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Frederic W. Allen


1926 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Frederic W. Allen

Age: 89 • Shelburne

Frederic W. Allen of Shelburne died at his home, unexpectedly, on April 9, 2016. Fred was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, and a lion of the legal profession. His sharp intellect, unpretentious demeanor, and wry humor were legendary.

Fred was born in Burlington on May 31, 1926, the youngest child of Howard A. and Frances Barnes Allen. He attended Pomeroy School and graduated in 1944 from Burlington High School, where he was class president, played football for Buck Hard, ran the high hurdles, and was captain of the basketball team. (He led the team to a memorable game in the 1944 state tournament at the Barre Auditorium: Montpelier 58- BHS 18.)

Fred enlisted in the Navy immediately after graduation from high school, and was sent first to Alma College in Michigan, and then to Miami University of Ohio, as part of the V-12 officer training program. After graduating from Miami, he attended Boston University School of Law, where he earned his LL.B. in 1951. He then returned to Burlington and joined Hilton Wick and John Dinse at the firm of Edmunds & Austin (later Wick, Dinse & Allen and now, several iterations later, Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew), where he learned from and gained enormous respect for Bill Edmunds. He and John Dinse practiced law together for more than 30 years, and influenced scores of younger lawyers with their gracious professionalism. Fred was a superb trial lawyer, universally respected not only by his clients, but by opposing counsel, other members of the bar, and judges before whom he appeared. He was honored to be named a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1980.

In 1984, Governor Richard Snelling appointed Fred Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, at a time of considerable turmoil at the Court. He retired from the Court in 1997, with its prestige and strength restored, and having won the admiration and affection of a generation of law clerks, the entire court staff, his fellow Justices, and the rest of the judiciary. His written decisions were fair-minded, thoughtful, and even-handed. He wrote with clarity and without pretense.

Fred served as a Trustee of Middlebury College, and was awarded honorary degrees by both Middlebury and Vermont Law School. He was given a Silver Shingle award by BU Law School for service to the profession. He served a term on the Burlington Board of Aldermen in the 1950's, was a trustee of the Bennett C. Douglas School, and led the committee that restored the steeple of the Unitarian Church in Burlington, where he sang in the choir as a boy. He was for many years a member of the Civil Rules Committee of the Vermont Supreme Court, the Board of Bar Examiners, the Professional Responsibility Committee, and the Judicial Conduct Board.

Fred was an accomplished sailor. He raced his Snipe as a child, his Yankee as a young man, and then his Pearson 36, Snow Goose. He bought a boat before a house because "you can't sail a house." He crewed on a number of ocean races, including the Newport to Bermuda Race, and the SORC series. He was a long-time member of the Malletts Bay Boat Club and the Lake Champlain Yacht Club. He was a good skier and a reasonably good handball player, continuing to play until he was almost 80.

Fred leaves his wife, Karen, to whom he was married for 35 years, and four children, each of whom he treasured: his daughters, Kathryn Allen of Fort Myers, FL, Martha Wool and her husband Mike of Charlotte, VT, and Kathy and Martha's mother, Helen (Rusty) Webb; and his sons, Zachariah Hadley Allen and his wife Hayley, of Portland, OR, and Spencer Riley Allen of Denver, CO. He was Poppa Fred to three cherished granddaughters and their husbands, Sara Wool and Gabe Rodriguez, Katie and Travis Gardner, and Ali and Andy Hirt, and six spectacular great-grandchildren, Macie and Will Rodriguez, Eva, Charlotte and Juliet Gardner, and Brody Hirt. He was Uncle Fred to numerous nieces, nephews, and in-laws. He leaves behind scores of friends, including his new best friend, "Woody," the most recent in a long line of black Labs. He was predeceased by his parents, his brothers Howard (Bud) Allen and Monroe Allen, his sister Jane Hadley, and his beloved niece and nephew, Susan Hadley and Jeff Hadley.

At Fred's insistence, there will be no formal service, but there will be a reception in his memory at All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne on Friday, April 15th, between 4 and 7 P.M. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Fred's memory may be made to the United Way of Chittenden County or the Burlington Boys & Girls Club.

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Published in The Burlington Free Press on Apr. 13, 2016
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