A Tribute to Allen Smith
One of the founders of Pilgrim Institute
By Ruth J. Smith
On November 20, 1937, a boy was born on the western slope of Colorado. This boy would grow to have an influence on many before the Lord saw fit to take him home on April 9, 1995. Today marks the 80th anniversary of his birth, and it seemed fitting to remember this man and the contribution he made during his life.
His life wasn’t easy physically, although he was never known to complain. At the young age of approximately seven, he spent six months in the hospital with rheumatic fever. This was before the days of penicillin and even with the good medical treatment of the day, he was left with a very damaged heart, which was not improved by another episode of rheumatic fever in about seventh grade. The physical limitations kept him from participating in any sports, but didn’t hinder his love of riding his bicycle. As a young man, he and his best friend trained on their bikes until they could ride from their homes in western Denver to the Red Rocks Amphitheater at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, a round trip ride of about 30 miles. He continued to ride bikes throughout his life.
Allen loved the mountains, whether camping in a tent or camper, hiking the trails, enjoying a drive to see the changing colors, riding tubes down the hills in the winter, or riding across the mountain tops on a snowmobile.
As time passed, we met at the church in Denver where we were later married. There was college where Allen studied Broadcast Engineering. The Lord also blessed our home with three beautiful daughters.
Never interested in being in the spotlight, Allen served faithfully at church in the sound booth. At several times, he had the privilege of serving as Deacon in the church where we were members. Once we were involved in the Pilgrim Institute ministry, he was involved in the recording of sessions, always particular that we would have the best recording possible. At one point in his career, the Lord Providentially had him learn the art of printing. It truly was an art to Allen. His exactness was always demonstrated in the projects he produced. He took old equipment and was able to produce outstanding material first at the church and then for Pilgrim Institute.
Early in the 1970’s, Allen and I attended a class taught at our church, which introduced us to the ideas of America’s Christian history and government. We had no idea how the decision to attend this class would have such an impact on our life. It changed us personally, as we realized the need for personal self government and the importance of Biblical principles in governing our home. In 1979, with two other couples, we were part of the founding of the Pilgrim Institute ministry.
At first, Allen was a supporting factor to the ministry, but eventually he worked full time in the ministry. He not only produced all of the printed material, but took responsibility for the daily office duties, overseeing facility maintenance, and traveled frequently to conferences helping with all of the details involved, driving many miles around the country.
A man of great patience, he always wanted to have things done correctly. Whether it was keeping the knives sharpened in the kitchen, tuning the radio exactly to the station, or printing materials exactly to the quality he knew could be done, he wouldn’t give up until he could accomplish that goal. He wouldn’t accept less than that quality.
Individuals who took the time to visit with Allen realized the great intelligence which he had. Never one to read much fiction, we might find him reading the dictionary or an encyclopedia. And, frustrating in all word games, he never forgot what he read. His daughters quickly learned he was the one to ask when they had questions about their science lessons, not their mother. However, they also had to be prepared that the explanation may take a little while.
Allen loved his family. He only lived long enough to enjoy the blessing of the first of his eight grandchildren before the Lord took him home. But he took advantage of every minute he had with Cari.
The day eventually came when Allen had to undergo open heart surgery to replace his damaged heart valve. But that didn’t stop his continued work. Only a few years later he was diagnosed with cancer. After surgery, the doctors informed us that they were unable to remove all of the cancer. Every means that were available at that time were taken, but, in the end, his body couldn’t fight any longer. However, we all knew that our lives are in the Hand of God. He is the one that gives life and He is the one that determines when we are to go home to be with Him.
Allen’s quiet, determined character was an inspiration to all those who knew him. At the time of Allen’s homegoing, many friends called and the comment which came again and again was that he was a man of dignity. Webster tells us that dignity is nobleness or elevation of mind, consisting in a high sense of propriety, truth and justice, with an abhorrence of mean and sinful actions. These words describe him well.
As I was preparing this tribute, I asked our daughters to give me some words that they would use to describe their father’s character and these are the words which they sent and which I wholeheartedly agree: “Quiet but strong, industrious, gracious, very hard working, thoughtful and caring, sacrificially giving, loving with a good sense of humor, quiet strength that perseveres through struggle and hardship, love for family, curiosity to learn new information, a wealth of knowledge (if the other person inquired about the subject), thorough attention to the tiniest details.” It seems these are a testimony of a great father.
At the memorial service, the Pastor who had spent time with Allen during those final days made this statement: “He looked death in the eye and did not waver.”
As husband, father, grandfather, and best friend, Allen has been missed. But we pray that his memory will live on and the ministry for which he labored so faithfully continues to remain true to its purpose until we see the restoration of this great land or the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
If you knew Allen, we would invite your comment below, including your memory of his character or his life which you would enjoy sharing with us.