Memorial Service, written and delivered by Cherie Hopkins

We've come here this afternoon for several purposes. First, we are here to celebrate the life of Allene Roberta Phillips Cline. And we've come to mourn her loss to us. A funeral service such as this is a safe place to feel what we feel and show what we feel. And we've come both to receive and offer comfort to one another in a time of great sorrow.

Today the music we hear will be from one of Allene's favorite singers. Allene loved music. She rarely watched television, Richard says. For her, entertainment was music. Her eldest grandson describes watching his grandmother "jammin'" in the kitchen or laundry room as she worked. Today, the plaintive notes of this tune she loved lends itself well to our time together.

(Musical Interlude)

At the Great Wall of China, Japanese tourists wanted their pictures taken with her. In Java, school children at a zoo followed her around as she looked at the animals. They must have thought she was more interesting.

She was, as you know, a striking woman. Five-feet-eleven-inches tall with lovely silver hair, she towered above many of the people whose countries she visited. Because of her sensitivity to the sun, she was usually dressed in high collared, long sleeved shirts and pants with a wide brimmed hat shading her face. And on that face were her trademark big, colorful glasses. Add to this her devotion to bright colors and it's easy to see why the children in Java and the Japanese tourists were fascinated by the very sight of her.

And over her lifetime, many people in many countries caught sight of Allene because she loved to travel. The young Arkansas woman married a man whose jobs would take them literally all over the world. Over the next 56 years she and Richard drove all over the western United States. They lived in many places. They traveled to many more: Korea, Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad, Columbia, Spain, Brazil, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Java, Alaska, and China.

As her grandchildren were born trips and then return trips were made to Disney Land and Disney World. Among the favorite of all spots in the whole world, however, for the young boy Dana and then for his four children was Garner State Park. Allene and Dana would take the trailer and stay for the summer. And he in turn would take his children there. I hope you saw the beautiful photo album the grandchildren made for Allene showing many of these "kid" trips. If you haven't seen it here, be sure to look at it later today. The love they felt for their grandmother shows everywhere!

Now Allene Cline wasn't your ordinary tourist. When she and Richard went to a new place, she made friends. Real friends. She could strike up a conversation with anybody about anything.

Dana says that his mother would shop at the local market and ask about any vegetables she couldn't identify. "What is it? How do you cook it?", she'd ask. He swears that she knew every way in the world to prepare squash. "She'd eat anything", Dana says. "Her rule was that you had to try everything at least once. And by the way, banana soup is really pretty good."

One of the first trips Richard and his bride made was soon after they married. They drove to Colorado to visit one of her friends. It just so happened that the friend's sister was into rock hunting. It was on this trip that they first explored a mine dump. And you know the rest of the story.

The novice rock hounds began educating themselves. They subscribed to mineralogy and lapidary journals. They asked questions of experienced rock hunters. They explored. Perhaps you know that their only child was named after a textbook. It's true, you know. And Richard has the book to prove it: Dana's Textbook of Mineralogy. Every summer they traveled to the western United States to hunt for rocks.

Allene and Richard Cline are among the founding members of the Corpus Christi Gem and Mineralogical Society.

It almost seems as if the home they built was primarily constructed to hold their collections, books, journals, and equipment. Custom designed cabinetry and display cases fill the Rock Room. More rocks are stored in the garage in their custom built crates, all labeled and numbered. When Richard and Dana begin telling "rock" stories years and places get jumbled up. They talk of moving a 600 pound petrified tree, of 22 petrified palm tree trunks, of trips to Four Corners, of friends they've made and kept over many years.

And you do know the "chewing gum" story, don't you? It seems as if Allene and three rock hound friends once went to the Rio Grande near Laredo to hunt for rocks. In getting there, rough terrain pierced a hole in the gasoline tank. Now Allene knew this because she was the one who scooted beneath the car to examine the problem.

And she was the one who came up with the solution. You've heard this story, right? She handed out sticks of gum to her three friends with the order, "chew or walk." They chewed. Back beneath the car she went, carrying the chewed gum. She used it to patch the hole in the tank and they used what little fuel remained in the tank to get themselves into Laredo for real repairs. Now that's a woman who can improvise!

Improvisation and self-sufficiency served Allene well, maybe even from the time she was a child of a blind mother. During the months and years Richard was away, she was, for all intents and purposes, a single mother.

In 1972 when the Cline family decided to build their home in Corpus Christi, she and Richard designed the home to fit the lot and to take advantage of the prevailing winds. For several years they had no air conditioning. This changed after the home (and the rocks!) were struck by mildew during one of the extended times the home stood empty because the family was away.

When the home was being built, Richard did the electrical work and Allene designed and decorated the interior. Dana's job was to move the eight dump truck loads of dirt around the lawn so Allene could grow the beautiful tropical plants that pleased her so...and once won her Corpus Christi's Yard of the Month award.

Over the years this home would be closed up as the family went to work and live temporarily in faraway places. But that permanent address: XXX YYYYYYYYY, Corpus Christi Texas, 78415 was very important. It was to this address that the Cline's friends from across the state, across the nation, across the world, sent letters.

Richard says Allene's address book is full. Christmas letters from the Cline family go everywhere. They go to a former miner in Montana who gave the novice rock hounds permission to hunt the dumps and then invited them to lunch in his home over fifty years ago. Allene's letters go to a produce salesman in Trinidad who helped her shop. Her letters go to a German tourist she met at Yellowstone...the one who sent all the Boy Scout patches to her grandsons. They go to a taxi driver from Bali, to an Australian she met in China...and, well, you get the idea.

People from all over the world have come to be named in Allene Cline's address book because she wasn't afraid of making a friend, no matter where she was. And she knew how to keep them.

Until the very end...she kept her friends. That produce seller from Trinidad called last week to see how she was doing.

Until the very end...she loved her rocks. Allene Cline died in the room she and Richard designed to hold their rock collection.

Until the very end...she loved traveling. She'd already made arrangements, Richard said, for the gift she wanted to give their grandson, Ryan, when he becomes an Eagle Scout soon. This summer she planned on sending him on a trip to Germany.

As you can probably imagine, Richard has been using Allene's address book a lot since Friday. He's been calling friends to let them know of her death. So he knows where the address book is.

But he's not sure where her passport is. He thinks maybe it's in the bank lock box. Maybe.

Then again, Richard, maybe she took it with her.

She's embarked on a great journey...another one. That young Arkansas woman has started many journeys over her lifetime. On Friday morning, with you there, she left on another journey. Maybe she needed the passport! And if she's the traveler on the new journey that she was on her earthly journeys, we know two things: she'll make new friends and she'll keep in touch with the old ones.

American Poet Robert Frost might have been writing about Allene when he penned these lines:

Two roads diverged in a wood and I . . .
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Here's to Allene Cline: Happy trails until we meet again.

Notes, by Dana Cline

The service was written based on interviews with Cline family members on Sunday, January 29th, 2006 and delivered on Tuesday, January 31st, 2006.

Mom's hair turned gray soon after I was born. I have no idea if I was the cause or not.

For the record, I still will eat almost anything. However, I hate all squash except fried zucchini.

The 600 pound petrified tree, and the 22 petrified palm tree stumps are real, and currently sitting in my rock garden.

As for the chewing gum story, that really happened too. What you didn't hear is that two of the other rock hounds were older school teachers (and sisters) with an aversion to chewing gum.

The story about eight dump truck loads of dirt (prime topsoil) was also true. I resented having to do that work (I was 15 or so at the time) but as a direct result, I'm not afraid of hard work.

Dad's address has been suppressed to protect his privacy. Please contact me if you need it.

Copyright © 2009 by Dana Cline
Last Updated  Monday, April 06, 2009
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