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Ivan Allen Jr.

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IVAN ALLEN, JR. Ivan Allen, Jr., mayor of Atlanta from 1962-1970, died in Atlanta on Wednesday, July 2, 2003. He was 92. Ivan Allen was born in Atlanta on March 15, 1911, the son of Ivan Allen, Sr. and Irene Beaumont Allen.Ivan Allen, Jr. attended the Spring Street School and Boy's High before graduating from Georgia Tech with a BS in Commerce in 1933. While at Georgia Tech, he served as President of the Student Body and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.Upon graduation he began his lifetime of work at Ivan Allen Company, the office supply and furniture company his father had founded in 1900. He was President of Ivan Allen Company from 1946 to 1970 and Chairman from 1970 to 1995. With his late son, Ivan Allen, III, he built the Company into the region's preeminent office supplies and furniture dealer, with seventeen offices across the South. In 1999, the supplies division of Ivan Allen Company was sold to Staples, Inc. The furniture division, now called Ivan Allen Workspace, is headed by his son, Inman.Mr. Allen served as a supply officer in the United States Army during World War II. Following the war, he held the post of Executive Secretary to Georgia Governor M.E. Thompson and served as Chief of Staff to Governor Ellis Arnall.He was President of the Atlanta Community Chest and United Way, President of the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and President of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. As President of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in 1961, he proposed the Six Point Forward Atlanta program, which became the cornerstone of his platform in his successful campaign for Mayor in 1961.During his two terms as Mayor of Atlanta, Ivan Allen played a key role in bringing Major League Sports to Atlanta, as the city built Atlanta Stadium for the Braves and Falcons. He saw to the development of the Atlanta Civic Center and presided over the creation of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, which would take over the old Atlanta Transit system and build the MARTA rail system.Atlanta also began a phase of rapid growth during his tenure with the completion of the downtown expressway system and the establishment of the first direct international air routes.Under Mayor Allen's leadership, Atlanta served as a model for America's cities during the turbulent years of the civil rights movement. He was the only elected official from the South to testify before the United States Senate on behalf of President John F. Kennedy's Public Accomodations bill in 1963. He was a friend to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and hosted a dinner in his honor on behalf of the City when Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1966. When Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, Atlanta was peaceful as the city hosted thousands of visitors and dignitaries attending Dr. King's funeral.Mayor Allen went to Paris to represent the City of Atlanta when an Air France jet carrying 132 passengers and crew, including 106 of Atlanta's arts and business leaders, crashed at Orly Field in June of 1962. From that tragedy, in which many of Mayor Allen's close friends lost their lives, came the founding of the Memorial Arts Center, later named the Woodruff Arts Center, under the auspices of the Atlanta Arts Alliance, which Allen chaired in the 1970's.He was a close friend of countless business and political leaders whom he called on often to help move Atlanta forward. Mr. Robert W. Woodruff was one of his strongest supporters because they shared the same ambition that Atlanta be a great city.With friends Mills B. Lane, Jack Glenn, Philip Alston, Richard Rich, Lawrence Gellerstedt, Jr., and others, Mayor Allen founded The Commerce Club as a venue for business networking and hospitality. He served as Chairman until his death. In 1999, The Commerce Club created the Ivan Allen, Jr. Leadership Award, which is presented annually. He was an active member of the Atlanta Rotary Club since 1939. He was also a member of the Piedmont Driving Club, the Capital City Club and the Homosassa Fishing Club. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta where he served as an elder for many years.Ivan Allen served on the Boards of Directors of the Atlanta Braves, Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, Southern Airways, Cox Broadcasting Corporation, the Mead Corporation, Rich's, Inc., and the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the Georgia Tech Foundation. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, Spelman College, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Commission, and the Atlanta Arts Alliance. He served on the Rockefeller Commission on Critical Choices for Americans.He was a founding member of the Peachtree Golf Club. A fine golfer in his youth, Allen gave up golf during his terms of public service, only to later return to the game he loved for many years. He was pictured in a rocking chair on the porch of his beloved Peachtree Golf Club in a Golf Digest article about revered senior members of clubs. In his later years, he spent most of his afternoons at Peachtree Golf Club. Many Atlantans will remember Ivan Allen for his lifelong support of his college fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, as he hosted the annual Ivan Allen Rush Party in the meadow behind his home for many years.Following his years as Mayor, Allen made several safaris to Africa. One safari nearly ended his life when he was bitten by an infected tsetse fly and became seriously ill with African Sleeping Sickness.Mr. Allen is the author, with Paul Hemphill, of "Mayor: Notes on the Sixties". Ivan Allen and his family are the subjects, along with former Mayor Maynard Jackson and his family, of "Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn" by Gary M. Pomerantz.He won the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize in 1981 and received the WSB Radio-Atlanta Gas Light Company Shining Light Award in 1995. He was awarded a Doctor of Public Service degree from Georgia Tech, and honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Morris Brown College, Juniata College, Clark College, Morehouse College, LaGrange College, Emory University, and Davidson College. In 1990, Georgia Tech named its liberal arts college the Ivan Allen College. The Atlanta Braves museum and hall of fame at Turner Field is named in his honor. A statue of Ivan Allen, Sr., Ivan Allen, Jr., and Ivan Allen, III was commissioned for the 1996 Olympic Games and stands in Centennial Olympic Park adjacent to the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce headquarters.He is survived by his wife of sixty-six years, Louise Richardson Allen. He was predeceased by his eldest son, Ivan Allen, III, in 1992. He is survived by his sons Hugh Inman and Beaumont, daughters-in-law Margaret (Mrs. Ivan Allen, III), Tricia (Mrs. Hugh Inman Allen) and Sally (Mrs. Beaumont Allen). He also leaves behind seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The family wishes to express its gratitude to Mayor Allen's longtime executive assistant, Linda Mulla, and his caregivers Martha Smith, Horace Jenkins, Gloria Reynolds, and the exceptional staff of Menders Incorporated and The Mann House, Ltd.A funeral service is planned for two p.m., Monday, July 7, at the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, 1328 Peachtree Street. (Parking will be available across the street.) Interment at Westview Cemetery. Visitation will be Sunday, July 6 from 2 until 5 p.m. and Monday July 7 from 9 a.m. until 12 noon at the Galleria of Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center. Memorial contributions may be made to the Ivan Allen Fund at Ivan Allen College at Georgia Tech or to the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. Arrangements by H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill Chapel, 1020 Spring St. 404-876-1022.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from July 6 to July 7, 2003
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