Charles Edward Allen, Jr.
Charles Edward Allen, Jr., age 83, passed away on January 8, 2014.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Charles E. Allen, Sr. & Martha Belle Byrd Allen, & his brother, Thomas Byrd Allen.
He is survived by his loving wife of nearly 60 years, Grace Scruggs Allen; children, Thomas E. Allen, Jenny (Jack) Cunningham, and David (Lissa) Allen. Grandchildren include Grace Ann (Matthew) Lukach, Molly Cunningham, Jack & Cate Allen, and great-grandson, Brooks Lukach, along with his sister-in-law, Ruth Orr Allen and several nieces, nephews & cousins.
Born in Louisville, KY on December 14, 1930 and known as "Charlie," he graduated from Male High School. In 1952, Charlie received his BS degree from Maryville College, where he was captain of the football team & co-captain of the basketball team. In 1978 he was named to the Maryville College Athletic Hall of Fame and 1997 he received their Distinguished Alumni Award. While at Maryville, he met his wife, Gracie. They married in 1954.
Charlie earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary in 1955. He was chaplain of Culver Military Academy in 1955-56. From 1957-61, he was a minister, counselor and high school coach in Bristol, TN. He moved to Nashville in 1963, where he lived for over 50 years. From 1963-65 he was Director of Youth Activities at First Presbyterian Church. From 1966-72 Charlie was Director of Youth Ministries at Martha O'Bryan Center.
In 1967 he received a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from George Peabody College at Vanderbilt University and in 1996 received the Peabody College at Vanderbilt University "Apple Award" for outstanding service to children. In 1999 he received their Distinguished Alumni Award, as well. In 1973 he created the first Childcare Center for the University of Tennessee at Nashville.
In 1978 Charlie started the "DreamHouse" project, the building of small indoor playhouses for preschool & kindergarten children. With free instructions and easily built, and with all resources and labor having been donated, there are currently over 10,000 DreamHouses in the US and various parts of the world. For every DreamHouse that was built, Charlie planted tulip trees to replace the wood used. Former Mayor Phil Bredesen declared Nashville the "First DreamHouse City in the Nation." In 1996, he constructed an authentic replica of an 1800s flatboat to draw attention to the DreamHouse Project. In 1988, in an effort to raise money for the Edgehill Community Center, where he was a board member, Charlie constructed a circa late-1700s raft and, for 16 days, floated down the Cumberland River, being the first to go through the Old Hickory Lake Locks in 50 years.
In 1974 he founded Authentique, a décor-acquisition business, and was responsible for many of the authentic items used to decorate the Opryland Theme Park. Authentique provided the décor for the TGI Friday's restaurant chain worldwide for nearly 30 years and in 1997 Charlie was honored with the first TGI Fridays Worldwide "Living Legend Award".
Throughout his life, Mr. Allen was active in the community, serving on numerous boards and committees. For this, he received a number of awards and much recognition. He was the first recipient of the Mary Catherine Strobel Award for "Outstanding Volunteer of the Year" in 1987. He received the Civitan Club Crownover Award for "Nashville Citizen of the Year" in 1985. In 1995 Charlie received both the "Outstanding Service Award" from the TN Association for the Education of Young Children and the Community Service Award presented by the Junior League of Nashville. He also received the Rotary Club's highest award, the "Paul Harris Founder Medal."
As a founding member of the Green Hills YMCA, Charlie was, for decades, noted for his prowess on the basketball court. In 1996, along with his wife Gracie, Charlie received from the Greater Nashville YMCA "Members of the Year" as well appointment to the "Wall of Fame" at the Green Hills YMCA. "He made a positive difference in so many lives!"
Special thanks to caregivers Rodney Phillips, Barry Braden and Rick Anderson.
Visitation will be held on Monday, January 13, 2014 from 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Service will immediately follow the visitation.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you send donations to Second Harvest Food Bank.
. Crawford Mortuary & Crematory, (615) 254-8200.
Published by The Tennessean from Jan. 10 to Jan. 11, 2014.