Amherst Magazine

Franklin G. Allen Jr. '38

Deceased April 16, 2007
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Franklin G. "Frank" Allen Jr.

During an Amherst occasion some years ago, Frank walked with a son, F. “Gordy” Allen ’69, to the War Memorial.  “He told me about men he knew whose names were there, and he had tears in his eyes,” Gordy remembers.

The terrible cost of war was central to Frank’s memories, both of his sons, Gordy and Tom, said in telephone interviews.  In WWII, he rose to the rank of major in charge of personnel for the 9th Infantry Division.  That meant that where he assigned men could mean death for them, Gordy said.

Frank was outraged by superior commands which resulted in the waste of lives for small bits of terrain.  And he was distressed by the unfairness of where people served, with some at the front and others spending the war behind the lines, his sons said.

Frank participated in the historic Remagen Bridge-crossing over the Rhine as the war neared its end in 1945.  Afterward, he returned to his native Baltimore where he became a prominent lawyer.  He died April 16, 2007, of myeloma at a retirement community in Cockeysville, MD.

A law colleague, Decatur “Deke” Miller, was quoted in a Baltimore Sun obituary as saying, “Frank might have been the best all-around lawyer I’ve ever known . . . he was incredibly smart, and you always trusted his judgment . . . he was focused on doing the right thing.”  His firm, Marbury, Miller and Evans is now DLA Piper Rudnick.

Both of his sons are also lawyers.

Frank prepared for Amherst at the Gilman School in Baltimore.  A Chi Phi, he served his senior year on the council of fraternity presidents.  He graduated from Yale Law School in 1941 and enlisted in the army a few days after Pearl Harbor in December of that year.

His military assignments were quite unusual.  He recalled in a memoir made available by the family that he had tried to enlist in the engineers at Fort Belvoir to be near Ann Updegraff, whom he was then courting at Bryn Mawr College, but he wound up instead with a medical detachment in Tennessee.  (They did get married in 1942.)

After becoming a first lieutenant, he served briefly with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in England, training, as he put it, “Europeans of various nationalities to become spies and infiltrate behind the German lines.”  He left that job to join the 9th Infantry Division and landed with it on D+4 on Utah Beach in Normandy.

After he retired in 1981, Frank perfected his skills as an enthusiastic vegetable gardener at his home in the Roland Park section of Baltimore.

“If he could have found a way to cook corn on the stalk, he would have done so,” Gordy said.

An English major at Amherst, he also read “enormously and very broadly,” ranging from Gibbon to Proust and the history of Native Americans, Tom said.

Frank and Ann retired to Cockeysville seven years ago.  He had been in fairly good shape even while suffering from the blood disease and was bright and alert three days before he died, Tom said.

Besides his wife and sons, Franklin G. (Gordy) Allen III of Portland, OR, and Thomas A., of Gladwyne, PA, he leaves a daughter, Ann Taylor Allen of Louisville, KY; a sister, Louise Allen Armstrong of Ruxton, MD; and five grandchildren.

George Bria ’38

 

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