Flathead Reservation's 'Col.' Doug Allard dies

2009-09-19T07:00:00Z Flathead Reservation's 'Col.' Doug Allard diesBy VINCE DEVLIN of the Missoulian missoulian.com
September 19, 2009 7:00 am  • 

ST. IGNATIUS - When a Mission Valley matriarch passed on years ago, her family turned to "Col." Doug Allard to assess the value of several Indian artifacts she owned.

Among the items was an old vest Allard believed would be worth something. The family offered to give it to Allard, but the auctioneer said no.

"Just put it in one of my auctions," he told them, "and I'll bid on it."

Allard couldn't be at the auction where the vest eventually came up for bid, recalls his longtime friend Joe McDonald, so Allard sent his wife.

She came home with the vest - but not before having to outbid a collector who, it turned out, wanted it as badly as Allard.

"He couldn't believe," McDonald says with a laugh, "he wound up paying $28,000 for something he could have had for nothing."

On the Flathead Indian Reservation and beyond, Thursday and Friday were days for sharing stories of Allard, the well-known St. Ignatius businessman who died late Wednesday in a Missoula hospital at the age of 78.

Many of Allard's businesses stretch down the roadside where U.S. Highway 93 skirts St. Ignatius: Col. Doug Allard's Flathead Indian Museum, Trading Post, Huckleberry Jam Factory and Fruit Stand, General Store, Lodgepole Motel and the Buffalo Ranch Café and Bar.

"He was a dreamer, believer and entrepreneur," says one of Allard's nine children, Jeanine Allard. "He grew up as a poor farm kid, half-Indian, in the Great Depression and he had an amazing work ethic."

A former secretary for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Allard most recently has been one of the driving forces behind the success of Salish Kootenai College, where McDonald serves as president.

As the longtime president of the SKC Foundation, Allard helped build an endowment that allowed the college to purchase its current 140-acre Pablo campus, "10 to 12 acres at a time," McDonald says.

It was the equity in the foundation that allowed the college to capitalize its project to build a new gymnasium, and the 30-year-old college's endowment is nearing

$9 million.

"One part of Doug Allard's legacy was his unwavering support of the vision of Salish Kootenai College and the education of our people," CSKT Tribal Chairman James Steele Jr. said Friday.

His "dedication to our college" is one thing McDonald says he will remember most about Allard.

"That," he said, "and that he was just a nice person."

Allard and McDonald grew up together in Post Creek, separated by two years in age and two miles on McDonald Lake Road. Both were starters on the 1948 St. Ignatius High School football team that won the Montana six-man championship.

Allard went on to Montana State University for a year, served in the Marines for four years, then returned to Bozeman to complete his bachelor's degree in agricultural economics.

His first taste of success in the business world, Jeanine Allard says, came after that, in California, where the money he made in the insurance industry, working for New York Life, allowed him to begin collecting the Indian artifacts that had always interested him.

"He started the auction sales in California in the late '60s as a sideline," his daughter says, "and in the fall of '72 decided to come home to Montana to do his business and raise his family."

"His main income was from the auctions," McDonald says, "and I think it was the early '80s when he had his first million-dollar auction. That's when he built the motel and trading post."

It was in a New York pawnshop or second-hand store, McDonald says, that Allard stumbled on a trunk-full of Indian artifacts the collector recognized as being Salish, and which became the basis for his museum collection.

A staff sergeant in the Marines, Allard's "colonel" title is one bestowed on auctioneers, according to his son Steve.

As his business ventures grew, so did Allard's family.

"He told people he'd been happily married for 44 years, just not to the same woman," Steve Allard says.

From Doug Allard's four marriages came nine children - sons Steve, Mike and Chris, and daughters Toni Cederlund, Lynne Allard Meadows, Mary Ann "Wally" Pierre Allard Gopher, Jeanine Allard, Tena Allard Bova and his youngest, 15-year-old Sydney.

Sydney's name is a form of the middle name Allard's father, Uldrick Sidney Allard, went by. His great-grandparents, Steve says, were shooting for the initials "USA" when they named him.

Doug Allard is also survived by 16 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and his four wives: Jera Stewart, Debra Westerman, Carol Nelson and Julia Lester. Daughter Mary Ann preceded him in death 10 years ago.

A world traveler, Doug Allard sometimes described himself as "world famous," and he was, Jeanine says.

"He knew people everywhere," she says. "He'd been everywhere - China, Australia, all over."

He and his longtime friend, former CSKT chairman Thomas "Bearhead" Swaney, were written up in the New York Times a dozen years ago when the pair collaborated on a cooking show on KSKC-TV, Salish Kootenai College's public television station.

"Cookin' with the Colonel" featured Allard under the chef's hat cooking wild game, and Swaney - who died earlier this year - critiquing the results.

"Today I'm going to do it like they do in ice skating," Swaney announced before one show. "Grade on technical merit and artistic presentation."

With Allard complaining that he had to talk over the "always loud and noisy" Swaney, the colonel whipped up his "Flathead Goulash" in front of the cameras using meat from a deer Swaney had shot a month earlier.

Told in the time frame of the shooting of the show, the Times article includes the following entries:

"10:35 a.m.: Bearhead sits quietly, snoozily, as Allard explains that the macaroni should be cooked 'al dente.' Snapped to attention by the foreign words, Bearhead purses his lips in mock surprise and asks, 'What's that?' Allard explains that 'it's a way of cooking pasta so that it's just not quite done.'

"10:45: The moment of truth! Allard places the goulash before 'Mr. B-head' and awaits his judgment, but not before adding a revolutionary ingredient - a dollop of sour cream. 'First I'm going to try it without sour cream,' Bearhead says suspiciously, as he spoons the goulash into his mouth. 'I like the added chili powder,' he declares. 'That portion of the meal's got a 10.' Encouraged, Allard presses Bearhead to try the sour cream. 'I'm giving you a 9 for that part,' Bearhead frowns. 'We used to feed sour cream to the pigs when I was a kid.' Bearhead awards an 8 for artistic presentation. Why so stingy? 'There was no tablecloth,' he says."

Allard "prided himself on being a Republican," Joe McDonald says, "although I'm not sure what kind of Republican he was. A liberal one, I guess."

McDonald visited his friend at St. Patrick Hospital two weeks ago, and was disappointed to find the colonel less interested in conversation than usual.

"I felt bad when I left," McDonald says, "but the next day I went back with my wife, and he sparked right up. He loved the ladies."

Steve Allard says his father had twice survived cancer, plus "four or five" heart attacks, the last one prompting quadruple bypass surgery, "and it all caught up to him with this last sickness" - inoperable lung cancer.

Col. Doug Allard died about 10 p.m. Wednesday night, in the same hospital room where his father, Uldrick Sidney Allard, had passed on many years before.

Steve Allard says St. Ignatius and Nashville singer and songwriter Tim Ryan left a message on his phone after hearing the news.

"Our Mission Mountains are sitting quiet today," Ryan said in his message, "because a legend has passed."

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