Allen Lee McAlear, 84, of Bozeman, said he was "done" and passed away at 5:30 a.m. Nov. 22, 2012 with a nurse and aides at his side. He had been a resident of various rehab centers after his car accident on April 2, 2011 and had been a resident of Bridger Rehab and Care Center since January 2012.
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Allen was born in Havre, Mont. on March 25, 1928 to James Harvey and Anastasia (Stasia) Lee McAlear. He was joined by his younger brother, James Harvey Jr. in a couple of years and they lived in Chester most of his grade school years until moving to Hillsboro, Ore. where he attended jr. high and then on to McMinnville, Ore. with his mother and brother. He attended all four years of HS there, joined the debate team, played tennis, received his pilots license, joined the Boy Scouts, and continued delivering papers as he had in Chester. WWII was a large influence on his young adult life. He joined the Civil Air Patrol and became a "spotter" for enemy planes two hours a day, three days a week in his senior year of HS. Al joined the Marines soon after graduation and was sent to Hawthorne, Nev. for basic training.
The war ended and Al received an honorable discharge after two years. He joined the Marine Reserve and began his college education. He went to the University of Nevada in Reno for one year taking pre-law. Then he transferred to the University of Oregon ("Go Ducks") for two more years of pre-law before enrolling in the Law School at Missoula in 1950 (while at the Univ. of Oregon he was an enthusiastic member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and was the social chairman of some notorious functions). He didn't have as much time for play in Missoula and felt the Law School was extremely tough. His summers were full of adventure, though, when he worked in Yellowstone Park and helped work on the Cooke City Hwy.
Al started playing bridge while there and was told that you needed 2 ½ tricks to open and 1 ½ to raise.
Allen Lee McAlear was accepted into the Montana State Bar October 1953 and soon after moved to Bridger, Mont. eager to follow in his father's footsteps who, by this time had his office in Red Lodge. Al moved to Bozeman in 1957, decided it would be his permanent home and started putting down roots to begin a long and successful career as an independent attorney-at-law taking on many interesting cases. He met people from all parts of Montana and many of them became his close friends. Al belonged to the Democrat Party, Valley View Golf Club, Bozeman Duplicate Bridge Club, The American Legion, The Eagles, Pi Kappa Alpha Alumni, played tennis, spent a lot of mornings at Bozeman Hot Springs and just enjoyed life thoroughly here in Bozeman. Al closed his office and retired not long after his 50th anniversary practicing law.
Allen L. McAlear married B.J. (Betty) Biehl Tweet on Dec. 28, 1988 in Reno, Nev. during a bridge tournament with B.J.'s mother – Betty Atwater Biehl and a few bridge friends in attendance. A trip to Kino Bay, Mexico after that was the beginning of another love affair for both of us and we spent many wonderful winters there playing and enjoying life. Fishing in the Sea of Cortez was exciting, but taking care of the catch of the day kept us from happy hour more than once. A lot of the time was spent exploring and taking day trips or short jaunts to nearby resort cities. Shopping was in Hermosillo, but Old Kino was great for every day trips.
Al's passion for competitive bridge (duplicate) took him to tournaments all over the U.S. and Canada. He achieved recognition nation-wide and became a Diamond Life Master in 2001. He could remember hands from years ago and who his partner was, too. Besides bridge, Al loved golf, and loved living by the VVGC because he had the privilege of driving his cart right on to the course when he had a game (often). He was a super sports fan, especially football "Go Bobcats" and "Go Ducks." He followed professional football and baseball and was a passionate Colorado Rockies fan. Al spent some time as the Democratic County Chairman during his early years in Bozeman and continued his support and encouragement to all Democratic candidates and leaders. Other interests were many including camping, fishing, boating, riding his motorcycle and finding someone to help him with the latest new-old machine he had purchased.
Allen was preceded in death by his father, mother and brother and numerous aunts and uncles and cousins. He is survived by his wife, B.J. (Betty); and her children, Brian Tweet and Brenda (Dan) Dahl and their children, Rian and Erin; Connie (Brad) Seymour and their children, Allison, Danny, Paula and Laura. His father remarried and Al has three sisters, Trudy (Pat) Elsberry, Susan (Mark) Rosser and Margaret (Margo) (Mark Dewart) McAlear; niece, Susan (Charlie) Baker and their children and numerous next-generation cousins.
We are so very grateful to the many who cared for him, struggled with him and encouraged him these last 20 months. Thanks just doesn't seem enough to all the caregivers at the Bridger Rehab and Care Center, the Southwest Hospice of Montana care team that were so kind, the doctors, PA's, nurses, therapists, social workers, all of you – thank you! A special thank you to Shauna at the VA Clinic for keeping him healthy the 10 years before his accident and to Janine at the Veterans Affairs office near Belgrade.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1 at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service with a reception following the service. Interment will be next summer at the Conrad Cemetery in Kalispell.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Nov. 28, 2012