Alvina Rose Allen

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Alvina Rose Allen, 74, of Great Falls, died of heart disease Thursday, May 10, at Benefis Hospital.

Rosary is 7 p.m. today at Sacred Heart Church in Fort Belknap. Services are 11 a.m. Tuesday at Harlem High School, burial to follow in Harlem Cemetery.

Alvina (Gardipee) Allen lived life to its fullest. Never one to let grass grow under her feet, she was active in numerous groups and organizations. She will be dearly missed by the lay ministry group of the Ursuline Centre of Great Falls, MAIWHC-Montana American Indian Women's Health Coalition, Fort Belknap Forestry and the board of directors of the Indian Family Health Clinic.

Devoted public servant, Alvina was a sitting council member of the Little Shell Tribe of Montana, board member of Garden Grove Condo Association, previous member of the Harlem Ambulance crew and current EMT for IMSM (Incident Medical Specialist) for the U.S. Forest Service, fighting fires each season.

Alvina was born August 28, 1937, to Martin and Josephine (Gardiner) Gardipee. The baby of seven children, Vina was guarded by brothers Charlie, George, Martin (Buzzy) and Edward Gardipee. She was also pampered by sisters Ruby (McGillvary) and Edna (Azure) Gardipee. Alvina graduated from Chinook High School in 1955 and at 19 entered the U.S. Navy. While in the Navy, she married Walter Dirden, and after an honorable discharge, she had three children: Desiree, Leanne, and Martin. Later, they divorced and she returned to Montana in 1964, where she soon began her career in the Indian Health Service of Fort Belknap. While raising her three young children, she worked many position in IHS including nurse's aide, medical records, maintenance and finally supply, where she settled until her retirement in 1994.

On March 13, 1970, she married Arnold Allen. Through this union, Dora was born and they jointly ran a successful construction business, as well as up to 300 head of cattle until their "retirement" in 2006. Although Alvina retired, she never stopped working. She loved to sub at Harlem Schools, and each summer looked forward to pack testing firefighters and working as an incident medical specialist for Incident Management Teams of the U.S. Forest Service on large forest fires and other major incidents, like the hurricanes in Florida and the tragedy of the space shuttle Columbia.

She is survived by daughters Desiree (Jerome) Bell, Leanne (Kris) Hedstrom, Dora (Mark) Leo and son Marty (Roxian) Dirden. She was also blessed with 16 grandchildren, 4.75 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Alvina was preceded in death by her parents; husband Arnold Allen; brothers George, Charlie and Martin Gardipee; and sisters Edna Azure and Ruby McGillvary.

A devoted daughter, sister, mother, grandmother and aunt, she will be missed by all her loved ones. Those who have been blessed to know her can attest to her faith, and be at peace knowing she is with her Lord and family in Heaven. Rest in peace mom/grandma!

Donations may be sent to the Ursuline Centre of Great Falls or the Little Shell Tribe of Montana.

Condolences may be posted online at

Published in Great Falls Tribune from May 13 to May 14, 2012
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