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Allen Van Cleve Davis


1924 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Allen Van Cleve Davis Obituary
August 8, 1924 - December 25, 2015 Allen Van Cleve Davis was born in Seattle, Washington, the first of four sons born to Warren Rawson and Ruth Allen Davis. He passed at his home in La Cañada, California, after a long illness with Parkinson's disease. As a boy Allen liked to build model airplanes and study their flight; making changes and experimenting to see what worked best. This was no surprise to his mother who was Orville and Wilbur Wright's second cousin. When Allen was ten years old, he met Orville at his home in Dayton, Ohio. Allen's middle name is a family name. The Wright Brothers best-selling bicycle was named "The Van Cleve." At age 13, Allen's family moved to Burbank, California, when his father was transferred to work for IBM at Lockheed Aircraft. Allen attended Burbank High School and graduated at age 16 to attend UCLA in pursuit of a degree in Industrial Engineering. World War II interrupted his education. He left UCLA to enlist but was rejected due to having a double hernia. Allen worked hard throughout the war learning manufacturing methods and helping his parents put food on the table for their family of six. After the war he and his Dad started a business on San Fernando Road. One of their first jobs was making sprinkler parts. Allen's first patent filing was for a new sprinkler design. Even though he was working full time to keep up with the new customer orders, he returned to finish his university education. At the age of 38, Allen graduated with a degree from USC in Industrial Engineering. In 1948, after three years of courtship, Allen married Lenabelle Berg, the youngest of four daughters of Letha and Carl Berg. Allen and Lenabelle continued to live in Burbank having two children, Joann and Edward. Following their marriage, the two started the successful engineering and manufacturing company named Hydra-Electric Co. Their first job was a half-million dollar order for pressure switches that Allen had designed for Lockheed. In 1957, they formed Custom Control Sensors in Chatsworth to expand his business beyond aerospace applications. Their engineered products and patented pressure switches are used extensively by the aircraft industry and by NASA on manned and unmanned missile flights. Allen obtained 24 patents between 1956 and 1992. Because Allen and Lenabelle felt strongly about higher education and advanced research, they contributed generously to Caltech. They endowed two chairs, one in Biology and one in Economics and Social Sciences. Allen and Lenabelle enjoyed skiing, traveling the world with family and friends, dancing, and fast cars. They were married for 60 years. Allen is survived by his three brothers, their children, Joann and Edward, their spouses, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Allen believed "You ought to leave the world better than you found it."
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Mar. 29 to Apr. 10, 2016
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