ORONO – Kenneth William Allen of Orono passed away March 19, 2014, after a brief illness. Ken, called “Billy” as a child, was born June 20, 1930, in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, to Thomas Harold Allen and Marion Moses Allen.
His mother died suddenly when he was three and he lived with his grandfather, William H. Moses, a baker, in Eastport. Upon his grandfather’s death, Ken was raised by his “aunts” until his graduation from Shead Memorial High School. Ken’s upbringing was modest but a source of many happy memories, wonderful stories and unsurpassed wisdom. Ken relished many ties to his hometown, supporting Eastport’s Fourth of July celebration, subscribing to The Quoddy Tides, and keeping in touch with classmates and other friends.
Thanks to the mentoring and guidance of a retired missionary physician, Dr. Richard Buker, Ken attended Wheaton College, traveling to Chicago by train, his lunch packed in a butter firkin and a few dollars tucked in his shoe. There he met Gloria Schoenherr Allen, impressing her with his Downeast pronunciation of the word “horse” in an English class. Ken and Gloria were members of the Class of 1952 and enjoyed nearly 60 years of marriage prior to Gloria’s death in 2009.
Ken was a veteran of the Korean War. He received his master’s degree from the University of Maine in 1956 and his PhD from Rice University in 1959. After a brief period of teaching at UCLA he was able to realize his dream of returning to Maine in 1965. He and Gloria raised four children in Orono. Active in the community, they were founding members of the Pilgrim Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Bangor.
Ken worked for 25 years at the University of Maine in many capacities including acting president. As a professor in the Zoology Department, “Doc” Allen furthered his life-long love of teaching, research, and public service. He also held positions at Husson University, the University of Southern Maine, and the University of Maine, Augusta. Ken enjoyed several advisory roles, including one with the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and another with UMaine’s Lobster Institute. Ken enjoyed raising many different types of animals including sheep, horses, goats, geese, ducks, chickens, and turkeys.
Ken’s interest in marine life took him to far-flung locations, including the Antarctic. Traveling with fellow professor and close friend John Dearborn, Ken spent several months in 1972 on the R/V Hero on a research trip funded by the National Science Foundation.
After retiring from the University of Maine, Ken served on the Maine State Board of Education, and enjoyed working for the United States Immigration Service where he made many friends and earned kudos for his ability to shoot in the dark.
In his professional capacity, Ken met and worked with dignitaries and scholars from all over the world, yet all who met him remember his warmth and modesty. Ken taught his children the value of hard work, and emphasized treating others with kindness and respect, regardless of their title or status.
Following his wife’s death, Ken surprised everyone by bouncing back to enjoy a different, but nonetheless fulfilling life. He deeply valued his role as a volunteer for Senator Susan Collins, coffee with friends at Pat’s Pizza, and new friendships at the Dirigo Pines Retirement Community. An avid reader throughout his life, Ken’s interests ranged from arcane Presbyterian theology to the habits of crows, which he liked to feed near his home on Forest Avenue. Ken also tended a large garden for many years, raising bees and patiently experimenting with methods of growing potatoes and other vegetables.
Ken was fiercely devoted to his family. He was a selfless and loving father and grandfather. He leaves behind his daughter, Kimberly and her husband, James H. Goff, of Hancock; his sons, Thomas and wife, Lisa, of Old Town, Peter and wife, Sarah, of Chappaqua, N.Y., and Matthew and Meghan of Boston. “Papa” will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by his grandchildren, Charles, Harris and James Allen, and Katherine and Michael Amato. Ken is also survived by his brother-in-law, Charles Schoenherr and wife, Margaret, and other members of the Schoenherr family.
Relatives and friends are welcome to call 4-6 p.m. Friday, March 28, at the Orono Chapel of Brookings Smith, 72 Main St., Orono. A funeral service will be held 10 a.m. Saturday, March 29, at the Pilgrim Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 375 Mount Hope Ave., Bangor, with the Rev. Russell Hamilton, pastor, officiating. Family and friends are encouraged to share conversation and refreshment at a reception at the church, following the service Saturday. Spring Interment will be at Riverside Cemetery, Orono. Those who wish to remember Ken in a special way may make a gift to the Dr. Kenneth W. Allen and Gloria Schoenherr Endowed Scholarship Fund held by Wheaton College. Ken and Gloria established this fund to help Maine students with financial need. Gifts to Wheaton College may be directed to the Advancement Office, Wheaton College, 501 College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187, attention: Pam Munn. Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.BrookingsSmith.