Margie Allen AKA "Ma Allen"
by David R. Kenney
Despite Erl Morrell-Stinson dumping a 55-gallon barrel full of water underneath my door at Farrow Hall for un-documentable reasons, I was allowed to move into Brigance Hall in the Fall of 1988. Brigance Hall was the type of dormitory that you did not have to go through the lobby to reach the outside at night. It was for senior level students who had demonstrated a level of maturity for such a responsibility. So, I do not know how I managed to obtain permission to move into this dormitory for my Sophomore, Junior and Senior years. Maybe it was because I also began working with the Dean of Students, Cliff Bennett. While it was hard to leave Carolyn Corley, whom I very much respected and admire to this day, I was again blessed to meet one of the dearest ladies whom I would have as a friend for the next three years, Margie Allen. Since I qualified for Work Study, I actually worked to clean at Farrow Hall, but I was reassigned to work at Brigance Hall so I had a lot of interaction with "Ma Allen" as she was the Residence Hall Director or "Dorm Mom" for Brigance Hall.
Ma Allen was a widow, and she would leave her door open as she watched television. Sometimes I would wander by her door to say hello. She was always very friendly, cordial and encouraging. She loaned Annette & me her cookware to make a spaghetti dinner, and we brought her some semi-burnt garlic bread back which she loved. We had many good laughs together, and I would tease her once in a while. Annette recalls her shaking her umbrella at me as we would cross one another on campus. Of course, she always had a big smile on her face. She wrote the following for my yearbook: "Dear David, What can I express? or how can I express what knowing you has meant to me. You bring much pleasure to my daily work. You are always so kind and considerate. Maybe "impish" but never rude or uncaring. You have added so much joy to my daily living and work here at Brigance Dorm. I am so glad I had this opportunity to get to know you and your girlfriend. She seems special too. I wish for you a wonderful life but most of all "life eternal" in the place God has prepared for all of us that love Him and live for Him. I will miss all you "rascals" but my memories will be very special when days get long and I do not have you to laugh with at times. Do take care and be faithful. In Christian love, Ma Allen, October 17, 1989."
There are many wonderful details about her life that she shared with me. She loved living in Brigance Hall and it is sad and sweet that she passed away on April 10th while the construction crew began tearing down Brigance Hall on April 9th. In my memory, the two will always go together. This was driven home to my memory when my wife (who was my girlfriend in 1989) and our two children lived in Brigance Hall for the week of the Freed-Hardeman Lectureship in 2008. It was not the same to stay in the dorm and not have her there to speak with in the lobby.This very touching obituary was published by the family and it sums her life up fairly well:
Margie Elaine Wimberley Allen, 91, formerly of Paris, TN, departed this life April 10, 2014, surrounded by her family. Margie was known to family and friends as “Ding Dong Granny”, a nickname given to her by a granddaughter, Brandi (Brewer) Feichtinger, who associated the tolling of the Tower’s Bell at Freed Hardeman University, where Margie served for many years as a dorm mother, with her Granny.
Margie was born in Henry County on March 15, 1923, to Bomar and Bertha (Powell) Wimberley. She was married to Stanley David Allen, Sr., September 11, 1937, and they had four children David, Jr. (Connie), Mike (Carolyn), Sharon Walker (Don), and Jan Brewer (Rick). Margie is survived by 15 grandchildren, 42 great grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren. She had 3 brothers, Raymond Wimberley and David Vickery, who preceded her in death and Danny Wimberley (Mary Beth) who lives in Buchanan, TN.
Margie attended schools in Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee and Florida. When she married in 1937, at the age of 14, she gave up school to become a housewife. While a dorm mother at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, TN, she completed the GED Test and received a Certificate of High School Equivalency, of which she was very proud. Beginning a life of responsibility at such a young age, she surely earned a PhD in Life. Especially with her children, she was a teacher of the rarest kind, sharing her learning through love.
In addition to being a wife and mother, Margie worked a number of jobs outside the home to help support her family. As an employee at Holley Carburetor and The Mitchum Company in Paris, TN, she took great pride in her work and made friends for a lifetime. When Stanley’s health required a job change in 1959, the two of them operated Allens’ Grocery on HWY 69. They moved to Huntsville, AL, in 1968, to begin a family venture in the fast food business with Henry’s Drive In Restaurants, Inc.
Following Stanley’s death in 1972, Margie moved to Henderson, TN to serve as a dorm mother at Freed Hardeman University. Her tenure there lasted for over 14 years, and she was endeared as “Mom Allen” to thousands of students during their college years away from home. She later returned to Huntsville, AL and worked for Delcor Corporation, securing assistance for the elderly, and in 1983, she was named Resident Manager of MayFair Towers, an independent residential facility owned and operated by MayFair church of Christ. After serving in this position for several years, she continued to make her home among her friends at Mayfair Towers until her health declined in 2010. Since that time, she has been lovingly cared for by family members and skilled caregivers.
Margie loved everyone, and her priorities were family and friends, the Lord Jesus Christ, and her country. She lived life with energy and passion, and she will be missed by those who loved her and were loved by her.
Visitation for Margie will be Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 4:00-8:00 p.m. and after 12 pm on Sunday at Ridgeway Funeral Home, and the funeral service is scheduled for 2:00 p.m., Sunday, April 13, in LeDon Chapel of Ridgeway Funeral Home with members of her family and Charlie Cate conducting the service. Margie’s seven grandsons will serve as pall bearers, and burial will follow at Poplar Grove Cemetery in Springville, TN