John F. Allee
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NEWARK: Local photographer John F. Allee, who photographed everything from four presidents to some "mighty fine cows," died July 3, 2012.
He was an Advocate news photographer in the 1970s and then a freelancer for 34 years, known for his photos of the Licking County Courthouse, sports, and hundreds of local families. The Hospice of Central Ohio unit at Licking Memorial Hospital provided shelter due power outages. He died there with his wife at his side, following a two-year illness.
A celebration of life for Allee, 71, of Newark, will be 1 pm, Sat., July 28, at Marne United Methodist Church, 1019 Licking Valley Rd NE, Marne. Lunch will be served during an open mic session for friends and family to share memories and observations.
The family will exhibit Allee's photographs and friends and former customers are invited to bring own their favorites for display. Reservations are helpful but not required by calling 740-345-6711,e-mailing JudithAllee@yahoo.com, or for those with a Facebook account, by registering on-line at https://www.facebook.com/events/394019283994704/.
Following a career as photojournalist for the Advocate and the Marion Consumer News, Allee was owner-operator of Allee Photography from 1977-2011 with his wife, Judith Waite Allee. They traveled with their daughter, Nancy, to 14 states photographing conferences and events and visiting homeschool host families en route. His wife co-authored Educational Travel on a Shoestring, based in part on those experiences.
In the 9th grade, Allee ruined the first roll of film he tried to develop. Intrigued rather than discouraged, he became a high school and college yearbook photographer, graduating in Fine Arts from Ohio University with a major in photography.
Allee wrote on his website that when he left Cincinnati for his job at The Newark Advocate, friends thought he was being "banished to the boonies" and wondered what he would photograph-cows and sunsets? The joking didn't bother him, and living in a rural community became more of an escape than banishment.
"I admit I've photographed some beautiful sunsets and some mighty fine-looking cows," he quipped, "but also four U.S. presidents and events ranging from sports to human interest stories. I've been blessed"
The largest group he photographed was almost 300 clowns at ClownTown, a Newark event. One of his photographs of the Licking County Courthouse at Christmas was published on the county telephone book cover and county map.
Allee also sold thousands of courthouse photos, finding that some customers bought multiple copies to send around the world to family members and friends, especially those in the military.
The late Bruce Humphrey, who was editor at the Newark Advocate when Allee worked there, asked Allee to pick out his all-time favorite photo and write about it. Humphrey posted the photo and an article at http://newarkteaparty.com/h/allee.html. The photo captured eight children with disabilities playing "follow the leader," an example of "the Decisive Moment" concept of famed photojournalist, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Allee wrote this about his favorite photo:
"That these were just kids having fun became the concept of the project. Granted, if you look closely you can tell the kids probably have a disability of some sort. To me they are just kids. They are more like other kids than they are different. I know that there are a lot of people out there who can't see that. I have probably applied for a job from a number of them and my physical deformities were all they saw."
He was referring to congenital bone anomalies that caused some people to make assumptions about his physical or mental abilities.
Aside from photography, his hobby was working on his 1820 log home on Chickenville Hill in eastern Licking County. Considered an "uninhabitable dwelling" when he purchased the home in the mid-1970s, he weathered a winter with an outhouse, then installed "indoor facilities." For guests, he provided a large piece of cardboard on which he wrote "door."
Through many years of work on the house, reputed to have been a stagecoach stop and a stop on the Underground Railroad, his long-term goal was to preserve it for another generation.
His wife is opening the historic homestead to visits from friends and family members before the home goes up for sale.
Allee was past president of the Moundbuilders Toastmasters club and one-time winner of Toastmasters' central Ohio speech contest. He was a member of Licking County Arts, where he exhibited two one-man shows: Alaska-Land of Contrast, from his three-month sabbatical trip in 1973, and a retrospective in 1985.
He also was a longtime member of the Licking County Computer Society and its digital photography group and past member of several professional photographer and child advocacy groups for foster care and adoption. He volunteered with Mental Health America during the 14 years his wife worked there.
Born June 27, 1941, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Allee was son of the late Frances "Hank" and Emma (Slaughter) Allee.
Surviving are his wife, whom he married March 8, 1980; daughter; and grandson, Noah John Allee, all of Newark; sisters, Donna Frazee and Shirley Brooks, both of Cincinnati; nieces; nephews; former foster children and friends; including special friends, David Levingston, Don Smith, Jim Shaw and Linda Hunkins.
Memorial contributions may be sent to Moundbuilders Toastmasters Club, c/o 9383 Swamp Rd., Hebron OH 43025, to create a scholarship fund for adults with an important message who want to communicate it more effectively.
An on-line guestbook at a memorial website is at www.forevermissed.com/john-florain-allee.
Allee's printable poem called A Father's Hands is posted there, illustrated with a photo of his hands. The poem reads:
His doctor said, "They will be very limited."
His mother said, "They are beautiful. They can do anything."
The other kids just pointed and laughed.
His friends forgot why they had thought he looked strange.
His wife never noticed. She saw a man with love in his heart.
His daughter said. "Daddy, how do you do so many amazing things with your hands?"
John says, "We are all in Our Father's hands."
Published in the The Advocate from July 18 to July 19, 2012
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