James Roderick Allen Jr.

November 28, 1935May 2, 2024
Obituary of James Roderick Allen Jr.


Murphy Funeral Homes

James R. Allen, Jr. (November 28, 1935 - May 2, 2024) Leaving a grieving family and community, James Roderick Allen, Jr. passed away peacefully on May 2, 2024 after a sure and steady decline following the death of his beloved wife Anita, 18 months prior. He was 88. He was widely known to be generous, loving, witty and all-round wonderful. He was a proud Virginian and Arlingtonian. Jim hailed from Hanover County. He was born to Euodia Vaughan Allen and James Roderick Allen, Sr. in the residence at the back of their country store and filling station in “Gum Tree” on U.S. Route 1, the main East Coast thoroughfare at the time. He was certain that he invented the Frisbee, throwing paint can lids from a hill out back. Growing up, his large extended family and community were foundational. He helped with the family business and accompanied his father on inventory runs to Richmond’s waterfront business district. Jim enjoyed drama, glee club and athletics. He went on the attend local Randolph Macon College where he made lifelong friendships and was a Phi Delta Theta brother. He remained active with alumni and school leadership and returned often. In 1958, at the church adjacent to campus, he married Anita Heflin Allen, his grade school sweetheart. Soon after, they headed to Arlington to build their lives, where James Roderick or Jimmy, to most before, applied his charm and small-town approach to a far different area. In Arlington County Public Schools, Jim started at Wakefield High School and soon seized the opportunity to join the team that opened the new Yorktown High School. Generations of Yorktown Patriots remember Mr. Allen, or simply “Coach”, as warm, supportive, patient, encouraging and fair. For some, he was the heart and soul of YHS. He loved young people and, for 35 years, taught (biology mostly), coached and later directed athletics. Jim also shared his talents with the Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Laboratory, “the Arlington Outdoor Lab”, in Fauquier County from its inception. Jim loved living in Arlington and never wanted to live anywhere else. In the mid ’60’s, he moved to Charlottesville briefly for his graduate degree, but it was a means to an end. Jim’s easy, good-natured banter and lighthearted sense of humor attracted and motivated students and players. He often shared that the first soccer game he saw was the first one he ever coached. Ingeniously, he chose a single lucky game necktie and would cut it up at the end of each season to affix to the bottom of trophies. Jim cared deeply about the school but, more importantly, about individual students and players. He loved the sense of community, sharing enthusiasm, helping young people navigate personal development and knowing everyone. And he wanted everyone to know one another. He was a unifier. He always loved bumping into friends and former students. When people joined him at home, and he would step away to pick up something at the store in Westover, for instance, family would joke that he was out gathering others. A shining example of loyalty and devotion, he was an admirable husband and father. He adored his children and grandchildren; Doug and Sandra Allen (James and Jonathan), Michael and Meredith McCollum (Gannon, Deanna, Clay, and Gillian), and Elizabeth Truelove (Domenic and Aven LaRosa). He also considered himself to be a bonus, honorary granddad to Jake and Zack Allen. As grandchildren grew up, he made each a replica of a child size antique rocking chair. He famously had a vast collection of antique tools, furniture and homemaking items. Jim loved a good joke or an old joke. Occasionally, he worked on new material. His goal was to draw a person to him with a laugh (or an eye roll). What he really wanted was to bond with people and know them and form relationships. He was active in Arlington; The Better Sports Club, Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, the neighborhood, making his yard beautiful and more, but he was really all about loving and relating to others. For him, it was all small-town community building. He did this until the very end of his life - even at The Jefferson in Ballston where he enjoyed being with other residents and was grateful for staff who helped him. Jim's memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 19, 2024 at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church located at 1500 N Glebe Rd. in Arlington, VA. The service will begin at 2:00 P.M. In lieu of flowers, please consider boosting your community, calling or visiting an old friend, encouraging a young person, telling a good joke (or a groaner), or sharing a story about him. For those interested in making a charitable gift in remembrance, the family suggests considering the Arlington Outdoor Lab or the Better Sports Club of Arlington. Jim would be honored.

Show your support


Saturday, October 19, 2024

Celebration of Life Memorial Service

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Mount Olivet United Methodist Church