HOWARD WHEATLEY ALLEN 1941-2019
Howard Wheatley Allen, of Mendocino, CA. passed away after a long illness in his home in Mendocino. Known to his friends and family as “Wheat”, he was a fifth generation Californian, born in San Francisco as first son to Ann Bullard Allen and Charles Howard Allen of Marin County. Wheat grew up in Marin: Ross, Kentfield and Stinson Beach where his family had a second home. Most of his boyhood was spent hunting and fishing with his dad and brother, Peter Bishop Allen and spending summers at Lake Tahoe and Bolinas.
Wheat attended Drake High School until his senior year where he was in the first graduating class at Redwood High School in Corte Madera. He then attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire (class of 1963). After college he joined the U S Navy as an officer on the USS Providence, and served in the Vietnam War, cruising up the Saigon River during the TET offensive. He was awarded a bronze star.
When he returned to the Bay Area, he was accepted to the School of Architecture at UC Berkeley. It was during this time that he was dating Rosemary Hexberg who was attending Calif. College of Fine Arts. They decided to get married, move to the country, and do their art. They were married in 1966 at Stinson Beach and moved to Westport, California on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
Wheat had not been new to art. He started carving small birds out of wood when he was 9. His father was an accomplished landscape painter, and both grandmothers were painters as well as his two sisters. He sold painted game birds to Abercrombie and Fitch sporting goods store in San Francisco during the 1970s and early ‘80s.
While living in Westport, their first daughter, Lisa Meredith was born in 1968. They moved to Little River after 2 years and spent another 2 years at the old Mallory House, finally buying their property of 12 acres 6 miles east of Mendocino. There they pursued their art and raising their 2 daughters. Daphne Joelle was born in 1974. About this time Governor Reagan bought a family of California quail to take to Japan as a gift to Emperor Hirohito.
After many exhibits in the bay area, Wheat started working with Mussi Art Works Foundry in Berkeley, turning out Bronze sculptures of birds. This is when his career really took off. His bronzes were chosen for State gifts from 2 presidents, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Recipients of his work include Mikhail Gorbachev given by the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, Jimmy Carter by Habitat from Humanity, and an eagle presented to Secretary of State, Caspar Weinberger, by his wife on their anniversary.
When their girls were older, Rosemary and Wheat moved to the Bay Area settling in Lafayette and later in San Francisco and Oakland, always keeping their beloved Mendocino property. His greatest joy was to sit at the piano and play his favorite tunes at parties with friends or making up songs to his grandchildren.
Wheat was an active councilor on the board of Save-the-Redwoods League 1971-2009, making a big difference in Mendocino County with the buying of the Masonite property along the banks of the Navarro River and giving it to the California Park system. He was also a very active member of the Bohemian Club where he made long lasting friendships. He gave a “Lakeside Talk” there in 2006. He was an avid environmentalist, instrumental in protesting the proposed Nuclear Power plant to be built in Point Arena, and was on the committee to trade the Mendocino Headlands for timberland in Jackson Park.
He is also a member of the Society of California Pioneers. His forefathers were instrumental in settling San Francisco. One great grandfather designing the cable cars and another starting Fireman’s Fund. His grandfather, Frank Howard Allen, founded the real estate company in Marin. His maternal grandfather, Edward Bullard, founded Bullard and Co. in Sausalito making safety equipment for the building of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Wheat discovered he had Parkinson’s disease when he was 49. The rest of the years he was in a slow decline enjoying his career even with the disease until 2017 when he went into assisted living in Santa Cruz.
Wheat was preceded in death by his dear brother and fellow sculptor, Peter Bishop Allen. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Rosemary Allen.
His sister, Joelle Allen Harris of Petaluma, Susanna Allen De Baker of San Anselmo, his daughter Lisa Meredith Ortiz, his son-in-law Rafael Ortiz of Santa Cruz, his daughter, Daphne Joelle Mejia, his son-in-law Richard Mejia. He leaves his beloved grandchildren, Chloe Ortiz, Truth Ortiz, Israel Mejia, Peter Mejia, River Mejia.
In Lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in his memory to Save-the-Redwoods League or to the Mendocino Art Center and the Mendocino Presbyterian church.