November 12, 1995
TO say a well-loved and well-known citizen will be missed has become a cliche. To say it about Dan Allen is an understatement.
Daniel Richard Allen, 65, best known for his tireless work on behalf of Tulsa's poor, died Sunday evening November 12, 1995 of a brain tumor. A former parish priest, Allen worked closely with poor people, an experience that inspired him to found Neighbor for Neighbor in 1966. He resigned the priesthood in 1973 to devote all his energies to the fledgling poverty agency.
The agency, which to this day subsists entirely on donations, has expanded since then to offer an array of services, including free dental and medical care, legal services, money management classes, grocery and clothing stores, and a "safe house" for children. Neighbor for Neighbor went on to receive much regional and national attention, and served as a model for other similar organizations.
Neighbor for Neighbor, which through the years has had the good fortune to be guided by a board of compassionate and dedicated Tulsans, was continuing to expand its services when Allen became ill. It was always his vision that the agency should help poor people learn to become self-sufficient, and his latest projects reflected that aim. One was computer training classes, and another, still in the formative stages, is a "micro-lending" program developed by poor people for poor people. Another was a means for poor people to qualify to buy their own homes. More safe houses to provide children with secure learning environments after school also are planned.
The scrappy little agency Allen founded also was the incubator for some concepts that went on to become important fixtures in Tulsa, such as the Tulsa Community Food Bank, the magnet schools program and legal services program.
To those who didn't know him, the gruff and plain-spoken Allen may have seemed an unlikely candidate to be the chief advocate for local poor people. But to those who knew him well, those traits and others made him the lovable and unforgettable character that he was.
The people who Allen brought on board and trained in poverty-fighting techniques no doubt will try hard to carry out the vision that the once-dubbed "radical priest" strived for his entire adult life. They will succeed, because his dedication, enthusiasm and tirelessness were infectious. But they will never replace him.
Dan Allen was one of a kind.