Neil Walsh Allen, writer, died Oct. 27 at La Porte Hospital in La Porte, IN of pulmonary fibrosis. He was born August 21, 1945 in Aurora, IL. He earned a B.A. in Classical Languages and Literature at the University of Chicago where he helped organize the Student Woodlawn Areas Project (S.W.A.P), a student organization that provided tutoring and other services to high school students in the Woodlawn area. While working at S.W.A.P, he met his future wife and life-long companion, Roberta, who he married on July 22, 1967. In high school on the south side of Chicago he developed an enduring interest in jazz and blues. In college and after graduation he played keyboards for a blues band, The Home Juice Company, which appeared at venues in Chicago and New York City. He eventually became a free-lance writer and producer, founding his own company, Neil Allen Productions, which produced a wide range of business and educational communications. His largest project was in 1973 when he produced audiovisual exhibits for the then newly constructed Hall of Photography for the Smithsonian Institution. Neil was very much interested in all aspects of photography. In 1975 he co-authored with Joel Snyder a seminal article in photographic theory "Photography, Vision and Representation" for Critical Inquiry, a leading journal in the field of critical theory in the humanities published by the University of Chicago Press. During the last years of his life Neil was employed by the legal publishing firm Commerce Clearing House, from which he retired in the summer of 2010 as Senior Public Relations Specialist. The passion he had for gardening led him and his wife to purchase a farm in Galien, Michigan on which they developed a small lavender and dried flower business over the last 13 years. He was a voracious reader and gourmet cook, loving nothing so much as to enjoy conversation with friends around a well-laden table. He is survived by his wife, Roberta Allen, of Chicago; his daughter Jessica Allen (Tom Stephens) of Clearwater, FL; his son, Mark (Aletheia) Allen of Chicago and his mother, June Allen of Gainesville, Florida. A Memorial Service will be held between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday, Dec. 4, at Bond Chapel on the University of Chicago campus. Donations in his memory may be made to The Jazz Foundation of America, 322 West 48th St., 6th Floor, New York, New York 10036 or the American Lung Association.
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MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
I had the pleasure of working with Neil for a number of years at CCH. We had lost touch over the last few, but when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire hit the airwaves a few years ago, I knew who I would have chosen for phone a friend. How could such a humble man possess all that knowledge?
November 19, 2010
I first met Neil when a group of fellow employees organizated a group to cut down the buckthorne all around the CCH property. He share the love of the woods and the flowers which could be seen after cut back the buckthorne bush. I will also miss the many fruit he use to share with everyone in the lobby. I will miss him.
November 4, 2010
To the family of the brighest, talented man I had the opportunity of working with. Neil shared stories of how he grew up and sat and read books up in trees. Neil was an asset to his family, friends,CCH and his community. I had the opportunity to learn from Neil when he spoke I listened and gathered some of the knowledge he shared. It was a privilege working with Neil--and since my retirement in 1995 he was thought of and missed.
November 4, 2010
What a wonderful colleague Neil was to so many of us at CCH over so many years. A talented writer and generous, gentle soul, he will be missed by all who knew him.