Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Big Brother I Never Knew

Robert Jerry Allagree was the oldest of my four brothers, actually half-brothers.  Today is the 30th anniversary of his death in 1979, at age 51.

I first knew of him when I was in middle school.  My sister, Pat, called him "Bobby" at the time, but later he was called "Bob".  Since then I've learned only a very few things about him:

- He was born November 11, 1927, in Indianapolis, IN, to my father Robert Joseph Allagree and his first wife, Verda Mae Beal, who died of tuberculosis eight years later, in 1935.
- He grew up with his and my sister, Pat, at St. Joseph's Orphanage, Dayton, OH, staffed by the Sisters of the Precious Blood, the same order of nuns which staffed the elementary school in Troy, OH, which I attended for five years.  Bob's was not a happy childhood in the orphanage, as I've learned from my sister, nor was hers.
- He applied for a Social Security number in December, 1942, when he was 15.
- He served in the U.S. Navy, though I have no records of dates, etc., only a copy of a picture of him in uniform, with the inscription to my sister, Pat: "To The Most Wonderful Sister in the World.  Your bro-, Bob."
- He was a handsome young man, judging from copies of the pictures which my sister gave me several years ago.  I can see certain features which we had in common, for example, a broad smile. 
- He was, according to my sister, definitely a "ladies' man", just as our father was. The picture above was taken when he was 27.  My guess is that he especially, among the boys in the family, inherited the charm and the con which our father excelled in: a James Dean-esque sort of thing.  A good looking bad boy.  My sister saw him only occasionally in adult life.  She intimated, when I first contacted her, that Bob moved around a lot.  One year she admitted that she hadn't heard from him in a long time, but that he was still alive, as far as she knew.  Then she added, "Of course, there may be a lot of angry husbands out there by now!"
- According to my sister, he had married a woman named Phyllis, a fact which I've not been able to verify so far, and had two children, Jerry and Diane. Pat had a high school picture of each of the children which she shared with me.  
- Bob  died on February 28, 1979, in Los Angeles County, CA.  His last residence is listed as Long Beach, CA.  His last benefit is listed as La Habra, CA, in Orange County.

We entrust our brother, Bob, into the loving hands of God,
who alone is holy and just and good, 
and we commend him to God's mercy, forgiveness, and love, 
in the sure and certain hope of resurrection to unending life
in the presence of the Risen Christ.  Amen.

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