Ray R. Allen
|Ray R. Allen|
Ray Robert Allen
|Born||Ray Robert Allen
July 5, 1920
Yell County, Arkansas, USA
|Died||April 6, 2010
|Resting place||Alexandria Memorial Gardens|
|Alma mater||Newellton High School
La Salle Extension University
|Occupation||Public official; Businessman|
|Spouse(s)||Lily Hinds Allen|
Gale A. Henry
Ray Robert Allen (July 5, 1920 – April 6, 2010) was a municipal public official and banker in Alexandria, Louisiana, who, in 1977, was secretary-treasurer and then finance director when the city converted from the commissioner to the mayor-council form of government.
Allen was born in Yell County, Arkansas, to Frank F. Allen and the former Martha Walker. The family moved to Tensas Parish in northeastern Louisiana, where Allen graduated from the since defunct Newellton High School in Newellton. He served in the United States Army Air Corps. Allen studied accounting at Alexandria Business College and LaSalle Extension University, a correspondence school based in Chicago.
Alexandria municipal finance
In 1947, Allen began his municipal tenure as a cashier and then an accountant in the Alexandria finance department. From 1963-1977, while he was the Alexandria secretary-treasurer, the city budget grew from $9 million to $40 million. His municipal service spanned the administrations of Mayors Carl B. Close (1947–1953), W. George Bowdon, Jr. (1953–1969), Ed Karst (1969–1973), John K. Snyder (first term from 1973–1977), and Carroll E. Lanier (first two years, 1977–1979).
At the time of his retirement from the city service in January 1979, Allen told the Alexandria Daily Town Talk that some mayors and commissioners had objected when he prevented their utilization of city funds for questionable purposes. At the time, Allen said, "Everybody wanted the city finances for something different. Everybody had a pet project ... If some of them had had their way, they'd have taken all of the city's money and put it in their own special projects and left nothing for anyone else. So it was a continual war keeping them from gaining control of the finances of the city," Allen said.
Allen noted that different city commissioner often pressured him to permit spending of funds for their own projects: "I made a lot of people mad by following the law. They wanted to get rid of me, and if I played the political game, they might have. They were looking for ways to put me in jail, but I followed the law, and they couldn’t do it. I won my battle, and they lost."
He credited Lanier with bringing stability to municipal finances, both as finance and utilities commissioner from 1969–1973 and as mayor for a five-and one-half-year term beginning in 1977. Lanier was unseated as commissioner in 1973 by businessman and attorney Arnold Jack Rosenthal, who thereafter convinced the council to hire Velda Mae LaBorde Lee (1935–2011) of rural Flatwoods in Rapides Parish as an internal auditor to check Allen's financial practices. Formerly of Union Parish in north Louisiana, Lee was an honor graduate of Louisiana Tech University and obtained a master's degree in accounting from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She was only the second woman in Louisiana to obtain CPA designation. Later she was finance director in the second Snyder administration.<
When Rosenthal criticized Allen for "insubordination", as reported by The Town Talk, Allen sued for defamation but won no judgment. Snyder fired Allen in 1977, but Lanier quickly elevated him to the new finance director position. Lanier was unseated by Snyder in 1982, who served a second four-year term amid much controversy.
After leaving city service, Allen was affiliated with First Bank for ten years, having retired as a bank officer. He also worked as an accountant for Petron Inc., and he did bookkeeping for the Masonic Children's Home in Alexandria.
Allen was a deacon at the large Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria and a former member of Parkview Baptist Church. He was often called upon to lead the invocation at city council meetings. He was affiliated with the Masonic lodge. A superior ping pong player, Allen often competed with students at Louisiana College in Pineville. He died of natural causes at the age of eighty-nine at his Alexandria residence at 3807 Gingerbread Road. He was predeceased by his wife, the former Lily Hinds (February 4, 1928 – September 19, 2007, a daughter of Mumford Hinds (1888-1971) and the former Lola Walker of Ajax, an unincorporated community in Natchitoches Parish. Ray and Lily married in Shreveport; their mothers coincidentally had the maiden name "Walker" but were unrelated.
The Allens were survived by two daughters. Gale Allen Henry (born December 1947) of Kansas City, Missouri, was previously married to Robert Paul "Bob" Devenney (1948-2002), the father of two of the Allens' four grandchildren, Brent Christopher Devenney (born 1970), a Southern Baptist pastor in South Burlington, Vermont, and Chad Joseph Devenney (born 1975) of Kansas City. Bob Devenney is interred beside his parents at Resthaven Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum in Baton Rouge. Gale subsequently married Charles Bender Henry, Sr. (1939-2013), a deputy with the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Department in Monroe who died at the age of seventy-three after a long battle with cancer.
The younger daughter, Deborah Ray Allen Poirrier (born April 1952) of Baton Rouge, is the widow of businessman James Alton "Jim" Poirrier (1937-2001). Known as Debbie Poirrier, she was previously married to Michael W. "Mike" Wiley (1948-2003), an Alexandria native who was the chief juvenile detective and the 2001 "Deputy of the Year" for the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Department. A board member of the Renaissance Home for Youth and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Alexandria, Wiley died at the age of fifty-five of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was the father of the other two Allen grandchildren, Mason Allen Wiley (born 1972) of DeRidder in Beauregard Parish, and Melissa Ashley Wiley Despino (born 1973) of Alexandria. At the time of the Allens' deaths, Melissa was married to Tommy Ray Bergeron. The Allens had seven great-grandchildren.
Services were held on April 10, 2010, at the Hixson Brothers Funeral Home Chapel in Alexandria. The Allens are interred at Alexandria Memorial Gardens.
- Confirmed by the Rapides Parish Registrar of Voter's office
- Statement of Ray R. Allen, July 2006
- "Ray R. "Nandad" Allen". The Advocate. April 9, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- "Ray Allen, former city of Alexandria finance director, dies at age of 89". Alexandria Daily Town Talk, April 7, 2010.
- "Velda LaBorde Lee, CPA". The Town Talk, March 6, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
- Velda Lee and her husband, James Mack Lee (1930-1991), had two children, Michael Arnie Lee and Kathy Lee Beebe Baugh.
- "Lily Hinds Allen". Findagrave.com. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
- "Robert Paul Devenney (Allen's former son-in-law)". Findagrave.com. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
- Charles Bender Henry, Sr., Monroe News Star, January 24, 2013.
- "Charles Bender Henry, Sr. (Allen's son-in-law)". Findagrave.com. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
- "James A. Poirrier (Allen's son-in-law)". Findagrave.com. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
- "Michael W. Wiley (Allen's former son-in-law)". Findagrave.com. Retrieved June 2, 2017.