Richard C. Allen, 97

Richard Allen

FALMOUTH — Richard Carson Allen, 97, died peacefully in Falmouth on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, with his wife, Barbara, close by as she had been for the nearly 75 years they were married. His was a life well lived with few, if any, regrets. As he himself once said, “It’s been a great ride!”

Richard was born March 20, 1921, the first day of spring, in Springfield, Mass. He grew up in Montclair, N.J. and graduated from College High School in 1939. He received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Penn State University in December, 1942, and was a member of the Army ROTC unit for four years. Upon graduation, he received the only commission in his ROTC class to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Richard was assigned to Radar School at Harvard and MIT. Though told by his commanding officer that he was there to study and not to meet girls, he crossed paths with Barbara Tudbury, could not stop looking at her, and four months later they were married on Dec. 18, 1943.

Richard received orders that took the two of them to Camp Lejeune, then to Camp Pendleton until he was shipped out to Funafuti and Enewetak atolls. He was an officer in the 51st Defense Battalion, the first ever anti-aircraft combat unit in the Marine Corps comprised of all African-American enlisted men. Richard later re-enlisted in the Marine Corp Organized Reserves during the Korean Conflict and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Following the war, Richard eventually settled his family in Montclair, where he and Barbara raised their three children. He was a longtime member of First Congregational Church, served on numerous committees, and faithfully played the role of prophet in the annual Christmas pageant for years. In the 1960s, he also facilitated discussions on race relations between white and African-American area churches.

He was a wonderful father, and family meant so much to him. He encouraged all his children in their academic and extracurricular interests, took canoe trips with his son, attended baseball games with his daughters, and spent many a Saturday evening at swim meets cheering them all on. He always made time for an annual family vacation at Geneva Park in Ontario where he had worked summers during high school or at the family cottage in Algonquin Park. He loved holidays and was a keeper of Christmas with all its traditions. Richard was a lifelong Giants fan — even after the baseball team moved to San Francisco. His grandchildren meant the world to him, and he cherished the time they spent together — playing casino, touring Ellis Island or a Gothic cathedral, and debating the latest political controversy.

Richard was employed at Pfizer, Inc. for 35 years, beginning as a personnel assistant and retiring as the corporate vice president of Employee and Community Affairs. In addition to organizing company outings, playing on the tennis team, and chairing the annual United Way campaign, Richard was instrumental in updating Pfizer’s employee discipline process as well as significantly expanding the company’s minority and veteran recruiting and hiring practices. He worked with Rev. Leon Sullivan on the first Advisory Board of Directors for OIC of America, a nonprofit providing educational and training services to enable economically disadvantaged and unemployed people of all races and backgrounds to be more productive members of society.

Upon retirement, Richard and Barbara traveled. They went ballooning in France, cruised to lesser-known Caribbean islands, and rode motor scooters in Bermuda. They attended movie marathon weekends in Tarrytown, N.Y., refined their tennis games at John Gardiner tennis ranches in Arizona and Vermont, and played in Master’s tennis tournaments from St. Croix to Baden-Baden, Germany.

Over the years, Richard maintained impressive collections of stamps, commemorative coins and medallions, plates, goblets, and pewter soldiers. However, his ongoing love was for the movies and the posters that advertised them. At one time, he owned over a thousand vintage movie posters and was frequently seen bidding at New York auctions.

He was legendary throughout the movie memorabilia world. He displayed posters at gallery shows throughout the United States and Canada and was a frequent speaker on movie poster art. He co-authored the definitive text on film posters, Reel Art: Great Posters from the Golden Age of the Silver Screen. At the time of his death, he was collaborating with his daughter, Nancy, on a book on window cards and movie memories that will be published posthumously.

Richard was positive, optimistic, and gracious beyond measure, a true gentleman. For him, the glass was always at least half full, and so life was always worth living — and living well. He will be missed but surely would remind all who knew him to “stay loose,” his iconic words of wisdom and farewell.

Richard is survived by his wife, Barbara; his three children, Robert Carson Allen of Oxford, England, Nancy Foran of Naples and Susan Murphy of Tucson, Ariz.; his four grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A remembrance service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donation may be made in Richard’s name to: Friends of Algonquin Park, P. O. Box 248, Whitney, ON K0J 2M0 Canada (http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/foap/donate/in-memorial.php) or Montclair Film Society, 41 Watchung Plaza, #345 Montclair, NJ 07042 (http://montclairfilm.org/get-involved/donate-now/).

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