Allen Made Arrangements For Funeral And Successor

February 12, 1991|By John A. Morris and Elise Armacost | John A. Morris and Elise Armacost,Staff writers

Aris T. Allen made plans for everything before he killed himself Friday.

He said goodbye to his family, made his own funeral arrangements and recommended someone to continue his work in the House of Delegates.

"He always tried to maintain a certain amount of control over hislife, and I guess also over his death," his elder son, Aris T. Allen Jr., said yesterday. "His feeling may have been that he wanted to maintain a healthy, active and meaningful life where he could make somecontribution. He may have felt that this was just no longer possible."

Allen, 80, learned Wednesday that he was suffering from terminal prostate cancer. Friends and acquaintances who saw Allen at the State House Thursday said he seemed "his jovial, good-natured self."

Early Friday afternoon, he picked up messages at the Annapolis office of O'Conor, Piper and Flynn, where he worked part-time as a real estate agent. He also made arrangements to meet the next day with Dallas Evans, his campaign treasurer and the man he would recommend as his successor to the District 30 House of Delegates seat.

Later Friday, he drove in a car he had just rented to the Holy Temple Church of God International on Bestgate Road, where he asked for the pastor. The pastor wasn't there.

Allen went back to the rented car and, police said, shot himself in the head with a shotgun. Police found him about 4:50 p.m.

Ever since, those who knew Allen have been strugglingto understand why a physician who was so optimistic, peace-loving and encouraging to others would have ended his life so violently.

"I've spent all weekend trying to figure it out," said County Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, who knew Allen for 20 years. "His lifealways was one of consideration. This was so completely opposite allhe stood for -- non-violence, the consideration of other people."

However, others who were close to Allen say his death may simply have reflected his determination to control his destiny, right to the end.

Police said they found at least two suicide notes in Allen's rented car. While police would not release the notes, they said they contained funeral instructions and farewell messages to his family.

Allen also mailed instructions concerning his successor, including copies of Evans' resume, to several members of the Anne Arundel Republican Central Committee and former U.S. Representative Marjorie Holt. The letters, photocopies of a handwritten note on Allen's legislative stationery, arrived in the mail Saturday.

"I request that you use your full influence in all appropriate areas in order to have Dallas Evans appointed as delegate to fill out my unexpired term as delegate in District 30," said the notes. At least one of the notes was signed, "Aris T. Allen, M.D."

"That was consistent with how he would handle things," Aris Allen Jr. said. "Sending out the recommendations was his way of trying to ensure there wouldn't be a gap in the political process."

"He was very efficient, that's what it boils down to,"said Sheila Finlayson, Allen's campaign manager. "He took care of everything. Even in his absence, he took care to make sure things got done."

Early last week, Allen had asked his legislative staff to make 20 copies of Dallas Evans' resume and drafted numerous hand-written notes, Finlayson said. His staff did not know why he wanted the resumes, but the request did not seem unusual, she said. Allen recently resigned from the board of regents at Morgan State University and hadsuccessfully lobbied for Evans to replace him there.

The GOP central committee, which will appoint Allen's replacement, will not consider filling his seat until after funeral services Wednesday, said Laura Green Treffer, chairman of the committee. "Right now, the committee is in mourning for Delegate Allen," she said.

This is the third time the GOP central committee has had to appoint a General Assembly replacement. Coincidentally, both prior appointments involved Allen, who was selected to fill a vacant Senate seat in 1978, then left in 1981, before the end of his term.

How much weight Allen's recommendations will carry is uncertain. Holt, the dean of the local GOP, has said party members should consider Allen's wishes. One central committee member objected to Allen's attempt to "reach from beyond the grave to influence a decision like this."

"My first feeling was one ofshock," said the committee member, who asked not to be identified. "Then my mood changed to disappointment and anger that he would attempt to use this method to influence us. This is a decision to be made by those in the living world. If this was this important to Aris, he could have met with the chairman or all 13 of us.

"Frankly, I thinkthis note will have little bearing on what happens."

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