A tribute to Jesse Austin Allison, August 3, 1940 ~ March 6, 2020.
Jesse was born to Mildred Pearl Johnson of Sweet Springs, Missouri, and Jesse Elton Allison of Oak Hill, Kansas. He was born in Fort Benton, Choutea County, Montana. He had two brothers, Virgil and Donald R., and later a sister, Bonita May.
Jess quit school at 13, immediately going to work for Geisler Agricultural Manufacturing in Benton. Irv Geisler started him out sweeping shop floors, properly. Jess quickly moved up to welding and foreman. He designed a welder’s helmet on his off time and Irv was impressed and patented it! Finding that a foreman didn’t do much hands-on welding, Jess left, starting a few small businesses of roofing, excavating, and tree service.
At 17, Jess enlisted in the U.S. Army where he got his GED, certification in welding, body and fender, and mechanics. He was a welding instructor, Guidon bearer and Barbered for $.50 a head!
At 18, he married, and in 1960, his “Gicker” or Vickie Marie was born. Soon he was raising a family of 4: Vickie, Valerie Ann, Andy and Stan. He moved to Coos Bay, OR, with his family for a short time before returning to MT.
In 1965, Jesse moved to Billings where he worked for Roscoe Steel, Eddy’s Ornamental, and Frank’s Welding. Becoming restless to do his own thing, he told Frank, who offered him a portable machine, “If you think you really can make a living on your own, take this for a month. I will sell it to you on payments if you want it still.” At the end of a month with a handshake and a smile, Jess handed Frank $20,000 cash. Big Sky Welding was born in the driveway at Parkhill Drive. Jess paid cash for all of his big equipment and soon opened the business at the stockyards. Working day and night alone, his first job was building fences, chutes, and gates in time for the stockyard’s big sale. It wasn’t long before Big Sky Welding became a business farmers and ranchers called for by name along with many other business owners and the public. His custom bumpers and grill guards were displayed in Frontier Chevy’s showroom. He loved designing, as well as doing iron art, cowboys and western scenes such as cowboys at campfire or around a poker table. I never figured out how those big hands cut out tiny cards for the table! Jess liked to say he could weld anything but a broken heart; maybe not with a torch, but he healed mine. Jesse Allison was certified and cleared by the Federal Government to weld on the Minute-Man nuclear missile silos underground near Great Falls. He loved his work and it was his passion. He was the best there ever was. Jess was one of two guys in the state who could successfully use borium on horse shoes and make it last. The Belgian horse hitch representing Montana at the inaugural parade in Washington D.C. had Jess’ shoes.
When Jesse wasn’t working, he loved racing stock cars, advertising Big Sky Welding, and riding in the Rainmakers motorcycle club, becoming president for a short while. Jess and Lori owned ½ Arab horses and loved to ride. He built a sleigh for “The Reverend P. Spooner” to pull. Jess loved to play cards, bowl, fish, hunt and camp. His last mule deer buck was one shot at 500 yards, (no lie) using the 243 Winchester open sites that his father gave him.
Jess Allison was an amazing man. Though small in stature, he was a big, big man. Jess was a Golden Glove boxer. When he made it to fighting in Chicago, he laid his gloves down after seeing another boxer, he knew, acting strangely and out of character. Though he had a wild past being fighter, drinker, and daredevil, his 40 years with me only showed loving, forgiveness, and compassion. As of September 2019, Jess had 41 years of sobriety.
He loved his children, he loved his grandkids and he loved me. I met Jess 40 years ago in March. I was so attracted to his brown eyes and muscular build, but more than that, his honesty and integrity. His focus was helping others and rebuilding his life. We became life partners May 1, 1981. We had Jesse Justin and Mary Rose, loving them dearly. He gave us a safe secure stable home, supporting us with rental properties and Jess’ Small Engine Repair. There will never be another like him. When he could no longer pick up a wrench and work, he began to fade. Then, my Jesse slowly gave up and gave in to the cancer. Jesse died at home where he wanted to be on March 6 around 1 p.m. He had been loved by his daughter Mary (Robert) and children, son Jesse (Linda), daughter Val, granddaughter Jennifer and his two Chihuahuas, Missy and Jimmy.
And of course, me. We will see you again, my forever love. Lori.
The funeral service will be held Thursday, March 12, 11:00 a.m. at Heights Family Funeral Home with lunch to follow. Burial will be in Huntley.