Richard Carson Allen, 97, died in Falmouth on Sept. 19, 2018, with his wife, Barbara, close by as she had been for the nearly 75 years they were married.
Mr. Allen was born March 20, 1921, the first day of spring, in Springfield, MA. He grew up in Montclair, 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.
Mr. Allen 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. He could not stop looking at her, and four months later they were married on Dec. 18, 1943.
He 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, Mr. Allen 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 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, Canada 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. He 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.
Mr. Allen 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, he 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 the Rev. Leon Sullivan on the first Advisory Board of Directors for OIC of America, a non-profit 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, Mr. Allen and his wife 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, NY, refined their tennis games at John Gardiner tennis ranches in Arizona and Vermont, and played in masters tennis tournaments from St. Croix to Baden-Baden, Germany.
Over the years, he 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 US 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.
Mr. Allen is survived by his wife, Barbara, his three children, Robert Carson Allen of Oxford, England, Nancy Foran of Naples, ME, and Susan Murphy of Tucson, AZ, his grandchildren, Heather, Padraic, and Timothy Foran and Matthew Allen, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A remembrance service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Richard Allen’s name to: Friends of Algonquin Park, P.O. Box 248, Whitney, ON K0J 2M0, Canada or visit the website algonquinpark.on.ca or Montclair Film Society 41 Watchung Plaza, #345 Montclair, NJ 07042, or visit the website montclairfilm.org.