Allen remembered for generosity, integrity
By Lynn R. Parks
Charles Allen was well-known throughout the community for financial contributions to several organizations. But, said Seaford Mayor Dan Short, Allen was generous with more than just money.
“He was giving,” Short said. “He was genuine. You could always expect a good word from him.”
Allen, 84, died Wednesday, Jan. 8, in Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford. He had been in the hospital for five weeks.
Allen was former president of Allen’s Hatchery, the business his parents, Charles Sr. and Nellie, started in 1919. The hatchery and its sister company, Allen Foods, processes about 2.5 million chickens a week and packs more than 500 million pounds of poultry products a year. The company employs about 2,500 people.
Allen and his brother, Warren, Seaford, have donated millions of dollars to community projects. Most recently, the new thrift shop run by the Soroptomist Club of Seaford was dedicated the Nellie G. Allen Curiosity Shop at Soroptimist Park after the brothers contributed a significant portion of the shop’s $700,000 renovation cost.
Dolores Slatcher, a member of the Soroptimist Club who worked with Allen on its renovation, said that she was most impressed with his integrity. “He gave his word and he expected other people to make things happen,” she said. “Our new building is attractive, but it is more than just a building, just bricks and mortar. It is filled with a son’s love for his mother.”
“He was a person, a gentle-
man, who saw things that could benefit a lot of people and do the community a lot of good and was willing to come forward,” Short said. “He would jump in and support something, causing many to follow. He set the pace and he set the level.”
Short said Allen’s generosity extended beyond finances. “Some years ago, when I was fire chief, it was not unusual to see him stop at early-morning fires,” Short said. “He was out and about and he would stop to find out how things were going. He would always ask if there was anything he could do to help, or if he could go get us some coffee. One time, he gave me his cup of coffee and said that he would get another cup on his way through town.
“His position was such that he didn’t have to do things like that. But he was willing to be friends.”
Arlene Littleton is executive director of Sussex County Senior Services. She said that without the more than $1 million contribution by Warren and Charles Allen, the new CHEER community building in Georgetown would not have been built. In their honor, the building is called the Warren G. and Charles C. Allen Jr. CHEER Community Center. More than 40,000 people a year use the facility, which opened in 1999 and which includes a 700-person auditorium, a café, a barber shop, a massage therapy room and a fitness center.
“The Allens are great people,” Littleton said. “They are very unusual. They care about the community and about senior citizens.”
Littleton added that the Allens’ donation is the largest the agency has ever received. “We have never gotten anything close,” she said.
The Allens contributed to the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club, Seaford, the Little League park, Seaford, and the Seaford Mission at the corner of Third and North streets, Seaford. They also gave money to the Seaford Historical Society for its new downtown museum in the old post office.
“They were the first people to come forward and say, ‘We want this building saved,’ “ said Anne Nesbitt, spokeswoman for the historical society.
In 1994, Charles gave $1 million to the University of Delaware, his alma mater, for a biotechnology lab for poultry research.
Allen was on the board of trustees of the Seaford Historical Society. “He was a very wise person,” Nesbitt said. “He could always add a point of view that you knew was of long-term value. He was a very kind, gentle person.”
“He was just a warm person,” Short added. “He was always looking for the good things in life.”
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