Ex.-Gov. Frank Gilman Allen, 76, who from a modest start built a life of public service which carried him to the pinnacles in business and state politics, died yesterday at his Back Bay home.
He was a member of the General Court from 1918 to 1924, lieutenant governor from 1924 to 1928 and governor for the next two years. He entered politics as a Norwood assessor in 1909 after establishing a foothold in business.
He was chairman of the board of directors of Winslow Bros. & Smith Co.. Atlantic Mutual Indemnity Co. of New York; trustee. Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co. of New York; vice president and director of the Boston Chamber of Commerce; trustee of Boston University; director. Boston & Providence Ry. Co.; vice president and director of Brandt leather Co. and president and director of the C. Moulton Stone Co. of Providence and of the Consolidated Investment Trust.
He was director of Dewey & Almy Chemical Company; trustee. Franklin Savings Bank of Boston; director. Hayward-Schuster Woolen Mills; John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company; Norwood Co-Operative Bank and the Union Freight Ry. Company. He was a trustee of Norwood Hospital and Wellesley College and chairman of the trustees of Wrentham State School. He was a director and a member of the executive committee of the State. Street Trust Company.
Among his clubs were the Algonquin of Boston. Exchange of Boston. New University of Boston. The Country Club. Dedham Country and Polo Club. Tedesco Country Club. Essex Country Club. Chatham Country Club. Corinthian Yacht Club. Eastern Yacht Club, Union League Club of New York. Brae Burn Country Club. Franklin Country Club. Norfolk Golf Club and Berkshire Hills Country Club.
A 32d degree Mason and Shriner he was also a member of the B. P. O. E. I. O. O. F.. Knights of Pythias and Loyal Order of Moose.
Father Worked in Tannery
Later, the elder Allen acquired his own leather plant through the same toil that was to carry his son to the heights. Young Allen attended local schools.
He enrolled at Lynn Classical High School and walked five miles daily to classes to save carfare. He became president of the debating society and lieutenant of school cadets. He was fond of swimming, baseball, boxing, boating and skating.
Upon graduation. Allen easily passed Harvard entrance examinations, but gave up the idea of going to college and was entered as a clerk at a local bank. He soon quit.
The smell of leather was in his nostrils. He worked with his father for a short time until he had a chance to step out on his own with a Boston leather firm. He saw no future there.
Later he established himself with a Norwood leather firm. Step by step he worked his way up through the various departments. He was popular with workmen and townspeople alike.
Was Factory Foreman
As a foreman at the Norwood Plant, he was returning from lunch one day when he saw a workman from another department leaving the factory—lunch box under arm.
Where are you going?” Allen asked.
“Home.” was the reply
What’s the matter. Sick?”
“No. I’ve been laid off. There’s no work in my department and I don’t know what I am going to do. I have a wife and four children at home.”
“Well, you just turn around and come back with me,” said Allen “I think I can make a place for you in my department.”
Similar incidents were common-place in Allen’s life.
It was not until he established himself in business that he turned to politics—his father’s wish The elder Allen served in the Lynn City Council for 19 years.
In 1909 he became member of the Board of Assessors at Norwood From 1911 to 1915 he was chairman He went on to become a Selectman and later was chairman of the board.
He was elected to the House in 1918 and served two terms. In 1920 he was elected to the Senate from the Norfolk District and the following year was elected president of that body by unanimous vote of Democrats and Republicans- a distinction accorded no other president of the State Senate.
He left the Senate in 1924 to become Lieutenant Governor, elected by one of the largest majorities ever given a candidate for state office. He was re-elected in 1926.
Attended 2 Sunday Schools
While a member of the General Court he made a special study of taxation and was chairman of the Taxation Committee in both Senate and House. He also made special studies of state finances. Gov. Fuller, under whom Allen was lieutenant governor, once said of Allen that no man had ever served the state with more “fidelity and integrity.”
The Methodist Sunday School and Baptist classes met at different hours. Young Allen asked his mother to allow him to do something few youngsters would care to undertake. He asked, and was granted permission, to attend Sunday schools—every Sabbath.
One of his Sunday School classmates was Henry T. Lummus, now justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. In later life Allen was associated closely with the Norwood Congregational Church, where, he taught Sunday School.
When Allen undertook to campaign for Governor the Republicans were committed to a party platform backing the Volstead Act ‘prohibition’. Public sentiment was contrary.
Joseph R. Ely, able lawyer and popular Democrat from Western Massachusetts, defeated Allen in the gubernatorial election of 1930 Ely’s platform was repeal.
Allen was a direct descendant of Myles Standish.
Services will be private from the family home at 88 Marlborough st., Back Bay.
Ry M. E. HENNESSY