Allen Obituary 2023


ALLEN, Joseph Joseph Land Allen, age 94, died on May 3, 2023 in Dallas. He was born on November 17, 1928 in Burlington, North Carolina, the son of Louis C. and Bess Allen of Graham, North Carolina. He grew up in Graham and Burlington, where Joe attended Burlington High School, graduating as valedictorian in 1947. During his high school years, he attended the Methodist Youth Assemblies held each summer by the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Church, experiences that led him to choose the ministry as his vocation. He entered Duke University in 1947 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History in 1950. It was at a Methodist youth retreat in 1948 that he met his future wife, Mary David Ritter of South Carolina. The couple were married in 1953, beginning a loving partnership that lasted 63 years. After receiving his divinity degree from Yale University in 1953, Joe studied theology at Yale as a doctoral student of H. Richard Niebuhr in the field of Christian Ethics. He completed his doctorate in 1957 and accepted a position on the faculty of the Perkins School of Theology of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a position he held for over forty years until his retirement as Professor Emeritus of Ethics in 1998. At Perkins, Joe dedicated himself enthusiastically to classroom learning and scholarship, and delighted in the ability and collegiality of his colleagues and students. In 1983 he published his first book, Love and Conflict, emphasizing the centrality of the idea of covenant to an understanding of Christian ethics. War: A Primer for Christians followed in 1991 and Perkins School of Theology: A Centennial History appeared in 2011, reflecting his love for the seminary where he spent his career. He was an active member of the Society of Christian Ethics for over thirty years, serving as its executive secretary from 1980 to 1984 and as its president in 1992-93. In retirement he and Mary David continued to travel and took great joy in family reunions, and they remained members of Greenland Hills United Methodist Church in Dallas. As Mary David’s health diminished, he devoted himself to her care, serving as her loving companion until her passing in 2017. Joe is survived by his two children, Bob and wife Lina of Idabel, Oklahoma and Joyce Jablinski and wife Barbara Begeman of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas; and by granddaughter Isa Allen. He is also survived by many loving nephews and nieces and by his sister-in-law, Aleth Prétot Ritter. He was pre-deceased by his wife, Mary David, his parents, his brother Louis, his brothers-in-law Bill, Jim, and Leo and his sisters-in-law Angie, Daisy, and Sonja. A memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm, Tuesday, May 23, 2023, at Greenland Hills United Methodist Church, 5835 Penrose St., Dallas 75206, the Rev. Andrew Fiser presiding, followed by a reception at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Greenland Hills United Methodist Church or to Perkins School of Theology, SMU, Dallas 75275.

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Published by Dallas Morning News on May 14, 2023.
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