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Robert C. Allen (1957-2018)

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Robert C. Allen, of Springfield Township, a longtime truck driver who excelled at music and played in several Toledo-area polka bands, died Feb. 14.

Mr. Allen, 61, died after a work accident while delivering a load at the Menards store on Airport Highway in Holland, his daughter Louise Miller said. 

Family members described Mr. Allen as a “jack-of-all-trades” who could fix anything — or learn how to — and an accomplished performer whose love of music ran deep.

Born Jan. 5, 1957, to Alden and Lee Allen in Toledo, he attended Central Catholic High School. It was there he first discovered a passion for music, starting with clarinet lessons in his sophomore year. He later learned flute and saxophone, and served as drum major for the marching band.

He married his high school sweetheart, the former Jean Schetter, on Dec. 1, 1979. The pair met at Central Catholic, where they shared algebra and music classes, she said. She said her husband’s love of music was innate.

“I think every musician has it in their blood once they get a taste of it,” Mrs. Allen said. “Especially if you can get to the point where you can play along with a group and hear the whole story [of the music].”

He played saxophone with local acts such as the Music Factory, the University of Toledo Jazz Lab Band and the 555th Air Force Band. He also performed with The Extreme and Madison Avenue Band. 

The groups typically played area festivals and yacht clubs, his wife said. 

Shortly after high school graduation in 1975, he enlisted in the Army, and for a time attended Jacksonville State University in Alabama. He returned to northwest Ohio and studied at the University of Toledo and at Owens Community College, where he studied agricultural business and obtained a degree.

For years he owned and operated a semi-trailer and drove building materials across Ohio. Mrs. Miller said her father could always figure out how to solve problems around the house.

“We never had an electrician growing up, or a plumber, or a carpenter,” she said. “My dad did all those. If there was a need, he taught himself.” That included building the family’s kitchen cabinets, she said.

She also recalled his proficiency in the kitchen, especially when preparing steaks. 

“You could not get a better steak anywhere,” she said. “You could go to a nice restaurant and you would be disappointed because it wasn’t his.”

Surviving are his wife, Jean Schetter Allen; daughters Louise Miller and Amy Tibbits; brothers Christopher and Kevin Allen; sisters Mary Ruth Garrett and Lee Ann Meiring, and one grandson. 

Visitation is 11 a.m. Wednesday with a funeral service at 1 p.m. at Wisniewski Funeral Home, 2426 N. Reynolds Road.

The family suggests tributes to Truckers’ Final Mile, a nonprofit that helps families reunite with drivers on the road in times of crisis.

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at llindstrom@theblade.com, 419-724-6154, or on Twitter @lelindstrom.

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