Stewart Ellwood Allen died peacefully on February 7, 2015, under Hospice care and in the presence of his two surviving children and their spouses. He was almost 92. Born in Ohio in 1923, he was the son of the late F. Ellwood and Dorothy S. Allen and was also preceded in death by his wife, Sarah Rudisill; daughter, Karen Peck; and sisters, Jean Bird and Anne Allen.
He spent many happy summer days at his grandparentsí cottage on Put-In-Bay. He enjoyed being at or near the water for his entire life. The family moved to Washington, DC in 1935 and to New York in 1938, when the National Recreation Association retained his father, Ellwood, as their Chief Planner. Stewart graduated from Manhasset (LI) High School in 1940 and attended Massachusetts State (now UMass) until the beginning of World War II, completing two years there before going to work for Gibbs and Cox at the Federal Drydock in New Jersey tracing wires and pipes and documenting the final stages of construction of destroyers for the US Navy.
He was drafted into the Army in 1942 and, despite being employed in the defense industry and eligible for deferment, he chose to serve. His military service brought him additional schooling at Clarkson College of Technology. Serving in the infantry in the First Division, he fought in the battle of Aachen, the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, and the Battle of the Bulge. He made friends with a family in Aubel, Belgium at that time which lasted a lifetime and crossed generations of both families. He corresponded for years with the family of a fallen comrade and kept the memory of their son alive. Like many of his generation, he did not talk of his war service until late in his life. Under Jeff Millerís leadership and thanks to fundraising by the people of Hendersonville, Stewart was on the first ever Honor Air flight to Washington, DC and the World War II Memorial, and that flight meant the world to him. He was one of the participants featured in the Honor Air documentary that received national TV coverage.
Stewart and his father formed The Allen Organization in 1945 as an expansion of the recreation planning work that Ellwood had done in the public sector. This first of its kind consulting firm helped private industry, cities and towns establish meaningful long range plans to serve the recreation needs of their people. Stewart served on the Board of the National Parks and Recreation Association and received numerous awards for his long service in the field of recreation including an award of Excellence for the Coal Street Park Ice Skating facility in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Despite all of the national recognition, he was most proud of receiving the Theresa Brungardt Award for Service to Recreation and Parks in Vermont. His passion and vision for making places for all of us to have access to healthy outdoor recreation lives on in neighborhoods and communities across the country. He wrote and published a book on how to combine the public sector and private enterprise to make parks financially sustainable.
After the war, he found the love of his life, Sarah Rudisill of Marshall, NC who was working in upstate New York. They married in 1948 and raised three children, Karen, Deborah, and Craig in Pownal and Bennington, VT. They grew vegetables and found ways to make ends meet while keeping a creaky old farmhouse warm and homey. They saved to put all of their children through college and give them a good start in life. They hosted Fulbright Scholars and international students and those friendships too continue across generations. They retired to Western North Carolina in 1983. Sarah and Stewart travelled the world and loved visiting the National Parks of the US and Canada.
Community service was an integral part of Stewartís life. He served on many community, church, and school boards and was Chair of the Bennington School District where he was very active in promoting the Union High School concept that became Mount Anthony. He was President of the Bennington Rotary Club. In Hendersonville he served as a volunteer guide at the Carl Sandburg Home and at The North Carolina Arboretum. He was President of the Lake Pointe Landing Residents Association for a total of six years, finishing his last term just this past December.
Stewart had a passion for coin collecting and ran a small numismatic business in VT for several years. He was a dowser without ever questioning how it worked, and it worked for him. At the age of 60 he took up walking to take off a few holiday pounds, and it turned into a passion that led him to a goal of walking the distance around the world at the Equator, 24,902 miles. He completed that walk in 2000, despite being waylaid for a time by triple bypass surgery. Most recently, his walking companion was his Boston terrier Tiger, a dog with a heart of gold (and a will to disobey!).
Music and theatre were woven throughout Stewartís life from early family plays to recent dramatic readings in retirement, and he briefly seriously considered acting as a career. He was always a ìham.î He loved Broadway musicals and got to see many of the great performers and plays while living in or visiting New York. There was always a song on his lips and that carries through to his children and their children.
Stewart was a voracious reader who also loved to write. At the age of 89 he completed and self-published a 100 page Memoir that told of his early life through the time he moved to North Carolina. He had an amazing memory for detail, and his mind remained lively and active until the end.
Stewart was devoted to his family and friends and loved sharing a cup of coffee and talking about big and small issues. Strangers were always unmet friends whom he greeted with a smile and a twinkle, and he reached out to those who suffered hardship or loss. His greatest delight was getting people to smile. Beloved by many for his warmth, generosity, and sense of humor, he will be missed by all those privileged to know and love him.
Stewart would have never made it this far without the love and attention of his caregivers, especially Rhonda Harmon, Sherri Griffith, Sherry Helms, Donna Horne and Susie-Q Aruffo, and his friends from his community at Lake Point Landing.
He is survived by his daughter, Deborah Allen and her husband Howard Schein of Urbana, Il; son, Craig Allen and his wife Lynne of Austin, TX; grandchildren, Jennifer Kauffmann and her husband Jeffrey, Cassandra Allen, Stevie Schein, and Zoe Schein; great-grandchild, Morgan Dowling; sister, Barbara Kennedy and her husband John of Ithaca, NY.
A memorial service will be held at 3:30 pm, Friday, February 13, 2015 at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community in the Smoky Mountain Theater, 333 Thompson St, Hendersonville, NC 28792. The family will receive friends following Stewartís service.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to support his granddaughter, Jennyís post lung transplant care at http://www.gofundme.com/makemeabird. Jenny has Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare lung disease.