Part of the reason for me becoming an economist, especially one interested in transaction costs, is because of my dad. I recall him telling a story about a grain elevator owner. The elevator was old and run down, and it was decided to build a new one on the other side of the street.  After completion, the owner hired a man to burn the old elevator down in order he might collect the insurance. He told the arsonist to burn the elevator on the left as you came into town. Unfortunately, the man came in from the other direction, and burned the new elevator!

That story has all the elements of myth and folklore, and it probably isn't true, but it's an example of how my dad told stories. My dad passed away suddenly on January 11, 2004 from complications from a non-viral pneumonia. Below is the Eulogy I gave at his memorial, with a few pictures added.


                                                                                                 A. W. "Bud" Allen
                                                                                     April 13, 1932 - January 11, 2004

My Dad

In the scheme of things, the death of a 71 year old man is an ordinary event. But for my mom, my brother, my wife, my children, for me, and for most of us here,  the passing of my father is a great loss.   The loss is great because my dad was a good man, in the fullest sense of the word “good.” He was a good friend, a good employee, a good husband, a good grandpa, and a good dad. Today  I want to celebrate my dad’s life, I want to take a few moments to recall who he was, to remember him publicly, and  to pay tribute to him.
 Who was my dad?

First, my dad was a farm boy from Saskatchewan. That  experience forged in him a sense of justice, fairness, and liberty. It made him independent and brave, a lover of the out doors, and of hard work. It made him adventurous, and  a man who was willing to try almost anything once.

Growing up on a Saskatchewan homestead seemed to give my dad a lot of common sense. He was always able to assess a situation  quickly and accurately. Throughout my life I recall people constantly asking  his advice. In my own life I’ve tapped into that wisdom many times, and I wonder how I’ll fare without it now.

In his youth my dad grew to love animals: parrots, cats, dogs, ferrets, weasels, horses, and especially cows. He grew up with cows, he talked to them, he brushed them, and in the end he longed to see the cows around the lake on his Saskatchewan homestead. …He hated pigs.

Every summer of his early life was spent clearing farmland.   As a result my dad loved to clear land. He loved to pick sticks and rocks, and loved to cut trees down.   My brother and I, who often had to pick sticks with him,  never shared this sentiment.

Growing up during the depression gave my dad specific tastes. My dad loved spicy food, red meat, ice cream, and lemon pie. He loved to travel, fish, and fly in a small airplane. My dad loved to lay in the sun, and he was never without a suntan. My dad loved nice clothes.

Who was my dad?

Well, second, my dad was a strong character. He had strong opinions on just about everything. He  loved to talk religion and politics. He loved to argue, and I have always enjoyed arguing with him.  When he was sick in November he told me, in complete seriousness,  that he thought he’d won most of our debates and that I was just too stubborn to realize it …  I disagreed with that.

My dad had a great sense of humor, even up to the end. Over Christmas he managed to  fulfill a lifelong dream and bought a ferret … much against the wishes of his wife. When he went into the hospital for the last time he was laying in emergency and with a twinkle in his eye he said “I guess the ferret was a mistake.”

My dad had a great deal of self control.  I have seen him mad several times, but I’ve never seen him lose control. Never once in my entire life did he ever yell at me.
Who was my dad?

Third, my dad was a builder. My dad had an eye for design. He knew how high a shed wall should be, where a window should go on a building, and no one could design a better hip roof rafter.  He taught me how to properly make a board fence, how to mix concrete, how to build a barn, and he tried many times, with increasing frustration,  to teach me  how to use his transit … my brother was a little better at that than I was.  
[me and my dad 1973]   [me and my dad 2001]

My dad could build lots of things,  and I’ll always have the image of him in his white hard hat around the farm, but  he couldn’t sand a piece of wood if his life depended on it.  He just had no patience for fine wood working. The funny thing was, he always wanted to do it. After a while he started to think he just didn’t have the right tools or space. He built a great shop, and put some nice tools in it, but the output was still the same. In October the two of us went to the wood show, and he was still looking for the magic tool which would allow him to sand some wood properly.

In the same vein my dad always wanted to learn how to play the guitar. When he was younger he thought it would be a great way to meet girls. Later in life he bought a guitar and lessons,  but like sanding he never had the patience for music.

Who was my dad?

Fourth, my dad loved exercise. He went to aerobics right up until the end. He loved hard work because it was exercise. He did chin ups in the rafters of the barn when he would feed the cows. That always impressed my kids when they were little. We’d be driving home from a Sunday dinner and they would say “Dad! grandpa is sooo strong. He can hang from the roof of his barn.”

My dad loved to exercise so much that when he was baptized in the Fort Langley pool, he actually swam laps while the others were being immersed. He loved to ride bikes and walk his dog.  He belonged to hiking clubs, and skied downhill and cross-country.  
I need to digress a little and talk about my dad’s skiing. My dad was a   dangerous skier. He couldn’t go down a hill without falling, hitting someone, jumping from the chair, breaking a pole, or going over a cliff.   He liked to minimize the number of turns on a run, and generally skied straight down. The problem was, he couldn’t stop. Skiing with my dad was always an adventure, and  I treasure the memories of skiing with him and my  kids.

My dad loved to wrestle, and he had a lot of wrestling stories. My one regret I have with my dad has to do with wrestling. Growing up we always wrestled, and he always won. When I was 16 we were wrestling and I managed to get on his back. I put him in a scissors lock with my legs, and a head lock with my arms. As we tossed around, I secretly managed to get my foot pinned between the fireplace and TV, and try as he might, he could not break free. He surrendered for the first time. We got up, looked at each other, and we never wrestled again. I should have told him I won by a fluke.

Who was my dad?

Well, fifth, my dad was a person who  related well to other people. My dad was a wonderful grandpa. He loved my kids so much. He went to their concerts, baptisms, soccer games, gymnastic competitions, piano recitals,  … you name it. He held them, talked to them, praised them, and passed on his heritage to them. He never met them or said good bye to them, without hugging and kissing them.  I regret my dad won’t be around for my kids anymore, but I’m thankful they were able to know him as closely as they did.

My dad was a great friend. Larry Johnson, Don Meeres, Larry Martin, Don Gray, Ian Walker, are just a few of his good friends,  but the list goes on. I was trying to think of someone who was my dad’s friend for a time, but then fell out of favor. I couldn’t think of any.  When my dad made a friend, he seemed to make them for life.

My dad was a surrogate father to my wife who lost her dad many years ago. He was also a father figure to a number of others, some of whom I’ve only found out about in the last two weeks.

Who was my dad?

Sixth, my dad always said he was lucky in life, but in the last month of his life, he changed that and said  he  was blessed.

There’s no question, my dad was lucky in falls.

No one could fall and land like my dad. I’ve seen him fall from trees, ladders, roofs, ladders, ski lifts, and more ladders. At 60 he fell off the roof of his new barn. Two years ago my dad was helping me put the gyproc on the 10 foot ceiling of my shop. We were both on ladders, and the sheet began to shift. When it became clear we couldn’t hold it, I made a dive for safety. When I turned around, there was my 70 year old dad, laying on the concrete floor. He lay there for a moment, … and then up he sprang.   

My dad was blessed  in love. He told me many times that his life would never have been worth anything had he not married my mother. They were always together, but freely allowed each other their own interests. I’m sure they had their troubles, but I can only remember them fighting once in front of me, and they stopped when I asked them to. I’ll never forget how beautiful the moment was when my mom said good bye to my dad.

My  dad was blessed in finances. His investments always seemed to work out in his favor.  My dad was also very generous with his wealth, and he knew it was God’s doing not his own.  

I think my dad was lucky in death. Some people die suddenly and never get an opportunity to say good-bye. Others get sick and have a steady slide to the end, and  the hope of getting better often prevents them from assessing life until it is too late. My dad got his first brush with death when he was trapped in the fire. In November he was knocking on death’s door with pneumonia.  For the last two weeks of December my dad was well enough, and aware enough of death, that he only wanted to embrace life and talk about what that which truly mattered.   

What mattered?

He talked endlessly about the importance of his family, how proud he was of Mom, Jim, Gayle, his grandchildren, and me.

He talked about his friends, his family in Saskatchewan, his early years, and all the people who crossed his path. He was grateful for all of them.

He talked about his career, and how God placed a few key people in his way and saved him from a life of manual labor for a satisfying career in engineering.

He talked about God constantly. About his early negative experiences in church, and of how Pastor Tom Mercer changed his life by finally presenting the gospel in a way he could understand and relate to.  He felt that God saved him in November and that He had done so for a purpose.

 One night he looked at me and said “I want to talk about our relationship.”   That sentence led to a very exceptional talk with my dad. My dad told me how he felt about me.     I told him what he meant to me. I told him I was always proud of him, that I thought he was a great dad, that I tried to be a father and husband  like him, that I didn’t have a single bad memory of our life together,  and that I loved him with all my heart.   In the end he said “Thank you. Maybe I went through all of this just for this conversation.”

Who was my dad?

The most important fact about my dad is that he was a Christian.

We live in a corrupt and imperfect world. A world where all kinds of bad things happen. Everyone dies, and many die too young. Many lives are tragic, and even for my dad who had  a great life, the end was awful, and he was a very young man for his age.

I’m tempted to cry out it isn’t fair. But “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” Furthermore “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - A time to give birth, and a time to die.”

The good news is there’s a way out. The way out doesn’t stop the death and the suffering, but it gives us comfort and  hope. There is peace in the promise of an everlasting life. My dad found that way out and found the everlasting life. God had always been at work in his life, and finally in his 60s my dad found Jesus Christ as his personal  savior. We know that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Because of all this I can not only enjoy the memories of my dad,  I can also look forward to the future,  knowing that one day I’ll see my good dad again.

                                                                                           Our Good Dad

                                                           Our Good Dad