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BENNETT: Moving on but never forgotten

Influential people are often remembered for a myriad of reasons.

Someone doesn’t have to be a sports figure to be a leader of people.

I know when I was younger I had a lot of great teachers who probably never got enough credit for shaping the lives of so many students.

On Sunday, I received a text message asking me if I had heard Larry Allen had passed away from our associate sports editor Joe Albright.

It was tough news to hear despite the fact I wasn’t exactly a close friend of his.

However, through the years I had countless interactions with Larry and whenever granddaughter Emily was catching and playing softball for the Big Reds, one could find him and wife Judy taking in the game.

“Really hurting right now,” admitted PHS softball head coach Jason Roberts of everyone associated with the family. “Larry is the one that kept me coaching when I wanted to give up a few years ago. He would always come talk to me about how much our travel program meant to the kids and that giving Emily a place to play when she was 10 really helped her get started.

“Larry would have done anything for any kid at any time. When his health faded you could find him parked in the outfield just so he could watch Emily and her PHS team. I have never met a more upstanding, respectful and kind person than Larry when it came to helping any kid out and it didn’t matter who she played for. He will be greatly missed in our program and for all of PHS. He will not be forgotten.”

Allen was a 1960 graduate of Parkersburg High School and spent countless hours dedicating his life to area youth.

Along with being part of the PHS Stadium Committee, Allen was a former president of the Wood County Recreation Commission.

He was named the Volunteer of the Year by the West Virginia Athletic Directors once for his dedication and also was honored as the 2012 Girls Track Official of the Year.

“Larry was an invaluable asset to our community and Parkersburg High School,” noted Big Red athletic director Chris Way. “One of the greatest things about PHS athletics is all the volunteers and helpers when you need them, but Larry was the leader of those people and led by example for decades.

“There wasn’t a task that he hadn’t or wouldn’t do. When I first took the AD job he would call me or stop in regularly just to check and see if there was anything I needed help with. He was a true definition of what it means to be a Big Red and he was very proud of that. We’re truly going to miss him being around.”

Inducted into the PHS Football Hall of Fame back in 2018, Allen not only was the starting center for the Big Reds, but he also kicked.

PHS won the 1958 state gridiron title and finished runner-up in 1959. He also was an all-state catcher and co-captain of the Big Red 1960 state runner-up baseball squad.

“I’m the one who got him started there,” said Mike Hayden, who took over as assistant principal and athletic director in 1984 from Sam Mandich. “We both graduated in 1960 and we were teammates and classmates. We were on the football team together and the baseball team together. He was a very good friend of mine. He was one of the top-notch individuals you’d ever want to be around.

“I brought Larry in and he got involved and helped out and he took it and ran with it and stayed with it right until the end. He was really, really, well respected by everybody that came in there. He would bend over backwards to help anybody. The opponents would come in and he’d see if there was anything they needed. He was an ambassador for PHS and he loved that school. He would do anything for that school.”

Hayden also recalled his former teammate and their 1959 American Legion West Virginia state baseball title they won with Parkersburg Post 15.

“We played at the University of Maryland in the regional,” Hayden said of where the run came to an end.

The old saying at PHS goes “once a Big Red, always a Big Red” and Hayden made note of that.

“He was one of my very dear friends,” Hayden added. “He would epitomize that more so than anybody I know.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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