Sunday, April 1, 2012

A to Z Honesty - A is for Allen


I thought I knew everyone in the Ontario community newspaper business but I'd never heard of Bill Allen until 2006 when I applied for a job at his Huntsville Forester. Frankly I don't know how I missed him. He was an institution; a local legend. Gruff-voiced, like he'd had too many long nights and too many whiskies, I later found out the gravel in his voice came from cancer. Like everything he did, he fought it like a man. Not in the comedic sense of men being sick and whiny but in the true sense of the phrase – with guts and grit.

Over the years we've worked together I have seen this strength repeatedly. But also kindness. He was a father figure to so many. A guiding hand with a sense of humour and a bowl of candies on this desk that anyone could help themselves to when two o'clock sugar-lows hit.

A few weeks ago Bill had a devastating heart attack in his office. Brave co-workers saved his life with CPR but his big heart had worked too hard and a lifetime of toil finally caught up to him. I heard yesterday that he died in hospital on Friday night.

Work won't be the same without him. I feel like we've lost our ship's captain. Our direction.

I know what it's like to lose a father and I send all my very best wishes to his lovely family in this terrible time. I hope you can take comfort in the fact that he made a difference in his community and that he was loved.

Funeral information for Bill can be found here: http://billingsleyfuneralhome.com/home/2012/04/in-loving-memory-of-mr-bill-allen/

104 comments:

  1. Awww...that's a very touching way to start the A-Z. Bill would've been proud to be at the figurehead, I'm sure.

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  2. I'm so sorry you've lost a friend Cathy. You've given him a lovely tribute.

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  3. Thanks for that heartfelt start. I wish I knew the man.

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    1. You would have loved him, Sabrina. Everyone did.

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  4. I'm sorry to hear the news, Cathy. This was a lovely tribute.

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    1. Thanks, Laurita. Not the happiest way to start A to Z but it's what is going on in my head and my heart.

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  5. Losing someone special, whether by direct link of blood or a bond formed over time, is something I wish I were not as familiar with. So my condolences to you and others who will miss him.

    This post is a beautiful tribute.

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    1. Thank you so much, Angela. Appreciate your kindness!

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  6. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. My heart goes out to his family, of which you're a member.

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    1. Thanks Kittie. Too true - a small newspaper is very much a family.

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  7. Such a sad time for you all, but what a lovely post. Many sympathies.

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    1. Oh thank you, Su. And thanks for dropping by and following. Hoping you're enjoying A to Z!

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  8. What a nice tribute to Bill Allen. I love guts and grit in both men and women. And, a little bit of gruffness is not a bad thing. At all. I'm sorry you lost your boss but it sounds like you were lucky to have been around him for awhile.

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    1. I was lucky, Rubye. And yes, I love guts and grit, too.

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  9. Oh, Cathy, I'm so sorry to learn he's gone. We need more Bill Allens in the world. It's clear you loved him, and I'm sure many did. My sympathy to you all.

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    1. Thanks, Austan. He really was well known, respected and admired.

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  10. Losing someone is never easy. Thank you for sharing such a nice post with us

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    1. It's not, is it... and the older we get, the more it happens.

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  11. Sorry for your loss, Cathy, but it's good to hear about someone to took life by the horns and didn't back down. It's inspiring.


    Jamie Gibbs
    Fellow A-Z buddy
    Mithril Wisdom

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  12. How sad. I really thought he'd pull through. I'm so sorry for your loss, Cathy. I still remember what it felt like to lose my boss, who was like a father figure to me.

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    1. Thanks, Laura. We were all hoping and praying that he'd make it. He surprised all of us for being so strong and fighting so hard.
      It is hard to lose a boss in such a manner. I'm sure work will be a sombre place on Monday morning.

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  13. He sounds like a typical, old-school editor-publisher — and a prince among men.

    I'm sorry for your loss. But that's great post for starters.

    Can anything good come out of Bracebridge, or Huntsville, or Gravenhurst? Obviously it can! Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Rob. You're right! Of course great things can come from Muskoka!

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  14. Sounds like such a lovely man. Well written tribute!

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  15. What a great way to honor Bill! :)

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  16. Cathy it is a beautiful tribute to a fantastic, man, father, grandfather and boss.

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  17. I'm sorry for your loss. It sounds like he was a great man.

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    1. He was - and his loss will not only be felt by his loved ones and his employees but by everyone in the community.

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  18. A wonderful tribute to someone you knew and cared about. Obviously, he made a positive impact on the lives of those he knew.

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  19. It's always hard when we lose the heroes (and heroines) in our lives. He has such a kindly face, from the photo you've included, that I can imagine the loss that all who worked with him will feel.

    I trust his family and loved ones will take comfort from your tribute to him via this challenge-post and I'm sure we all thank you, Cathy, for helping his memory to live on.

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    1. It's gonna be hard, Sue, no denying it. And thanks for your lovely comment.

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  20. A lovely tribute to someone who meant so much to you. It's so difficult to believe that those bright lights in our life really can be extinguished. The other hard part is trying to pick up the torch and carry on as you know he would have done.

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    1. You're exactly right, Stephanie. They're here - they shine so brightly - and then, like that, they're gone. Thanks so much for dropping round, and for the follow.

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  21. My condolences to all. He sounds like a wonderful hand.

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  22. I'm so sorry for your loss, and for Bill's family. Here's to fabulous lives courageously and kindly lived.

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  23. A beautiful tribute to someone who sounds like the most wonderful person.

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    1. Thanks so much, Amanda, and thanks for the follow!

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  24. What a wonderful tribute to Allen. He sounds like he touched many lives - I look forward to reading your a to z

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    1. Thanks, Judy, for the nice comment and the follow. (Hopefully I'll have something more cheerful to say tomorrow.)

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  25. So sorry for your loss and an excellent tribute.

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  26. What a great tribute and a very appropriate way to start off your A-Z month.

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    1. Thanks, Alan. I sure hope you had a great time with your parents last night. Fifty years of marriage! Wow! Incredible.

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  27. Wow. That's a touching and deeply personal post to kick off the A to Z. True communities are built around people like Bill.

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  28. Cathy, I'm so sorry! Glad you got to know him though.

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  29. I woke Saturday to the sad news. My heart goes out to his lovely wife and children.
    I first met Bill in 2004 I think when I interviewed for a position at the paper. I liked him right away. The day I was to go in and sign my contract I called to see if it was ready and he regretfully informed me that a hiring freeze was put on. I could tell he felt bad. Turned out when I was finally hired in 2008, my contract was still in the files.
    In the years since I started the office Bill has done me a couple favors that I will forever be grateful for. More than once he'd haul me into his office and show me photos he'd caught of something or other but most recently pictures of Emma. He has taken the time for a quick chat...but always a big smile, a wave and a Hello, most often, now I think of it.. in the Canadian Tire parking lot. And he always had that wonderful smile on his face.
    He will be missed. You desribed him how I saw him.
    Your tribute was wonderful.

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    1. Thanks, Lynda. It's going to be really, really weird at work without him.

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    2. my years are messed up.. I met him in 2005 for the first time. He hadn't been at the Forester for long at all at that point. It will be strange with him gone.

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  30. Hi Cathy, my condolences, he sounds like a great man. A really special tribute and a powerful way to start a-z, look forward to reading more.

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    1. Thanks RCH - hopefully future reading will be more lighthearted. You have a pretty fine blog of your own going on, by the way!

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  31. Hi Cathy, my condolences, he sounds like a great man. What a moving tribute and a powerful way to start a-z, look forward to reading more.

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  32. I'm sorry it said my first attempt didn't go through, just delete my second one.

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    1. (Stoopid Blogger, always making life difficult!)

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  33. How terribly sad. His kindness even shows in the photo you added.

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    1. He had a lovely, happy smiling face, that's for sure.

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  34. It is always sad to lose a co-worker. I lost one dear to me once. Very nice and well-written tribute you have written about him, though.

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  35. Sounds like a lovely, lovely man. It's rough losing those we love, and I think we underestimate how much it hurts losing a beloved co-worker we spent many of our waking hours with.

    So sorry for your loss.

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    1. So true! I mean, when we work full time, who do we spend more time with? Our colleagues or our families?

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  36. How wonderful for you that you had the priveledge to know such an inspiring man. Those kind of people make an impression on our lives that stay with us forever. Thank you for sharing a part of him with the rest of us.

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  37. And it sounds like your life was improved just by meeting him. And isn't that a wonderful legacy?

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  38. :( So sad when the world loses such a neat person. I'm sad to hear about the loss, but I think this is a great tribute. :)

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  39. My condolences to everyone who knew him. He sounds like such a kind human being.

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  40. So sorry to hear about the loss of a fine man who inspired many. Wonderful and loving tribute to a friend.

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  41. My heart goes out to Allen, his family, and you and your colleagues. Peace...

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  42. So sorry you lost your friend, and boss. He sounds like a wonderful guy.

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  43. A wonderful tribute, Cathy,

    You're all in my thoughts.

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  44. Aloha Cathy,

    I was just stopping by following your comments on my page, but I'd like to now offer my condolences to the Allen family, and sorry to you that you had to write such a piece.

    It is, however, an excellent tribute, and as a former newspaper man myself, I know bosses like Mr. Allen are few and far between.

    The truth will bounce back, but it took a blow upon the passing of Mr. Allen.

    R.I.P., sir.

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    1. Thanks, Mark. (I love newspaper people, by the way. Nice to meet another one!)

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  45. I am so sorry for your loss. That truly was a lovely tribute to a man who sounded absolutely wonderful.

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    1. Cathy - I am so sad for you. Bill sounds like the kind of guy who is just wonderful to know. What a loss to your work community and your community at large!

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    2. Thanks Susan, thanks Kathy! He certainly was.

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  46. I am sorry for your lost and this is a beautiful piece that honored him well. You did an awesome job!

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  47. Beautiful words for a great man Cathy. You'll miss him and never forget him.
    I can imagine him as a great character in a novel!

    Denise

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  48. How sad. It sounds like this man was one of the true good people. I enjoyed reading your kind words and I am sure that his family must appreciate knowing that he was so liked and admired. Take care.

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  49. I'm so sorry for your loss. And we should all know CPR - hats off to the coworkers.

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    1. Absolutely, Lynn! The strangest/most ironic/best thing about this whole tragic event was that our office had just completed a round of CPR instruction in the weeks previous. Amazing coincidence.

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  50. Im sorry for your lost. Its great to know about Allen on your A post.
    Do check out my B on GAC a-z.

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  51. This is sad news. A nice post to his memory Cathy. ^_^

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    1. Yeah, it was a tough day at the office. Thanks Helen!

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  52. Rest in piece Bill - he sounds like he was an amazing man!

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