Mr. John “Jack” Jesse Allen, Jr. passed away on Saturday evening, July 2nd, 2016 in Pensacola, Florida at the age of 74. Jack was born on February 25, 1942 in Worcester, Massachusetts and was the son of the late John J. Allen, Sr. and Annie F. (Giles) Allen formerly of Port Charlotte, FL. He is survived by his wife Karen B. (Garrison) Allen; son Christopher J. Allen (wife Janet) of Jacksonville, FL and daughter Wendy D. Hess (husband Christopher) of Lakeland, FL; grandchildren: Rhiannon Cusolito, Lexie Hess, Henry and Katherine Allen.
Having enlisted in the Navy in 1962, Jack was chosen for the NAVCAD program; trained at NAS Pensacola, FL and later at NAS Kingsville, TX where he was commissioned and designated a naval aviator in 1964. Flying the F-8 “Crusader” with the “Legendary Red Lightnings” of VF-194 from 1964 to 1967, he completed over 200 combat missions in the Tonkin Gulf while cruising aboard U.S.S. Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) and the U.S.S. Ticonderoga (CV-14). Following his service to his country in Vietnam, Jack went to work for Northwest Airlines for 28 years and retired as a DC-10 Captain in 1996.
Jack and Karen were married in 1968 and had many incredible adventures together during their 48 years of marriage. With their combined love of history and creative talents they took on the tremendous challenge of restoring an old eighteenth-century home in Falmouth, MA which was subsequently accepted to the National Register of Historic Places. Upon Jack’s retirement, they worked with a boat builder in Maine to create the custom 37’ cruiser “Infinity & Beyond” on which they traveled for five and a half years, spending the winters in Key West and summers in Gulf Breeze. After they permanently settled in Gulf Breeze in 2010, Jack was diagnosed with Parkinson disease.
Jack was a true modern polymath and autodidact of exceptional talent. Starting from childhood with his “gigs” (go carts) and a hydroplane built from scratch, he was known as a tinker and inventor possessing the amazing intelligence and ability to do practically anything. Those who knew him always marveled at his successful endeavors and were astonished to learn that his knowledge, expertise and drafting capability came from his native intelligence and capacity to teach himself. His skill with tools and his commitment to craftsmanship have left behind an impressive legacy of projects including: copper replicas of Auburn’s gas lanterns, his own low-watt radio station WJKA and working scale replicas of the naval cannons used on the USS Constitution.
A memorial service with military honors at Barrancas National Cemetery for military veterans and a celebration of his life are planned for September. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to either of the following organizations:
The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation at www.navalaviationfoundation.org
National Parkinson Foundation at www.parkinson.org