Obituary: Allan Carlson, 91, of Ludington.

November 9, 2021

Allan Carlson

Obituary: Allan Carlson, 91, of Ludington.

Allan Marshall Carlson passed away after a full life on Friday, November 5, 2021, in Ludington at the age of 91.

Allan was born on October 14, 1930, in Duluth, Minnesota, the only child of Alice (Nelson) and Levine Carlson. He graduated from University of Minnesota Duluth in 1952 with a double major in chemistry and math and went on to earn a graduate degree in chemistry at University of Minnesota. 

He married his Duluth Central High School sweetheart Helen (Huttunen) in 1950. After moving to Midland, Michigan he began working for Dow Chemical Company as a chemist. He made a career at Dow, taking on various management roles in safety, operations, and training before his retirement in 1992.  During the 1950s and early 1960s, Allan and Helen welcomed three children into their family and eventually made their home in Ludington. After his career took them to Berea, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky for several years, they returned to Ludington in retirement. Allan’s children remember him as a kind and supportive father who believed in them and encouraged them to pursue their goals. His grandchildren fondly remember visits with “Beach Grandpa” in Ludington around Fourth of July, and the oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies he baked (with a chemist’s precision) that they dubbed “grandpa cookies”.

Allan had a life-long love for music!  Early evidence of his musical aptitude was that he was invited to attend both the morning and afternoon kindergarten classes at Lakeside School in Duluth because he could play the xylophone.  He added the accordion and string bass to his repertoire as a youth and picked up the string bass again in Midland as part of the Dow Symphony. There, he had fond memories of playing in the pit orchestra for musical productions such as Paint Your Wagon. He sang bass in the church choir in every church he attended over the years. While in Ludington he added the West Shore Community College choir and Men’s choir to his busy schedule. He had a delightful time in his one theater role in “The Music Man” at WSCC, with dialogue and dancing along with singing in the barber shop quartet. He sang with the church choir right up to the time of his death, and his voice remained clear and strong. He didn’t need much prompting to get out his accordion, and though he didn’t practice much he could play many songs by memory, including favorites such as “Two Guitars”, “Sharpshooters Polka”, and “Beer Barrel Polka.” 

Allan was an active and dedicated member of The United Methodist Church of Ludington. He served in many ways over the years including teaching Sunday school, leading the youth group, serving as lay leader, and on various administrative committees. He got an early start in community involvement and leadership, serving on his high school’s student council and the ethics committee that helped decide repercussions for minor student infractions. He continued that active service to the community throughout his life. He was a member (and president for a time) of the Ludington Area School District Board of Education, served on the board of the Ludington Public Library, and volunteered for 25 years at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital (formerly Memorial Medical Center).  He was honored by the latter in 2019 with its Justus and Paulina Stearns Legacy Award for his many contributions to the community and the hospital.  He also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of Mason County.  He showed his passion for supporting youth through his active membership in the Ludington Optimist Club and his work with Youth for Christ including as a board member.  One story he loved to tell was earning the distinction of being the oldest golfer to play 100 holes in one day in the annual Youth for Christ fundraiser.  

Allan and Helen enjoyed traveling together, especially after they retired.  They attended many Elder Hostel programs around the US and beyond, quenching their thirst for life-long learning, and had several wonderful visits in Colorado with dear friends from their Berea years.  They also loved visiting Door County, Wisconsin along with close friends from high school.  After Helen passed away, Allan continued to travel to Duluth to visit family and attend high school reunions, accompanied often by Karen.  

If Allan was in your car for any reason you most likely heard, “Does this car go down by the lake?”  Allan loved to go for rides as often as he could get someone to take him. Some of his favorite sites included his beloved Lake Michigan beach at Stearns Park, the Ludington State Park, and Hamlin Lake – Duneview. He took up golf in his 40s, taking lessons along with Eric, and enjoyed the game until recently. His last round was a few holes this past summer with Eric and Bob. Allan loved to tell stories, sharing favorites from his childhood often enough that most of his family could retell them. One of his favorites was at about age 8- getting up in the middle of the night to help his dad deliver milk, wearing a striped coverall his mom made him from a worn-out one of his dad’s. After they finished their delivery route they stopped for breakfast at Bowles Lunch in Duluth, and then went fishing together. He also had fond memories of time with his “uncle” Andrew Swanson at his cabin on Pike Lake, and with his cousin Nancy, whom he considered one of his best friends.  

Allan genuinely cared about people and wanted to get to know them. He saw the good in everyone. Here are some favorite quotes from a man who lived much of his life for others:

“A person wrapped up in themself makes a pretty small package.”
“Life’s a learning curve.”
“If you can learn to laugh at yourself, you’ll never run out of raw material.”

Allan was preceded in death by his beloved wife Helen; parents Alice and Levine Carlson; beloved sister-in-law and brother-in-law Elma and Ernie Petaja; dear cousin Nancy Browning; and son-in-law Phillip Witt.

He is survived by his children, Karen (Dennis) Genson, Kris Witt (Bob Dutton), and Eric (Cammie) Carlson; grandchildren, Sam (Kirsten) Genson, Sarah Genson, Amy (Melissa) Byerley, Maya Witt, Theo Witt, Emma Carlson, Maria Witt-Kelly (Matt Kelly), and Phoebe Carlson; great-grandchildren Grace, Sawyer, Charlotte and Quinn; nieces, Elaine Meier, Elinor Deemer, and Eileen (Terry) Hargrave and their families; cousins, Bob (Judy) Nelson, Sue (Ralph) Hulseman, and Mary Nemeth, as well as many lifelong friends, relatives and loving special friend and companion Judy Bach.  

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the United Methodist Church of Ludington 5810 East Bryant Road, Ludington, MI 49431, HELP-Ministry P.O. Box 97, Ludington, MI 49431, or Hart Community Performing Arts Association P.O. Box 7, Hart, MI 49420.

The family would like to thank the many people who provided loving care for Allan.

Allan’s life will be celebrated in 2022 when his beloved family and friends can gather safely to remember him. Details will be provided at that time.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington.

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