Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Betty Allen

Betty Allen's life was full of giving and volunteering

ST. PETERSBURG — Betty Allen belonged to the St. Petersburg Country Club, but did not play tennis and was terrible at golf.

She worked five days a week into her 80s, earning no paychecks and taking few vacations.

She flourished around crisis, volunteering at a hospital, a police outpost and SPCA Tampa Bay.

She was born here and she died here.

She favored the Million Dollar Pier over The Pier, The Pier over The Lens and Pepin Restaurant over Hooters.

"She was very open and honest, to the point of being brutally honest," said Lee Allen, 56, her son. "She spoke her mind."

A volunteer for at least 60 years, Mrs. Allen probably had the biggest impact on the SPCA. A longtime board member, she helped connect the SPCA with the county's Domestic Violence Task Force and created a teaching position to reach children.

"She saw the link between animal abuse and human violence, and helped the SPCA staff become trained in that area," said Beth Lockwood, the SPCA's former executive director.

A bank president's daughter, Betty Bryan graduated from St. Petersburg High. She attended the University of Kentucky, did a turn as a debutante, and met and married insurance man Bob Allen.

The young mother worked as a candy striper at St. Anthony's Hospital. She persuaded area restaurants to accept "doggie banks" beside their cash registers, then enlisted her three children to roll hundreds of dollars in donated quarters for the SPCA.

For the last two decades, Mrs. Allen managed the Skyway Resource Center, a community relations office of the St. Petersburg Police Department. She worked there four days a week, reserving Wednesdays to do clerical work at St. Anthony's.

She relaxed with fast-paced mystery thrillers and traveling to Duke basketball games with her husband. They stayed at the same hotels, where she greeted the same bellhops and desk clerks by name.

She survived breast cancer and the loss of her husband in 2000, followed by a beloved black Labrador in 2001.

"She wouldn't get another dog," her son said, "because she was more concerned with the dog's fate if she died first than getting companionship."

In 2004, Mrs. Allen was named to the Senior Hall of Fame and given a key to the city.

She was making a phone call Jan. 3 at the resource center when she collapsed. Lee Allen got the call at the St. Petersburg Country Club, where he and his mother had a lunch date. Authorities at Bayfront Medical Center declared that she had died. Mrs. Allen was 83.

"She died doing what she loved best," her son said, "which was volunteering and serving the community. That's the way she wanted to go."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.


Betty Bryan Allen

Born: Sept. 15, 1929

Died: Jan. 3, 2013

Survivors: sons, Lee and Eddie Allen; daughter, Cathy Keith; and five grandchildren.

Betty Allen's life was full of giving and volunteering 01/10/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 10, 2013 10:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102