There is a reason we call our friends AMAZING. Simply put, there are HEROES among us. For the friends highlighted this week, WW II made an indelible mark. As with many of “their day”, it shaped who they would become. One started in England, the other in
Oakley Allen was born in 1932 in the copper
mining town of Globe, Arizona. His family moved to San Diego, California in 1937 where he graduated high school in June of 1942. By December of 1942 Oakley felt the call of duty to his country and entered the Army Air Corps. He graduated flight school and became a pilot. He still wears the beautiful, coveted Army Air Corps ring. Over the next 46 years, he spent 20,000 hours flying. The first 22 years he spent in the Army Air Corp/Air Force, then moved to St. Louis to fly commercially for Saberliner for 24 years. He only stopped flying because his wife said it was time to quit!
Amid all that training and flying, in 1944 Oakley married his sweetheart. They raised 3 successful sons while moving around the world. Their oldest worked for and retired from Hallmark Card Company, their second is a soon to retire nuclear engineer for Westinghouse, and their youngest is a dental technician, making false teeth and bridgework. Oakley is also the proud grandfather of 13 and great grandfather of 17 children! The family spent 3 years in Germany, 2 years in French Morocco and 1 ½ years in Japan. Then after an amazing 55 years together Oakley’s cherished wife succumbed to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
During WWII Oakley trained hundreds of pilots and sent them off into the fight half a world away. As we moved into the Korean War, Oakley flew into the fray. He successfully completed 119 combat missions in P-52 fighter planes (also known as P-51D Mustangs). His expertise with airplanes and ability to communicate that knowledge made him a valuable asset. Oakley is able to speak German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese, and of course, he’s been there. The only countries he has not visited or lived in are China, Australia and New Zealand!
If all that is not enough, Oakley has been a Porsche owner and active in the Porsche Club of America for over 44 years. He has owned 6 Porsches over the years, one at a time, purchasing one each time a new model was released. He currently owns a 2004 C4S. He has traveled the country and around the world judging Porsche competitions.
Add to all his other accomplishments, Oakley skates. For over 20 years, I have watched him make fast circles around the ice in his well-kept hockey skates. Earlier this year he had to take a break from skating because of a difficult bout with health issues. He never gave up! He’s back. Just recently Oakley hit the ice with his buddies again.
Marina (Nina)Aluisa is an enigma. If you see her on the ice you would swear she isn’t a day over 55, cute, petite, blonde and feisty. “I have rehabbed my whole house myself. I paint, hang drywall, put up my own fence and do the plumbing under my sink.” There is a reason for her independent streak.
Nina was born in Manchester, England in 1936! Her father was born in Scotland and early on gave her ideas of America and creative arts. He served in the U.S. Army, was a writer, a musician and composer. As a very talented man, he raised a multi-talented daughter.
Raised in England during WWII, she remembers air raids, gas masks, rationing and black-outs. And she remembers the never give up spirit. She has it! Those hard times helped develop her skills. She is multi-talented, full of spunk, fun to know and quite a tiger to cross.
Nina skated in her first show with a group at age 17 in Blackpool, England. One year late she had her own act on the ice, skating and playing the trumpet. She received reviews fit for a star- one headline read, “MEET THE BLONDE CINDERELLA!” For the next 2 years, she skated in smash hit shows all across England.
At age 20, Nina moved to Germany to join Casa Karaoka Shows in Garnisch Parten Kirchen, Germany. The shows were run by the Army to entertain the troops. She spent 6 years singing with the shows. Then she took a job playing her trumpet and singing with a quintet in a classy night club there. That gig lasted 2 years.
Then at age 29, Nina headed for the U.S. For 2 years she floated from job to job. During that floating, she met Pat Aluisa and not long after they were married. It was a match that struck a fire in St. Louis! They purchased two Gaslight Square clubs and one in Ballwin, developing them into high brow establishments. Nina sang, tap danced and played the trumpet to rave reviews.
Throughout the years, Nina has “had a lot of excitement” as she calls it. She traveled extensively. She met and schmoozed with hundreds of famous people, including Steve McQueen and Prince Albert of Monaco. She taught ice skating at Castle Oaks, yoga in Ballwin and was a personal trainer for Vic Tanny health club. She ran the ice rink at the DeVille Hotel at Lindell & Taylor. She learned to ski in Germany, skied in Colorado and now is huge proponent of Hidden Valley ski resort here. She’ll invite you to ski, too!
Another of her passions is that of animal advocacy. Nina works with local animal shelters, rescues strays and is always on the alert for animal abuse. She reports! Her advocacy reaches her table, she is a strict vegetarian!
And ladies, she has the most amazing shoes!
There is so much more to say about these amazing people…just come meet them!