Lasting Legacy: Retired teacher, school board member Col. Dave Allen passes away

Honoring the legacy of Col. Dave Allen, a respected teacher and school board member who recently passed away.

Nicole DeCriscio


Nicole DeCriscio


Jun 30, 2024

Lasting Legacy: Retired teacher, school board member Col. Dave Allen passes away

Selfless, genuine, patient, loving, the epitome of good are just a few of the many words used to describe the late Lieutenant Colonel Carl “Dave” Allen who passed away recently following complications from a nearly six-year long battle with cancer. 

Allen’s legacy throughout the community includes starting the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program at Owen Valley High School (OVHS) and serving the community through The Exchange Club, Owen County Community Foundation (OCCF) and on the Spencer-Owen Community Schools (S-OCS) school board. 

Allen served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years where he was in charge of bunker controlled nuclear codes. During his service, he was awarded the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal and the Air Force Humanitarian Service Medal. 

“Dave was part of the nuclear deterrent,” Darrell White, former CEO of the Owen County YMCA and friend of Allen, said. “I can’t think of anyone I would trust more to be in that position.”

White first met Allen at the YMCA, where he was an avid pickleball player, but they had the opportunity to get to know one another through The Exchange Club. 

It was after his retirement from the Air Force that Allen started the JROTC program.

Tom Wallace, board chair of the OCCF and a retired OVHS teacher, recalled Allen creating the program. 

“With soft eyes, warm smile and a firm handshake I was greeted and charmed by Col. David Allen,” Wallace said. “Each day with purpose, high expectations, patience and love Col. Allen would develop citizens of character that would be dedicated to serving their nation and community.”

Rhonda Schafer also taught with Allen and later served as principal of OVHS during Allen’s tenure. 

“He thought of others before himself,” Schafer said. “He was just a great person to bounce ideas off of and get advice.”

She described how Allen advocated and taught students important life skills. 

“He definitely wanted positive things for our students,” Schafer said, adding that Allen always thought about how every kid could succeed. 

She also recalled a day when Allen, who was interested in genealogy, came into her office saying they were related. She was skeptical since her grandfather came from Germany and Allen was originally from Frankfort. But, Allen had learned that they were indeed distantly related through Schafer’s grandmother’s side. 

“What a person to find out that you’re related to,” she said. 

Ronda Stogsdill first met the Allen family when they began attending the church that Stogsdill attended. In addition to a friendship with Allen and his family, Stogsdill served with Allen on the board of OCCF and The Exchange Club. 

“The students he taught received a great blessing not only academically but in life. He planted so many seeds and shaped future leaders with values of integrity and discipline. He had a unique ability to inspire and guide young minds while encouraging them to believe in their own inner strengths and abilities,” she said. “I believe this role came so naturally to him because of what a wonderful father he was to Billy and Katie. He was always alongside them supporting them in their activities.”

Owen County Medal of Honor recipient Sammy L. Davis first met Allen when Allen invited him to speak at OVHS. 

“We became brothers after that,” Davis said. “Our time together was always very special.”

Davis also spoke to the relationship Allen had with his students. 

“He loved his students immensely and, from my experience, in talking with the students, they all loved him,” he said. 

Fellow S-OCS board member Chad Cooper noted something Allen said while teaching the JROTC program, "He said in all his years of teaching, he’s found that kids don’t change; it’s the parents that do.”

Several of Allen’s former students have taken to Facebook to share the positive impact he had on their lives. 

One such student was Donnie Clifford Jr. who offered the following to The Owen News, “I first met Col. Allen my freshman year in JROTC. From the first moment I met him, I could tell that he was a good man with a heart of gold. I also had the pleasure of having him in a business class senior year. In that year, he helped me with everything, from homework to talking about life; he was always there.” 

Another was Robbie Bean, who met Allen during a lunchtime recruiting period for the start of the JROTC program. Allen became a mentor and friend to Bean. 

“He made it very clear that it didn’t matter how you were raised,” Bean said, adding that Allen said everyone has to make their own path. “He always made it known you had to work on yourself.”

Allen retired from OVHS in 2022 but took a break following his cancer diagnosis in 2018 and 2019 before returning to teach business classes.

It wasn’t long before Allen found other ways to create positive changes within the community. 

“You would think that a cancer diagnosis would slow him down, but it did not. It just gave him a new perspective and outlook on life. He relished every moment and seized every opportunity to give back and improve the lives around him,” Stogsdill said. 

Schafer said Allen struggled with the decision to retire in the first place.

“He was going to continue to make his mark,” Schafer said. “He made it his mission to still help others and make a difference.”

Serving on the scholarship committee and board for OCCF was one of the ways Allen continued to give back.

“Upon retirement Dave reached out to the community in which he lived. At the Owen County Community Foundation, Dave served once again with purpose, high expectations, patience and love on the Scholarship Committee and more recently the Board of Directors. Dave was devoted to enhancing the quality of life for all citizens of Owen County with the foresight and understanding that decisions made today will impact generations to come,” Wallace said. “All who encountered Col. Allen will take a piece of him with them as each of us serves all citizens of Owen County.”

S-OCS Board President Derek Morgan also spoke to Allen’s lasting legacy within the community. 

“Dave's absence on our board, in our community and in the lives of his family will be difficult to overcome. Dave's dedication to public service has made him a valued member of the S-OCS School Board these past two years,” Morgan said. 

He worked with several of Allen’s cadets when Morgan served as the Jobs for America’s Graduates Specialist at OVHS. 

“His unwavering commitment and genuine care left an indelible mark on everyone he taught, and I find solace knowing that this mark will ensure his legacy endures for years to come,” Morgan said. “My hope is that we are able to honor his memory by continuing the work he was so passionate about.”

Stogsdill recalled a time Allen went above and beyond to offer her support.

“The special thing about Dave is he did all of these things with a big heart. He had endured so much that he had a special perspective allowing him to see you,” she said. “We were at a [OCCF] retreat, and I stepped outside. Having recently lost my husband, I just needed a break. He came outside and sat on the patio and said, ‘You may not want to talk right now, and you don't have to. I don’t want you to be by yourself, and I’m willing to sit here with you and not say a word.’ I didn’t even know anybody saw me leave the room, let alone be willing to miss part of the session to make sure a friend knew they had a friend. But, that is Dave, the epitome of good and a true friend.”

Allen is survived by his wife Julie, his children Billy and Katie, daughter-in-law Elizabeth and granddaughter Olivia. He is also survived by his sister Carlena “Jody” Davis. 

“There is nothing he loved more than being a husband, father and papa. He also loved touching the lives of so many of you. I know so many of you have stories of my dad. Words are insufficient to describe how amazingly loved our dad was and there truly are no words to say in times like this. Just know we love and appreciate your prayers and support,” Katie Allen posted on Facebook when announcing her father’s passing. 

Allen’s service took place Thursday June 6, with visitation from 2 p.m. until the start of his service at 6:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, Allen’s family asks for memorial donations to be made to OCCF in his memory to the Dave Allen Memorial Fund

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