Robert O. ‘Bob’ Allen
We are all diminished today by the passing from this life of Robert O. Allen, but know we have been enriched by his presence in our lives. Bob died on October 30, 2020 at King’s Daughters Medical Center, the hospital he helped lay the foundation for as a mason’s helper while a teenager.
Born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, on September 29th, 1946, to Lt. Col. Emmette P. Allen and Gertrude Allen, Bob started school in Bordeaux, France, after WW II before moving to Brookhaven. A 1964 graduate of Brookhaven High School, Bob was a varsity letterman in track, baseball and football. He received a scholarship to play free safety for the University of Arkansas, but failed to matriculate from there due to his excellence at extracurricular activities. Instead, Bob graduated from Mississippi College with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology in 1969. With his priorities straight and his beautiful bride, Patricia Black Allen, by his side, Bob completed law school at the University of Mississippi in two years while chairing the Law School Honors Council and working for the Bank of Oxford repossessing automobiles.
After receiving his law degree in 1972, Bob clerked for Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Neville Patterson and prosecuted for the Hinds County District Attorney’s office. Bob eventually returned home to practice with this father where they opened Allen & Allen. Bob practiced law from that day forward in Brookhaven and was joined by his son, Will Allen, in 2001. While Bob began his career in Brookhaven handling domestic and criminal matters, he eventually transformed his practice into one defending governmental entities. In addition to his litigation practice, Bob was the board attorney for the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors for 41 years and the board attorney for the Brookhaven School District for 43 years.
Bob received a multitude of honors during his legal career including being named to the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, America’s Top 100 Attorneys, Super Lawyers and his firm was named by US News and World Reports as a Best Law Firm in America. Bob has long held an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell — the highest rating available.
Bob was a member of the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the Mississippi Bar Association and the Lincoln County Bar Association. He was most active in the Mississippi Bar where he served multiple terms as a bar commissioner, and served on the Ethics, Insurance and Death Penalty Committees. He was also a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation as well as a member of Defense Research Institute, the Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association, National Counsel of School Board Attorneys, Mississippi Counsel of School Board Attorneys (Board of Directors) and the Mississippi Association of County Attorneys.
While Bob was involved in a number of significant lawsuits, he was most proud of his ability to befriend adversaries and clients alike. He was a passionate advocate for his clients but also a gentleman who was forthright and well trusted by the bar and bench. Bob had numerous offers to join large firms throughout his career but was completely satisfied being, as he often said, a “country lawyer.”
Bob loved Brookhaven and invested his time there as president of the Kiwanis club, president of the United Givers fund and president of the Lincoln-Lawrence County Red Cross. He was a proud member of Trustmark National Bank advisory board and also supported Outreach Ministries and the Mississippi Capital Defense Fund. He was involved in the Krewe of Ceres his entire life where he served as a page, an escort and finally King.
Bob coached every level of softball and baseball for his children and many others in the community. He built a batting cage in his backyard to give not only the players on his teams extra practice but anyone who needed it. It was not unusual to find him throwing batting practice for an opposing team hours before game time, and he was well known for blaring “pump up music” to encourage his players. He had the unique ability to make kids comfortable and confident at crucial moments during games regardless of skill level. While he asked for kids to give every game their all, telling them “no guts, no glory,” he often tempered that by telling them that regardless of what happened, “the sun would come up the next day.” Much to Pat’s chagrin, Bob gave yearly demonstrations on the proper method for executing a hook slide, often in slacks and a button down. His proudest baseball moment was the 1984 City Baseball Championship where he coached an underdog team to victory.
Bob was a lifelong member of First Baptist Church where he was Chairman of the Deacons as well as Chairman of the Finance, Policy and Wee Care committees. He was also a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist where he loved to sneak his high school boys off for a big breakfast. Bob regularly attended Faith Presbyterian Church so that his grandchildren, Sam and Lucy Allen, could sit with both their parents and grandparents.
He leaves behind his wife Patricia Black Allen; his daughter Julie Allen Foncea and husband Dr. Pablo Foncea, Knoxville, TN; his son Will Allen and wife Jenny Allen, Brookhaven, MS; his sister Betty Allen Tucker, and husband Jim Guy Tucker, Little Rock Arkansas; as well four grandchildren: Jacob Foncea and wife Clayton, Janie Foncea, Sam Allen and Lucy Allen. Bob also leaves behind a multitude of family members who mourn his passing: Charles Underwood, Lance Alworth Jr., Kelly Driscoll, David Morgan, Anna Ashton, Michelle Staub, Sarah Tucker Piccolo and Phillip Morgan. Bob was preceded in death by his parents Lt. Col. Allen and Gertrude Allen, his father-in-law and hunting partner A.G. Black, mother-in-law Rosalind Black and sister-in-law Becky Black Morgan.
While a tireless advocate for his clients and those he loved, he relished quietly serving others without recognition. A 25-year chip member of Alcoholics Anonymous and his participation in Walk to Emmaus were integral to who he became later in life. He was a difference maker.
Bob filled up every room he ever entered; he loved and was loved fiercely. His legacy to his children and grandchildren is undergirded by the belief that faith is expressed by action. He taught them to run to an emergency instead of running away, to look for ways to help others and to do the hard things with everything you have. He loved quiet mornings on a river or lake with his fly rod. He also loved fall mornings, hot coffee, the smell of gun oil, the sound of duck wings before daylight, good dogs, the sound of a bream hitting a popping bug, and his wife, children and grandchildren. The last time he saw his wife Pat, while hospitalized with COVID, he remarked to his nurse, “Isn’t she the most beautiful woman you have ever seen?” He assured everyone around him that he knew he had “married up.”
We are absolutely certain that when he arrived in heaven, he looked for a jury to say his favorite words: “Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury.” After that he found a campfire to sit around and tell tall tales to all of the friends and family waiting to embrace him. He fought the good fight and finished the race. Now he is finally home.
A funeral will be held at a date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial gifts in his name to the Brookhaven Separate School District or World Vision.