions of the western and northern coast of Alaska. He took full advantage of Alaska's outdoors activities well into his late 70s.
In 1958, he became a member of the Alaska Chapter of the National Ski Patrol and in 1960 was named Ski Patrolman of the Year. He secured funding for the first snow-making equipment in Alaska, which was installed at Elmendorf AFB's Hillberg Ski Area. Later he was instrumental in Hillberg's building two ski jumps. As a coach, he led the boys and girls of the Hillberg Ski Team to competitions in Fairbanks and Homer. In recognition of his many contributions, the racing trail at Hillberg was named The Allen Trail in his honor.
Buster was an avid fisherman and hunter. Returning from Germany in 1951, he brought some of the first Mepps spinners into the United States. In 1966, he introduced rafting to the Kenai River by launching a small Avon Redshank and exploring the section of river between Kenai Lake Bridge and Skilak Lake. Buster reminisced that his maiden float on the river was greeted by bankside anglers yelling, "Look at those nuts in a life raft." His legendary ability to catch salmon earned him the nickname "Sure Shot."
In 1966, Buster and Paul Pruitt built a summer compound at Sportsman's Lodge that is now the Kenai River Ferry Campground, which the family enjoyed until 1978. In 1980, he built a log home in Cooper Landing on the bank of the Upper Kenai. In 1982, it became the summer home for Buster and Eleanor for the next 27 years. The cabin's Tyrolean-styled balcony with red salmon balusters is a well-known landmark.
In retirement, they spent winter months in Florida dancing, golfing and playing cards. Buster became an award-winning diamond willow carver, focusing on intricately detailed walking sticks and canes.
Buster is survived by his loving wife, Eleanore; his son, Brandon and wife Sandy Allen; brothers, David Allen and Dell and wife Kathy Allen; sister, Lynn Allen; grandchildren, Kimberly and husband Greg Scully, Tristan and husband Brian Johnson, Spencer Allen and wife Jenny Snider, Kevin Allen, Steve and wife Katrina Walters, Carren Walters, and Christa Brown; great-grandchildren, Madeline and Julia Scully, Max, Maggie, Evelyn and Simon Johnson, Emmy Grimes, Kylie Foreman, Stephanie and Troy Walters, Zachary Brown and Caitlin Walters.
Special thanks to Pat Edmonds and her staff and residents at Campbell Lake Assisted Living for the loving care they showed Buster during his final days.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Buster's name to Cooper Landing Emergency Services, P.O. Box 510, Cooper Landing 99572.