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Dennis A. Allred

Died: February 1, 1990

Dennis entered Yale from Castro Valley High School. Freshman year he roomed in Farnam with Ed Crotty and Bill Nelson. He was a member of the Political Union and the Pi Sigma Alpha honor society in political science. He coordinated the St. Mary’s High School Tutoring Project for More House and worked on the Puerto Rican Project for Dwight Hall. After getting an M.P.A. at Princeton he worked for the U.S. Information Agency in the State Department. He was working in the consulate in Santiago, Chile during the coup that ousted Allende. An American student, Marc Cooper, wrote about getting help from Dennis after the coup.


“An American friend of mine, an Allendista, had told me some months before that a guy named Dennis Allred, who served as the U.S. Embassy’s student affairs counselor, was actually a fine fellow. Allred, my friend told me, was some sort of closet Allende sympathizer and was taking secret delight in handing out U.S. scholarships to the most radical of Chilean students. He had left his home phone and I called. ‘Dennis, you don’t know me,’ I told him after he answered his phone. ‘But I’m an American and I’m in trouble. I need…’ ‘Okay,” he said, cutting me short. ‘I don’t care about the details. If you need a place to stay you’re welcome here.’ A big red-head, Allred greeted me alone in his luxury apartment. I was so pent-up I could hardly talk at first. And then I began to talk too much. ‘I don’t need to hear the details of your story. You can stay here as long as you have to,’ he said. Over a real meal Allred told me the good and the bad. ‘This apartment theoretically has diplomatic immunity, theoretically Chilean security cannot enter,’ he said. ‘On the other hand, the morning of the coup, the U.S. Embassy took my passport, locked it in a safe, sent me home, and told me they’d call me when I should come back into work. So I don’t know how much protection we really have.’ The word was apparently out on Allred’s generosity. Over the weekend the apartment had filled up with other hunted prey. A few had been beaten by troops who had broken down their doors. Others, like me, had nowhere to go. Others were there because I had contacted them. Allred had taken the courageous step of abandoning his direct-dial diplomatic phone to us — a luxury in a country where long distance calls were difficult to make in the best of times, and where the so-called ‘press calls’ we were making now had to be cleared by a military censor. With Allred’s diplomatic phone we skipped over all the obstacles.”

Dennis resigned from the Foreign Service in 1973, returned to Chicago and served as director of the International Trade Club. He later moved to California, where he taught history, U.S. government, and economics.

He died on February 23, 1990 of AIDS. He was survived by his mother.

John Foy remembers:
Dennis I recall as something of a gadfly who showed up in our Saybrook room rather often full of vinegar and spoiling for a fight on ideological issues. I was his patsy — a naive high school (vs. prep) guy who had little experience in the politics of the 60s, even if I had been a debater; and Dennis and I went at it many a night. He infuriated me, but I later recognized that I was woefully under-prepared to understand some big pictures. I still think I was right and he was wrong (what else?), but the experience was very educational for me! Dennis was quite a guy, and I’m very sorry for his loss. Sounds like he had quite the “interesting” career!

Edmund Crotty remembers:
From my first encounter with Dennis, as my freshman year roommate, I was challenged to keep up with, even at a distance, his active intelligence, his wide-ranging interests and his vibrant personality. Whatever the field — history, art, architecture, politics, culture, and so on — he was both well informed and eagerly searching to learn more. He embodied the liberal arts ideal. Soon, and ever more so over time, he became a great friend, a soul-brother, and my own personal higher-educator. When we shared home-visits during junior year spring-break, he guided me expertly around his native Chicago, but then also set the itinerary on my Boston turf. While I knew how to navigate, he knew all the best destinations. Notably, he was enormously devoted to his classmates, many of whom I met first through him. When we arrived at Yale, he had memorized the Old Campus directory, with the goal of meeting everyone — which he might actually have accomplished. He could be a sharp critic of an argument or situation, but never lacked in fairness or compassion. His intense concern for world peace and international relations led naturally into the U.S. Foreign Service; but, unfortunately, for someone with Dennis’ level of “pragmatic-idealism,” that was during the Nixon years. After two postings to nations with U.S. supported military regimes — Brazil in a period of escalating official repression and torture, followed by Chile at the time of the brutal overthrow of the elected Allende government — he no longer saw a respectable path for himself within that organizational structure. For many years he organized public forums in Chicago around a variety of foreign policy topics. His final working years were spent as a high school social studies teacher in the Bay Area of California, probably the region in which he felt most at-home. As a an educator, public servant and over-all humanist, he was truly outstanding. To this day, when I visit a place of historic or other significance, I often consider: “What would Dennis think of this?” and strongly feel both his absence and presence in the moment.