JACK ALFRED MACALLISTER
Jack A. MacAllister passed away February 14, 2015 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Jack was born in Humeston, Iowa July 12, 1927 to parents Maxwell (Mac) and Opal. He grew up in Humeston until they relocated to Vinton, Iowa during high school. His father was a high school math teacher, principal and coach, and his mother was a devoted homemaker. They instilled in Jack a strong work ethic and everlasting sense of humility, integrity, compassion and fairness.
After a short stint in the Navy as WWII ended, Jack enrolled at the University of Iowa, pursuing a business degree. While attending a Hawkeyes football game, he noticed a cute blond who was playing the snare drum in the school’s famed Scottish Highlanders marching band. He schemed to be set up on a blind date with her, and soon met the love of his life, Marilyn Anderson. They married right after they graduated in 1950. Jack was promptly recruited by the telephone company, known as “Ma Bell” at the time, as a telephone installer for the princely sum of $50 per week. Before he started the job they honeymooned in Colorado, returning home with about $5 between them. He and Marilyn rented a basement apartment, began their life together, and raised three children, Steve, Jim and Sue.
Jack moved upward through the ranks of the telephone company, moving every 2 years or so. The final tally was 19 moves in five states. He liked to say he had pretty much performed every job there was to do and knew the company inside and out. He loved people, loved meeting customers, believed in treating employees fairly and with respect and always tried to make the best decisions for the customer, his employees and the company. He was a much beloved and legendary figure within the company. After serving as president of Northwestern Bell in Omaha, Nebraska, his career culminated in 1982 with his appointment as the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of U S WEST, which was then one of the “Baby Bells”, the offspring of the government mandated divestiture of AT&T. He held that position until his retirement in December of 1990.
Although his accomplishments are too numerous to recount, he built US WEST into a Fortune 500 company, and embraced diversity and encouraged the recruitment and advancement of women and minorities within the company. Jack chaired the work-based learning advisory commission of the Department of Labor, was a board member of the National Parks Foundation and numerous other boards, both corporate and non-profits. One accomplishment he was most proud of was establishing the U S WEST Foundation, dedicated to funding philanthropic community efforts in the 14 state U S WEST region. He also established Osage Initiatives after an employee met with him regarding the plight of homeless people in Denver. Osage Initiatives provided them with job training, housing, day care and education. Jack also was a great believer in and extremely active in education, in part as a tribute to his father, a career educator. He served on the board of the University of Northern Colorado and established scholarship programs at 6 universities, all of which are active today. They generally emphasize education and scholastic achievement, and often favor minority and first generation college students.
Locally, Jack and Marilyn contributed generously to many non-profits. Notably, they were instrumental in establishing a computer lab at Gunnison High School, the Dance Studio at the Gunnison Arts Center, Paradise Place pre-school in Crested Butte, and Gunnison County’s first county wide animal shelter.
Jack and Marilyn built a family vacation home in Mt. Crested Butte in 1975. They came often over the years to ski and enjoy the mountains, before finally settling here permanently in 2005.
Jack is survived by his wife of nearly 65 years, Marilyn, children Jim (Kathy), and Sue MacAllister, all of Gunnison; grandchildren Cate, Erin, Trent, Trevor, Carly, Kelly, Allyssa, and Brande Halasz (Xavier); great-grandchildren Tristan and Ellangeline; James (Lisa) Beda; Christy Gray; brother-in-law Larry Anderson and his children Dale and Laurie and their families; and his beloved canine, Pinky. He was predeceased by his parents, his in-laws J.R. and Eva Anderson, son Steve, grandson David, and grandson-in-law to be, Billy Dwyer. Also many other close friends and associates. He will be greatly missed but remembered for a life lived fully and well.
The family would like to thank the many dedicated caregivers, led by Bre Norris, for their compassionate and respectful service to Jack.
Many charities, educational institutions, and non-profits have benefitted from Jack’s philanthropic efforts. Most importantly, it’s the people those organizations serve that he wanted to help. One of his preferred methods was to award matching grants, thereby encouraging others to give and become involved. If you would like to honor Jack and become a part of his legacy, please send memorial contributions payable to the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley, earmarked for the Jack MacAllister Memorial. Contributions will be matched by the MacAllister Family Foundation, and distributed by the family to many of Jack’s favorite organizations.
A celebration of Jack’s life is planned in Gunnison this July with details to be announced.
Please click “Donate Now” to give a gift in memory of Jack MacAllister.
If you prefer to mail in a memorial gift check, please make it payable to CFGV and note that the gift is for the Jack A. MacAllister Memorial Fund.
Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley
PO Box 7057
Gunnison, CO 81230.