Alan R. Carlsen
Dec 27th, 2018
Alan R. Carlsen 87 of South Dennis died Thursday December 27, 2018 at The Terraces in Orleans, after a long but brave battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Born in Boston, Alan was the son of the late Frank and Dorothy (Herland) Carlsen. He was raised and educated in Braintree and was a 1949 graduate of Braintree High School. He attended New Hampton Preparatory School for a year prior to entering the University of New Hampshire from which he graduated in 1954.
Following graduation from UNH, Alan married Harle Steere and spent two years in the U.S. Army. He was stationed in Texas then at one of the Army’s last 90mm anti-aircraft batteries located at Fort Dawes in Winthrop. It was while on leave from the Army, in the fall of 1956, that Alan began his teaching career.
Alan will be remembered by many as a teacher, a coach and a mentor at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School where he touched the lives of many students, both as an English teacher as well as a track and cross-country coach for over 35 years. Alan was an outstanding long-distance runner in high school (setting a high school state record in the mile run) as well as a competitive runner in college (accomplishing a record 4:19 mile run at a meet at Brown University). It was that love of competing that led him to start the track program at DYRHS in 1957. He enlisted the help of Dr. Roger Bannister (first man to run a sub-four-minute mile) to write him an encouraging letter to help sway a resistive school committee of the benefits of the sport. In the mid-1960s, Alan also started the cross-country program at DYRHS. Over his coaching career, his teams won 36 consecutive dual meets, multiple divisional meets as well as two consecutive All State meets. In 1976 Alan was named Cross-Country Coach of the Year by the Boston Globe and in 1983, the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association inducted him into their Hall of Fame. In 1998 Alan was inducted into the Braintree High School Athletic Hall of Fame. His students and athletes remember him as soft spoken, encouraging and someone who set the bar high, as he tried to bring out the best in everyone.
Away from school and coaching, Alan and Harle owned and operated The Tree Farm from their home on Bass River in South Dennis, where they grew a wide variety of trees as well as provided three-season planting and landscaping services. Alan often provided a small crew of DYRHS students with jobs and the chance to learn the value of hard work. Alan and Harle also owned a Christmas tree farm in Mt Vernon, Maine where they grew hundreds of Christmas trees. As winter approached, Alan would ship a flatbed truck loaded with Christmas trees grown on their Mt Vernon farm to their home on Bass River where they were an annual destination for many loyal customers for many, many years.
Alan was a loving, caring father and husband as well as a fun-loving grandfather and great-grandfather. Alan’s grandchildren will remember not only by his many “proper grammar” reminders, but also water balloons, ski lessons, games of skill or chance and pranks - like leaving toys in their beds while they were in school so when they slipped into bed at night, they’d know he had stopped by the house on one of his frequent trips to his Christmas tree Farm in Mt Vernon, Maine.
Alan always made time for fun. Fourth of July was always filled with water fights, “experiential” fireworks, treasure hunts, water skiing and of course, horseshoes where he could spot you 11 points in a 15-point game and still beat you (his dozens of trophies should have been a clue). An avid water skier, Alan built a water ski jump while stationed at Fort Dawes and brought it to Bass River where he, Harle and friends used it for several years.
Christmas always came with surprises like gift wrapped clues to other gift wrapped clues to an eventual gift somewhere in the house. Mt Vernon was where Alan hosted many ski trips to Sugarloaf, where he taught us all how to ski. The old farmhouse is filled with pictures capturing years of planting, mowing, shearing and harvesting trees (if you were lucky enough to attend a harvest, you learned to appreciate that first beer Alan always offered at quitting time and what it meant to be physically exhausted). There were also many pictures of cookouts over an open fire, trips to the lake to swim or boat, ski trips, pulling a real cow’s tooth out of an amazed grandchild’s mouth and a family having fun.
Alan and Harle often worked side by side, whether it was planting or shearing Christmas trees or roofing a house. They were a great team in that way, but they also took many ski trips together from Blue Hill to Sugarloaf or Jackson Hole to Alta and many family photos are of Alan and Harle out on the dance floor.
Besides his wife of 64 years, Alan is survived by a daughter, Harle Watson and her husband, John; five grandchildren, Kristen Hourihan and her husband Dan, Jeanne Hess and her husband, Mike Moffa, S. John Watson III and his wife, Courtney, Jake Hess and his wife, Vanessa Larson; and Brian Watson; and five great-grandchildren: Cooper, Quinn, Beckett, Jack and Charlie. Alan was predeceased last year by his daughter, Marcia Hess.
The family would like to thank the special team at Hope Hospice for all their incredible support over the past year and a half as well as the amazing staff at the Terraces for their kind and loving care.
Visiting hours will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday January 3 in the Hallett Funeral Home, 273 Station Ave., South Yarmouth MA.
Burial will be private.
As an expression of sympathy, memorial donations may be made to the Resident Activity Fund, c/o The Terraces Orleans, 60 Daley Terrace, Orleans MA, 02653 or to Hope Hospice, 765 Attucks Lane, Hyannis, MA 02601.