Daniel Spencer Allan
July 12, 1940 - July 24, 2018
Dan died on July 24, 2018 after a full and eventful seventy-eight years of life. He survived metastatic prostate cancer for two years and remained full of life and in good spirits to the end.
Predeceased by his parents and brother Christopher, Dan is survived by his wife of 35 years, Elizabeth (Liz), son Timothy, daughter Nora, sister Catherine, and brother Andrew – as well as his niece, nephews, cousins and their children scattered widely through the West and around the globe.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, the eldest of four to Robert E. and Patricia M. (Hugg) Allan, Dan spent his early years in the wild western edge of Dearborn during the 1940s. Dan excelled in school and was valedictorian of his Rochester High School class of 1958 before attending Yale University where he received his B.S. in Physics in 1962. He followed that with a M.S. in Semiconductor Physics from Purdue University in 1964, during which he got his first "dream job" as night-shift operator of the school's new mainframe computer, the massive IBM 7090. Two more dream jobs followed – a summer job at Los Alamos, New Mexico working with nucleonic systems and then a permanent position at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California where he helped develop NASA's Deep Space Network, used to communicate with astronauts and satellites that explored the solar system and beyond. He earned a M.S. in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University and joined the Stanford Research Institute (SRI International) as a telecommunications consultant for 30 years, playing a key role in developing Kuwait's telecommunications system as well as the statewide telecommunications network for Alaska. For both work and pleasure, he travelled through much of Europe, the Middle-East, Asia, South America, and Australia.
Though Dan considered himself a true engineer in terms of his stubbornness and ingenuity, his passions reached farther and included cooking, wine, music (the Yale Glee Club, the Society of Orpheus & Bacchus, and the Yale Alumni Chorus), theater (lead roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas with the Stanford Savoyards), and the outdoors. Among his favorite memories were camping with family and close friends in the Minarets region of the Sierras and at Wonder Lake in full view of Denali. He considered the wilderness to be his "church".
Dan was a true character and will be remembered by all who knew him for his tall tales, outrageous stories, and countless 25-cent bets over dubious claims. He delighted in absurdity, often pointing it out with mock sternness: "Now wait just a minute…", an indulgent drawl "You guys…", or best of all, with his wonderful hearty laugh. He took pride in being the loudest, most embarrassing dad on the sidelines of his children's childhood sports games and taught them how to spot BS from a mile away, which backfired on him beautifully and often.
His only regret was never winning the Nobel Prize - which might have happened, he would quip, if he hadn't peaked quite so early. Despite that one concession, he considered his life to be one exceptionally well-lived.
A celebration of his life is planned in October.