Retired Port Agent Jack Allen Dies at 80


March 2013


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Retired SIU Port Agent Jack Allen, who sailed with and worked for the union from 1948 until his retirement in 1991, passed away last year in St. Clair, Mich., following a long illness. He was 80.


The St. Clair native started sailing as a teenager in 1948; he spent the next 23 years in the deck department of Lakes vessels including ones operated by Tomlinson Fleet Corp. and Great Lakes Towing.


Allen came ashore to work for the SIU in 1971. He held various positions with the union including port agent, safety director and representative. He worked out of the Michigan halls of Detroit, Duluth and Algonac.


Until his health began failing, he stayed in contact with the union after retirement, and would stop at the Algonac hall from time to time.


SIU Vice President Great Lakes Tom Orzechowski said, “Jack was a dedicated SIU man and he kept in touch with the union for many years even after he retired. I know he was a strong believer in the U.S. Merchant Marine and in particular he was committed to our membership.”


Daniel Duncan, executive secretary- treasurer of the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, worked in the union’s communications office when he met Allen.


“Jack took me on my first Great Lakes fit-out,” Duncan recalled. “His contact with the members proved invaluable and his knowledge helped me understand Great Lakes shipping. Jack knew the membership and was very dedicated to their causes.”


SIU Algonac Safety Director Don Thornton said he didn’t work with Allen but enjoyed getting to know him during his visits to the hall.


“He was sharp as a tack right to the end – just a ball of energy, always doing something, going somewhere,” Thornton remembered. “He didn’t let any grass grow under his feet, that’s for sure. He was very involved in his community, too. I’m glad I had opportunities to meet him.”


Allen was a lifetime member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Survivors include his wife of 34 years, Gail Allen; three children; five grandchildren; a brother; and many nieces and nephews.


An online remembrance said Allen “gave generously to his many friends, local charities and his community. His generous spirit will be greatly missed.”


That same obituary noted that after Allen retired from the union, he worked locally from 1995 to 2010 for a company called Auto Anodics, which specializes in finishing aluminum and stainless steel.



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