Cover photo for Dr. Frances Allen's Obituary
Dr. Frances Allen Profile Photo

Dr. Frances Allen

d. February 28, 2016

Dr. Frances Ann Allen passed away on February 28, 2016 at the age of 100. She was born on June 21, 1915 in Doniphan, Missouri to Charles F. and Hope (Harmon) Allen. She was valedictorian of her senior class at Doniphan High School. Following graduation from Southeast Missouri State Teachers College in 1937, she taught history and physical education at Normandy High School in St. Louis, Missouri before entering the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1939. After graduating in 1943, she served an internship at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City.


Upon completing the internship, she was employed as a general practitioner by Bethel Clinic in Newton, Kansas where her parents and younger brother were living. Dr. Allen began her practice at a time when many of Newton’s male doctors were in the armed services, thus filling a void in the community. After World War II, she and other Newton doctors were kept busy as they delivered members of the baby boom generation.


After practicing for nine years, she returned to KU Medical School in 1953 for a residency in Internal Medicine. This three-year program was well-suited to her intellectual curiosity. She gained experience in the sub-specialties of gastroenterology and nuclear medicine. Dr. Allen participated in research involving the radioactive isotope of red blood cell survival time in liver disease. This research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. She also received extensive training under Dr. E. Grey Dimond, a renowned cardiologist. For several months, she was responsible for reading all of the EKGs for the entire KU Medical Center. She proof-read Dr. Dimond’s book on the subject. He also sent her to various universities for additional training in cardiology, hematology, and pulmonary medicine.


Following her return to Newton, she was named chairman of the Medical Department of Bethel Deaconess Hospital. She conducted clinical trials for L-DOPA, a new medication for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease, earned recognition as a leader in research on the treatment of this disease, and authored a number of publications and papers on the subject. Because of her efforts, Newton became the second city in the United States to have defibrillators available for ambulance personnel.


Dr. Allen retired in 1978 at the age of 62 when her increasing deafness made it difficult for her to continue her practice. Later that summer, she traveled to Taiwan to train medical students. Upon her return to Newton, she soon found a new interest in painting and attended workshops to improve her skills. When members of the Newton Art Association had no place to meet, she was instrumental in obtaining a rent-free building that formerly had been a carriage factory. Thus was born the Carriage Factory Art Gallery. Dr. Allen was a dedicated fund-raiser for the organization. When enough funds were available, the association undertook a substantial renovation of the building in 1993.


She received numerous honors and awards throughout her life. They included receiving one of Newton’s Woman of the Year awards in 1959. In 1976, she received the Alumni Merit Award from Southeast Missouri State University. In 1983, she was among eleven Alumni Merit Award recipients who were recognized for their contributions to science at the dedication of the university’s new science building. Her many contributions to Newton’s medical and art communities were celebrated in 2010 with “A Night to Remember” sponsored by the Newton Art Association and Newton Medical Center. Appropriately, the event was held in the Carriage Factory Art Gallery.


She also held memberships in PEO, AG Chapter and Junior Themium.


Throughout her years in practice and far into retirement, Dr. Allen enjoyed traveling across the United States and around the world. She believed that travel broadened the mind and made a person a better world citizen. Her frequent travel companions included Tom and Norma Walker, Cecilia Perry, Gladys Brewer, and her cousins, Ruth Evans and Wanda Hungerford. She also enjoyed fishing, watching KU basketball, and was an avid reader.


Dr. Allen was preceded in death by her parents; her sister, Ruth Elizabeth Allen McNail; brothers, Charles Preston Allen and James Harmon Allen; and niece, Patricia Ann Allen.


Survivors include her nephews, James H. Allen, Jr. (Betty) of Auburn, Kansas and Richard F. Allen (Sharon) of Newton; nieces, Nancy Ruth Graber (John) of Newton, Sally June Allen (Tom) of Wichita, and Susan Allen Kline (Steve) of Fort Worth, Texas; ten great-nieces and nephews, and ten great-great-nieces and nephews.


A celebration of Dr. Allen’s life will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 12, 2016 at First Presbyterian Church in Newton with The Reverend Deborah Hollifield presiding. A gathering with family will follow the service in the church fellowship hall. A private interment will be held prior to the memorial service at Greenwood Cemetery in Newton.


In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that contributions be made to the Carriage Factory Art Gallery, the Smile Train, or an educational charity of choice. In care of Petersen Funeral Home.

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