Honoring a legacy of service and compassion

American Legion members Tom Givan, Ron Ingram and Dick Smith perform full military rites in memory of Art Allison on Thursday at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Co-workers from Walmart, friends from the American Legion and throughout the community teamed up to raise money to hold a special ceremony and provide a memorial monument.

HANNIBAL — Art Allison left a lasting impression on everyone he met, from his service entertaining fellow servicemen in the USO to the years he shared with his friends at Walmart and the American Legion.

He passed away on Dec. 18, and a private service was held. Afterward, several of those close to Allison teamed up to provide a service with military rites performed by American Legion Post 55. Deanne Utterback organized fundraising efforts among fellow Walmart co-workers, Bruce and Jeanne Brosi of Hannibal Monument Company assisted with the gravestone and Jimmy O’Donnell arranged the service officiated by Pastor Tim Goodman.

Jess Ornelas, representing American Legion Post 55, thanked everyone who made the service possible, including Barb Neff and fellow American Legion members Dick Smith, Jim Miller and Tom Givan Allison’s co-worker and fellow veteran, Carlos Davis, accepted the American flag from members of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard. He will bring the flag to Allison’s niece, Inez Allison, in Las Vegas, Nev.

Davis joined many close to Allison in remembering the joy he shared with a joke and his talent for entertaining, which began when he started playing piano by ear at the age of five.

Davis said Allison’s death was sudden, and he took part in the group effort to carry out plans the way they thought he would have wanted. Allison was well-known throughout Hannibal, by American Legion members and co-workers, and Davis said many people gave to make the service possible.

And he’ll always remember the gift of music Allison shared with co-workers, customers and friends, including playing on the pianos each Christmas in the store.

“He would play those pianos like nobody else,” Davis said. “He was a man of many things. I found out he used to work with the USO in the service back in Hawaii, he played music, danced, sang — an entertainer.”

Don Giltner worked with Allison for five years in the Lawn and Garden Department, and he said they shared many memories together as well.

“My favorite time of the day was 2 o’clock when he came in. And I’d always go out in the parking lot, and I saw his vehicle,” Giltner said. “He would always ask me what was going on inside. So we would share a laugh, and I’d tell him all the silly things that happened. To me, it was a very comforting time out there.”

Two members of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard performed the flag ceremony, before presenting the flag to Davis. The American Legion also presented a special coin in recognition of Allison’s service.

American Legion members Tom Givan, Ron Ingram and Dick Smith performed the traditional three-volley salute and Ornelas played Taps. Utterback felt glad to be a part of the service and honor Allison and his lasting legacy of joy, laughter and music.

“I’m just happy that he got to be celebrated the way that he should have been,” Utterback said.

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