“A Heart as Wide as the World” is the name of a book by Buddhist author and teacher, Sharon Salzberg. If there were a phrase which Allen embodied, this is the one. Allen was a man of incredible heart, showing kindness, generosity, and compassion to all those he encountered, especially so in the final chapter of his life. His way of moving through the world was informed by his Buddhist spiritual practice, a practice of mindfulness and care for all living beings.
Allen was an intellectual, but absent the pretensions that often accompany that designation. Having natural curiosity about a wide range of subjects, he continued to embark on whole new content areas later in life. Just as one example, a lifelong love of music, nurtured early on by George Szell’s world-class Cleveland Orchestra, led him in his mid-70’s to a desire to learn all that he could about the music of African-American female composers. At the same time, he was known to vary his musical fare by occasionally rocking out to AC/DC!
He read widely, especially in the realm of spirituality, and had a deep and probing fascination with the big questions of life. For more than two decades, he was an active member of the Deep Spring Center for Spiritual Inquiry, and “lived the practice” of Buddhism, the ultimate goal of most practitioners. Deep Spring was in a larger sense Allen’s family, and he was much loved by his many spiritual friends within the group, as well as by the three guiding teachers. But the love of Allen’s life was his wife Linda Pendleton, whom he met in 1985 and married in 1987.
Not only was Allen a man of many interests, he was also typically talented in anything he undertook. Professionally, he was a remarkably gifted therapist who combined an innate keen perceptiveness with an abundance of compassion for all he served. Most notable among his talents outside of the office was his talent for gourmet cooking—so much so that an old friend of his, upon learning of his death, was given to exclaim, “He sure could cook!” His wife Linda, a reasonably good cook herself when they met, quickly deferred to him after the first time she cooked for him, making spanakopita. With genuine curiosity, Allen asked her if she made her own filo dough, whereupon Linda took off her apron for the next 37 years. The only complaint she had after decades of being the prime beneficiary of Allen’s culinary talents was that he never used a recipe and therefore could never exactly recreate a dish she had particularly enjoyed.
Allen’s adult life took him far afield of his Ohio beginnings. Early travel adventures took Allen and Linda to an idyllic North Carolina beach called Emerald Isle. While still living in Cleveland, Allen, who had the capacity to envision what might have seemed impossible, conceived to build a home in Emerald Isle that would pay for itself with summer rentals, leaving it free for Linda and him to enjoy in the off-season. The son of an architect, Allen possessed artistic and design capabilities; so he proceeded to design and contract to build an oceanfront home, Sea Garland, to fulfill his vision. This proved to be a turning point in his life with Linda, as they fell in love with North Carolina and, on one of their North Carolina trips to oversee the construction of Sea Garland, they conceived a five-year plan to make NC their full-time home. This move seemed almost “meant to be”; within a mere year of the completion of Sea Garland, they had located a near-ideal private practice partnership in the city of Fayetteville, near Emerald Isle, and were soon thereafter enjoying their new home there. The couple rejoiced at their newfound proximity to their dream home by the sea, and delighted in blissful interludes at Sea Garland.
Once settled in North Carolina, Allen developed a passion for fly fishing, as well as for tying his own flies, carefully keying them to the typical hatches for his intended destination and season. He also taught himself saltwater flyfishing, though trout fishing wilderness rivers remained his strong preference. It was a sad day when Allen finally conceded, late in his battle with cancer, that he would never fly fish again. But true to his incredible generosity, he boxed up his impressive array of fishing equipment and shipped it off to his much-loved nephew Matthew, a resident of Montana, quintessential fly fishing country that Allen also loved.
Joining a longtime interest in travel with his passion for fly fishing, a midlife fishing trip he took to Montana and Wyoming was the ultimate trip for Allen. But he and Linda also enjoyed a number of trips they took to France and Italy, where Allen reveled in sampling fine European cuisine. In this vein, a peak experience for him occurred while staying at a Tuscan villa; he was able to take a cooking tutorial with a master Italian chef featured in Bon Appetit magazine.
Allen also had a wonderful sense of humor, playful and sometimes even a bit mischievous. This side of him was particularly prominent during the numerous holidays spent at Allen and Linda’s Emerald Isle beach house with friends. On one occasion, aided by the strong margaritas a friend was known for making, Allen got up on the kitchen counter bar, donning strands of Linda’s beads, and did his version of a tropical dance number!
But more than anything, Allen enjoyed just spending time talking about anything and everything with his wife Linda. In addition to the ordinary chats of daily life, Allen and Linda went deep in their conversations, and did so even as it was evident that his death was drawing near. This only served to fortify the strength of their loving bond. Linda shared Allen’s Buddhist orientation to spirituality, and they found comfort and inspiration in meditating together daily.
In 2021, recognizing the need for closer access to Allen’s cancer care at the University of North Carolina, the couple moved to the Twin Lakes community within Burlington, NC. There they found a lovely home with a “wall of windows” on the world, where Allen spent many happy hours watching the world go by from his sunlit home. He also developed uniquely rewarding friendships with two other men in his new community, Dennis Pagano and Peter Murray. Despite crippling pain and compromised mobility, Allen maintained a courageous refusal to give in to disease or disability. Surrounded by the natural beauty of their new community, Allen experienced the happiest chapter of his life.
.Allen was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and was raised in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, where he attended public schools. He received his B.A. from John Carroll University in Cleveland, and his M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. He then went on to achieve a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from University of Akron. He initially worked in community mental health centers, but then went on to become a full-time faculty member of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. While there, he was Assistant Professor and Director of the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program. Upon relocating to North Carolina in 1994, he became a partner in Carolina Psychological Associates in Fayetteville, attaining the position of Managing Partner, until declining health forced his retirement in 2016.
Allen died on January 24, 2023, of complications related to his bone marrow cancer, myelodysplastic syndrome. His beloved wife Linda was by his side until the end of his life. His death was very peaceful, accompanied by an expression of complete serenity, marking, at last, the end of his suffering.
He is survived by his wife Linda Pendleton of Burlington, his nephew Matthew Seeg of Big Sky, Montana, and his niece Elisabeth Agyekum of Baltimore. He is also survived by a sister, Karen Schmauder, of Cleveland, along with nephews Michael Schmauder and Nicholas Schmauder, and niece Kristin Schmauder. He was predeceased by his father Richard Mumper and his mother Lillian M. Mumper. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Twin Lakes Auxiliary at 3701 Wade Coble Drive, Burlington, NC 27215 or Deep Spring Center at 6655 Jackson Rd., Unit 565, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.