Dr. Allen M. Zeltzer
January 1, 1919 – February 10, 2019
The amazing Dr. Allen M. Zeltzer passed away peacefully on February 10, 2019 at the age of 100 years, 41 days. A talented actor with a commanding voice as resonant as any leading Shakespearean actor, an indefatigable athlete, a wildly funny man, a consummate entertainer, an unforgettable educator, and most of all, a loving, and greatly loved, husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. Allen was born on January 1, 1919, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. Allen’s mother was swept away by the world-wide plague that was the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918, succumbing a mere 10 days after his birth. Allen was raised by his father Joseph, and by Joseph’s second wife, Fanny Chover. Allen’s parents and extended family unfailingly stressed the value of education. By 1941 Allen had obtained his Bachelors and Masters of Arts degrees in Theater Arts from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
With World War II looming, Allen enlisted in the Army Air Corp and served until 1945, honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant. While stationed at March Field in California, Allen and a fellow serviceman explored the mountain town of Lake Arrowhead. Sans wheels, the young men hitched a ride that proved to be life changing. The good Samaritan driver introduced Allen to his niece, a beautiful young blonde, Marion Andelson. With just one look, Allen was “head over heels”; a condition that lasted for almost 68 years. After some determined wooing, he convinced the gorgeous teenager that he was her “soul mate” and Marion and Allen married on April 18, 1943.
After the war, Allen put Detroit (and his theatrical ambitions) in the rear-view mirror and settled down in southern California with his bride and started a family, first Jeffrey followed by Linda and Nancy. To provide, Allen reluctantly became a small business owner. But a “dream deferred” does not disintegrate, although over the years the dream morphed into a desire to pursue an academic career in the theatrical arts. In 1959 the family uprooted to Detroit so that Allen could complete the final phase of his academic goals, a doctorate degree in theater at Wayne State. While working towards his degree Allen attended graduate classes, wrote his dissertation, worked night jobs and picked up extra cash writing, producing and starring in radio and television commercials on local stations. His hard work, and Marion’s sacrifices paid off. In 1963 Allen earned his Ph.D. and was rewarded with an offer to teach in the Theater department at, then, Orange State College in Fullerton California. Once again, Allen made the cross-country trip with his family to start his “second act”, at age 44, settling in Yorba Linda.
First as a lecturer, and ultimately as a full professor, Allen taught for 30 years at what ultimately became California State University at Fullerton. An effervescent, enthusiastic and exceedingly popular professor in the classroom, Allen also had opportunities to “tread the boards” as he was regularly drafted to act in CSUF productions to great applause and boffo reviews. In 1967 Allen and Marion turned Allen’s educating skills into a world tour opportunity, as they sailed the seven seas while Allen served as a professor on Chapman College’s World Campus Afloat.
Acting wasn’t Allen’s only extracurricular activity. Already an avid tennis player, Allen added cycling to his exercise regimen. Never one to do things by half, he rapidly became president of the County’s premier cycling organization the Orange County Wheelman. Not content with leading the group, and completing 100-mile bike rides, he eventually became the “Peddling Professor” leading 15 bike tours to Europe. From Paris to Senegal, to Istanbul to Rio De Janeiro, from Amsterdam to Salzburg, globe trotters Allen and Marion, gloried in the adventure and gathered mementos with which they enriched their home with memories of the four corners of earth, at the same time making life long friends of the cyclists who joined in their journeys.
Allen’s third act commenced in 1991 when he retired from CSUF. Empty nesters, Allen and Marion (who had by then had become an accomplished visual artist in her own right) moved to Palmia in Mission Viejo, California. For the next 20 years, Allen and Marion were one the most popular and active couples in this senior community. In addition to forging lasting and lively relationships, Allen started a theatrical group, The Palmia Players, regularly serving as star and/or emcee of the Palmia productions. Allen also mounted regular Readers Theater Productions at the Mission Viejo library, delighting audiences with enthusiastic readings of the classic radio shows, Burns and Allen, Fibber McGee, The Whistler, and many more. The couple continued to travel, with friends and on educational tours often participating as a lecturer. Always learning, always, growing, always educating, always enthusiastic, that was Allen. In 2011 Allen’s sweet-heart of 68 years, Marion, passed away. Engulfed in grief, Allen was comforted in the embrace of his children, grand-children, and his legion of friends, as he resolutely faced the next phase of life without his lifelong mate.
But Allen’s fourth act saw the blossoming of a new relationship, with Barbara Boronkay, with whom he spent the next several years, enjoying life, friends, the theater, travel, and, of course, Allen’s continuing theatrical endeavors. Allen’s family embraced Barbara and were delighted that Allen had found a lovely and fun companion to share this next phase of his life. In 2016 Allen followed Barbara in her move to The Regency, and apartment community in Laguna Woods, where he quickly emerged as a leader, including assuming emcee duties as he regularly announced the afternoon entertainment programs. Allen himself staged of number of entertaining readings for his fellow residents, his specialty being his hilarious rendition of Mel Brooks “the Two-Thousand-Year-Old Man.”
A life of regular exercise, healthy eating, and living happily and enthusiastically resulted in Allen reaching his 100th birthday on January 1, 2019. A party attended by at least 100 friends, family and admirers celebrated this amazing accomplishment on January 5, 2019.
Allen was an independent thinker, outspoken in his beliefs, and firm in his conviction that all who share this planet are deserving of respect and fair treatment. We will miss this singular man: loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend; An example to all of a life well and truly lived.
For Family and friends who would like to make a memorial gift in Allen Zeltzer’s name, same can be made to support the College of the Arts, California State University at Fullerton. Donations can be made by credit card by contacting Associate Director, Ann Steichen, by telephone at 657-278-7124.
For gifts made by check, they can be made payable to “C.S.F.P.F.” (Cal State Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation), either with a note or Allen Zeltzer’s name written in the memo line, and mailed to:
C.S.F.P.F. ATTN: Ann Steichen College of the Arts 2600 Nutwood Ae, Suite 830 Fullerton, CA 92832
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Dr. Allen M. Zeltzer
February 19, 2019
Allan was a long time member of our Society for Humanistic Judaism group in Laguna Woods Village and I remember him with love.
When I first met him, I asked if he was related to Mike Zeltzer from Detroit who I knew well from the Sholem Aleichem Institute, there. He retorted that he was his brother - and from that time, I told Allen - you are the 'nice' brother - our private joke.
I was interested to read about his Step Mother being a Chover. I knew there was a strong relationship between the Zeltzers and the Chovers, as Sylvia Chover (artist) was also a member of SAI.
Allen will be greatly missed by all who enjoyed him. I offer my condolences to the Family.
Past President of OCSHJ, Laguna Woods Village.