Allen, an economics major who served his alma mater for almost four decades, died January 11 in Menlo Park of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 86. Over the course of his career, he wrote the University's finest popular history, edited the Stanford Alumni Review (a predecessor to Stanford magazine) and served as University editor.
After graduation, Allen worked for various news organizations in California but couldn't stay away long from the Farm. In 1942, he joined the Stanford Alumni Association as editor of the Review. After a brief stint editing Air Force publications during World War II, he returned to the magazine in 1946. During his six years as editor, the Review won 15 major awards.
As director of the News Service from 1952 to 1961, he "set Stanford's standards for candor, accuracy and fairness in reporting," says Bob Beyers, now retired, who succeeded him after Allen shifted to director of University publications. In 1965, Allen became University editor, working closely with the president's office. Richard Lyman, Stanford's president from 1970 to 1980, remembers him as "an admirable and lovable human being whose very presence was a tonic for the soul."
Allen's service to Stanford continued after his retirement in 1977. A founding member of the Stanford Historical Society in 1976, he documented hundreds of photographs for the Stanford Archives and the News Service. "He had a mind like a sponge for facts," his daughter, Lyn Carr, told the San Jose Mercury News in January. Alberta Siegel, professor emerita of psychiatry, remembers him as "a walking encyclopedia of Stanford history."
His magnum opus was Stanford: From the Foothills to the Bay, an informal history that took him three years to research and write. Co-published in 1980 by the Historical Society and the Alumni Association, the 228-page book sold out its initial press run of 20,000 as well as a second printing. It eloquently reflects Allen's love for the University. Describing the Quad, for instance, he wrote: "Its site remains one of rare and uncrowded beauty. . . . Stanford has responded to [philosopher William] James's call for greatness."
Allen's wife of 62 years, Leora, died last November. He is survived by two daughters, Lyn and Tina; and two granddaughters.