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Allen William Myers

January 03, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Allen William Myers, who died Dec. 28 at the age of 84. His obituary appeared in the Dec. 31 edition of The Herald-Mail.

By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- People often are remembered for the things they have said.

Allen William Myers' family remembers him for the many things he did not say.

"Without a doubt, I never heard him say anything mean about anyone, ever," said his daughter, Lana Moore. "And I never heard him raise his voice."

"He never did," said Allen's wife, Marian Myers, 78.

The two suspect Allen inherited his kind nature and admirable self-control from his mother.

"I think it was the way he was raised," said Lana, 59, of Boonsboro. "My daddy had very fond memories of his childhood and the way he was brought up."

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Allen was born in 1924 near Burnside Bridge and grew up in Antietam.

His grandfather spent time with Allen crafting toy canal boats and other trinkets from wood. Allen always loved fishing. As a 10- or 11-year-old boy, he earned money by selling bait to fishermen who came from the city.

"He would go out in boats and guide them, show them where to fish," Lana said.

Allen spent his adolescence working in local orchards. He worked briefly for Fairchild Aircraft, then was drafted in 1943 to serve in World War II. He became a paratrooper with the U.S. Army's 17th Airborne Division.

Allen's military service became a source of family lore and pride. Allen was badly wounded in his left arm during the Battle of the Bulge on Friday, Jan. 5, 1945. According to family accounts as well as a written history by R. Frognier, Allen was left alone, bleeding profusely. Frognier said the frigid temperature caused the blood on Allen's wound to freeze.

After dark, he stole into woods occupied by other GIs. He did not have a password to enter the unit's camp, and they feared he might be the enemy. Finally, Allen received clearance to enter. He received first aid, underwent surgery in a barn and was transferred to a hospital in Paris, then to another in England. Meanwhile, the Army sent a telegram to Allen's mother stating he had been missing in action for a month.

"His mother always had total faith he was alive," Marian said.

His mother's intuition proved right, and Allen returned home with a Purple Heart weeks later.

Back at home, Allen began working at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg. He met a local girl, Mary Fern Bowers of Sharpsburg, and the two married in 1948. In 1949, they had their first and only child, Lana.

"Daddy was always the person I depended on to do things for me," Lana said.

Lana shared an incident that happened when she was a teenager to illustrate her father's patience and presence of mind.

"My mother was away. I decided to dye my hair," Lana said. The results were startling.

"I was so upset. My dad got the Tide out. He put my head in the sink ... and scrubbed my head. A lot of it came out," Lana said. "He was absolutely my hero."

Allen met hardship again in 1969, when at just 39 years old, Mary, his wife and the mother of his child, died of pancreatic cancer. Allen went on working and caring for his family. He buddied around with his namesake, grandson James Allen "Jamey" Moore. Lana said Allen and Jamey were "as close as close can be."

"Daddy would take Jamey fishing when he was a little fellow," she said. "He introduced him to a lot of experiences."

Lana recalled one time when she arrived home and discovered she had a skunk in her house.

"I called my daddy to get it out," she said.

Another time, she ran out of gas in her car.

"Instead of calling my husband, I called daddy," she said. "He never yelled, never said anything. All he said was, 'I told you, girl, you need to keep gas in here.'"

After he had been single for 12 years, Allen met and married Marian Rockwell Myers.

"I was struck by his kindness. I had never met anyone that kind. I had never known anyone that kind," Marian said. "I mean, you know, most people flare up over something. He didn't."

Marian said Allen was eager to help out other people.

"If anyone asked him for anything, he was not the kind to say, 'I'll get to it.' He did it immediately," Marian said. "Sometimes I'd say, 'Oh! You don't need to do it right now,' but he would be done."

Following his retirement in 1982, Allen helped friends and family with projects large and small, read biographies and war-themed books, and fished as often as he was able -- preferably every day. He and Marian traveled to England, France and Hawaii, and visited Disney World twice. He rekindled relationships with old war buddies and made new friends at Army reunions.

About 10 years ago, a young woman named Ann contacted Allen. She was the daughter of Lt. Leslie H. Telesca, Allen's commanding officer during the war. Though commanding officers were advised against befriending subordinates, Telesca and Allen had become friends. Allen had been the last person to speak with Telesca before he died of injuries.

Two weeks after her father's death, Ann was born. Allen eagerly shared memories of Telesca with Ann. She visited Allen's home twice, and called him every year on Veterans Day and Memorial Day to sustain their common bond.

Marian and Allen moved from Sharpsburg to Martinsburg in 2000. True to his kind ways, Allen took up feeding the deer outside of his house every day at 5 p.m.

"He would go to Shepherdstown (W.Va.) to buy them corn, all shucked," Marian said.

These days, Marian said the deer gather near the house looking for Allen. Surely they are not the only ones who will miss his kindness.

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