LOIS GLADYS ALLMEN
With great sadness, but also with great respect and admiration for her many accomplishments, I pass along news that Lois Allmen, 2004 CFMS President, passed away peacefully in her home on Sunday, March 28, surrounded by her loving family. Lois was born in Douglas, Arizona, on May 4, 1916, moving to California in 1926 when her father was transferred by the Southern Pacific Railroad. (Lois, who became a physical education teacher, apparently learned to swim in the water tanks used to fill Southern Pacific trains as they stopped on their journeys across America.)
Lois discovered lapidary work relatively late in her long life while viewing displays during the 1970s in the gem and mineral building with her husband at the local county fair, then embraced it with a passion and remained active in our gem and mineral community to the very end. Just a few short weeks ago, we were helping her put an exhibit of her wonderful silver jewelry work into the Ventura club show, and despite failing eyesight and hearing, she continued attending and participating in the Oxnard Gem & Mineral Society membership and board meetings and was still teaching silversmithing classes for the Oxnard club and community just last year, well into her 90s, a class she had been teaching for the past 20 years. She loved working with silver and won many awards at gem and mineral shows, as well as Best of Show at the Ventura County Fair, where she frequently served as a volunteer and judge.
But lapidary work was not her only love. A teacher by profession, she taught both physical education and Spanish for over 20 years after earning degrees at Ventura College, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and California Lutheran University. She passed the love of teaching down the generations—one of her sons became a teacher, and one of her grandsons was my son’s math teacher and must have done a good job since my son is now engineering major. She and her husband of 65 years, William Henry Allmen, Sr., also loved travel, journeying throughout Mexico, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, China, and Europe. I recently saw a photo of Lois, well into her 80s, atop an elephant in Thailand with Henry. And she loved music; whether playing the guitar or piano, she could often be heard singing in her home. A long-time member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, she eventually served as choir director, and her soprano voice graced many a wedding and other events.
Finally, family was her greatest love. Nancy and I enjoyed a fond journey a couple of years ago, driving Lois to a CFMS Directors’ Meeting while listening to stories of her family’s colorful history and cast of characters, a cast that included survivors of the great hurricane and flood that swept away Galveston a century ago, Civil War actors on both sides of the divide, and even a pirate! Lois related it all with that characteristic smile and twinkle in her eye. That love of family extended from the past to the future, and Lois is survived by 6 children, 13 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren, who related loving memories during her celebration-of-life service. While CFMS members may remember Lois as always composed and the ultimate in grace, at her memorial service, I heard of the “evil eye” she could cast that would stop any misbehaving in its tracks. We also heard of the story of when Henry came a-courting at the unusually late hour of 8:00 PM one evening, asking if Lois was home. “Yes,” she said as she came to the door. “And that’s where you should be!” (She did, it turns out, let him in.)
Lois’s family ask that any donations in her memory be made to either the St. John’s Lutheran Church Memorial Fund (1500 North “C” Street, Oxnard, CA 93030) and/or the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies Endowment Fund. I’ll always treasure the memory of that characteristic smile and twinkle in the eye that Lois perpetually maintained. Here’s to the memory of a truly good soul!-Jim