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A life dedicated to service: Ron Allen remembered as good listener, caring friend

Goodhue County Commissioner Ron Allen is pictured in the county board room in 2014 after being appointed chair. Allen, who served on County Board for 14 years, died April 19, 2019, at age 63. File photo by Michael Brun

Whether they knew him from his time as a school psychologist, serving on County Board or supporting his fellow military veterans, colleagues of Ron Allen described the Red Wing resident as a good listener. On Friday it was their turn to speak on his behalf.

Allen died April 19, 2019, from leukemia. The husband, father of three and grandfather was 63.

Dan Rechtzigel said he met Allen on the campaign trail in 2004 when both men were running for Goodhue County Board. They would go on to serve together for more than a decade.

PREVIOUSLY: County hosts blood drive in honor of Commissioner Allen 

"I immediately liked him," Rechtzigel said of Allen. "I liked his passion, I liked his energy and I knew that he cared."

Though they had policy disagreements over the years, Rechtzigel said Allen was always respectful and attentive to the needs of county residents. He also said Allen recognized the importance of having a long-range vision for the county, such as safety and infrastructure projects.

OBITUARY: Ronald C. Allen

"I had Highway 52 running through most of my district, and he was probably the furthest away from it, and yet he cared and knew it was big-picture," Rechtzigel said. "He knew it was going to be good for the county in the future."

More recently, the social studies teacher said he worked with Allen at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School, where Allen took a job as the school psychologist after retiring from the same position in Red Wing.

"Everybody loved him at school as well," Rechtzigel said, adding he remembered Allen walking the halls with a big smile.

Red Wing Public Schools Superintendent Karsten Anderson said in a statement Friday that he will miss Allen as a community leader and friend. "His positive attitude, affable personality and love for our community will always be appreciated," Anderson said.

Allen's public service was accompanied by 31 years of military service, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired from the army at the rank of colonel.

Retired Goodhue County Veterans Service Officer Bob Davis said Allen would frequent his office to swap stories.

"Ron was easy to talk to, easy to work with," Davis said. "He would listen to me."

Allen also served as commander of the Leo C. Peterson American Legion Post 54 in Red Wing, where he made a reputation around the annual River City Days celebration for his appetite for hot dogs.

"Every year when he was commander, he would eat more hot dogs than we sold to anyone over the weekend," club manager Renae Quade said. The legion had planned to host a hot dog feed next month in Allen's honor.

County Administrator Scott Arneson in an email Friday praised Allen's 14 years of service on County Board as well as other boards and committees in the county. He said Allen will be remembered for his dedication to transportation issues and planning for parks and trails.

"Needless to say, we will all miss Commissioner Allen more than words can express," Arneson said. "He was not just our co-worker, but our good friend."

Allen represented District 1 on County Board, which covers parts of Red Wing and Welch Township. He stepped away from the position in 2018 to undergo cancer treatment, replaced by interim Commissioner Scott Safe. Allen's term was set to expire in January 2021.

Commissioners will meet 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 23, to discuss options to fill Allen's seat on the board until a special election can be held.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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