Allen John Raver died Feb. 7. He was 93. His family provided the following.
Allen John Raver was born Feb. 16, 1926, in Hot Springs, South Dakota, to Margaret Ceicel “Warren” Raver and Miles Joshua Raver, the oldest son of six children and their adopted cousin Bonnie.
Allen grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota during the Great Depression and, as he put it, “We were poor, but we didn’t know it because we had it better than most of the country.” There was extraordinarily little money, but what they did have was a strong family with three generations under one roof. On the ranch, Allen’s grandfather tended a 2-acre garden, and raised chickens and pigs to eat and beef to sell with the help of the children.
Allen was 15 years old on Dec. 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan, sparking the start of the United States’ involvement in World War II. He wanted to enlist in the Marines immediately, but it took a year to convince his parents to sign the papers and lie, saying he was older than he was. He was 16 years old when he enlisted and 17 when he left home for boot camp. Allen was the best marksman out of three units and was awarded “Top Shot.” That feat not only saved his life on three occasions but also won his drill instructor a $300 bet and earned him his private first class stripe in boot camp — something he was immensely proud of throughout his life.
After basic training Allen was assigned to the 2nd Rocket Detachment, 2nd Marine Division, and was sent on the invasion of Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa. On one occasion his ship was hit by a kamikaze pilot, and orders were given to abandon ship. The entire division floated around in the Pacific Ocean for a day while the enemy continued aerial attacks on the fleet.
Another time, Allen’s truck was hit by a mortar. His unit pulled back, leaving Allen and another Marine with the truck to protect its rockets, and a bazooka team was sent in to reinforce them. That night Japanese soldiers launched a banzai attack. The next morning over 70 dead enemy soldiers lay within 100 yards of Allen’s foxhole. Allen was wounded in combat at 19 years old, almost losing his right arm and sending him to a military hospital for months to recuperate. The war was over, but for Allen it was never finished. For the next 74 years the dreams and emotions lived with him, and the war was the topic of many of his stories.
After the war, Allen was 40% disabled, but you would never have known it. He never complained, saying a lot of guys had it worse that he did.
“My time with the Marines was exciting for a young man,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world, but I also wouldn’t want to do it again.”
After Allen was discharged from the military, he finished high school and went on to college in Kansas City, Missouri, to become a dentist. His VA doctor told him that he needed to find a profession where he would use his right arm often or he would be a one-armed dentist. So Allen decided instead to go to trade school to be an electrician.
Allen returned to the Black Hills. At the time, he couldn’t find work as an electrician, so he worked as a logging truck driver and a blackjack dealer in Blackie’s Night Club. Eventually Allen hired on as a laborer for the construction of hydroelectric dams. Fort Randall and Angostura dams were a couple that he worked on.
Allen met his future wife, Margaret Ann Eininger, in Casper after breaking into her apartment and falling asleep on the couch. A friend of Allen’s was dating her roommate and could not find her key. They were married on June 17, 1954, at Grace Lutheran Church in Fargo, North Dakota.
During their first years of marriage, Allen worked construction in Casper, on the Dave Johnson Power Plant, as the foreman for Kelly Walsh High School and on many homes in that area. Margaret’s career was as a teacher, which was the perfect job for her. They welcomed their first child in 1960, Timothy John Raver, and another son, Jeffrey Allen Raver, in 1963.
In 1966 the Raver family moved to Jackson, where Margaret began teaching and Allen worked various construction jobs until starting Frontier Construction with his friend Roland Duffy. Allen helped build Lake Lodge in Yellowstone National Park, the Tram Tower and the Alpenhof at Teton Village, and many homes in the area. After retirement he never stopped; he worked on his rental and investment properties and always had a project going on.
Horses were always a part of Allen’s life. At one time in Casper he had 32 brood mares, all in foal. That was a huge driving force in his decision to move to Jackson, as he wanted horse property. No matter what time of year he was always glad to see the Tetons and would say how lucky he was to live in such a beautiful place.
He always enjoyed being outside. Hunting, fishing, riding horses and camping were among his favorite activities. He also liked classic cars and collected quite a few. Favorites were a blue 1929 Ford Model A Roadster and a red 1952 Pontiac Chieftain convertible. It was his honor and pleasure to drive brides to their weddings in one of his classics.
Allen became a member of the “Romeo Club” (Retired Old Men Eating Out) at Bubba’s and the Virginian Cafe, and he made friends wherever he went. For the past few years he resided at Legacy Lodge in Jackson and the Homestead Living Center in Rexburg Idaho. On Feb. 7, just nine days short of his 94th birthday, with his son Jeff at his side, Allen left this world.
Allen was preceded in death by his loving wife, Margaret Anne Raver; sister Ellen and her husband, Edward Haven, of Casper; sister Hallie Ellerton and her husband, Alvin, of Custer, South Dakota; brother Miles “Chuck” Raver, of Federal Way, Washington; brother Alfred “Wink” Raver, of Casper; and cousin Bonnie Francos and her husband, Bill, of Soda Springs, Idaho.
He is survived by his son Tim Raver and his wife, Cathy; his son Jeff Raver and his wife, Marilyn; grandchildren Chad and Danielle Raver, Chelsea and Garrett Point, and Travis and Trenton Walters; and great-grandchildren Colter Neilson, Roux Raver, and Tristan and Aurora Walters.
As per Allen’s wishes, he was cremated and will be placed in special locations. His family would like to thank his many friends who blessed his life for so many years. There is a very special documentary about his life for the Veterans History Project at Vimeo.com/188905575 for anyone who would like to watch it.
A celebration of life for Allen is set for 2 p.m. July 25 at 622 Saddle Drive in Nordic Ranches, Etna, Wyoming. Come early, stay late.