Robert T. “Tommy” Allen, PhD

Robert T. “Tommy” Allen, PhD passed away from heart failure on Friday, October 21, 2016 at the age of 76. He was born December 14, 1939 in Farmerville, LA, graduated from High School in 1958, earned a BS in entomology from Louisiana State University in 1962, and an MS in 1964. He joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 1968 and received his PhD (1969) from the University of Illinois in 1969. While at the University of Arkansas, Tommy worked on the ecology of ground beetles and became Curator of the Arthropod Museum. Due to his own collecting, that of his many graduate students, and by arranging for the purchase of important collections, he is credited with expanding that museum from a small voucher collection of crop insects into a highly valued systematic research collection with specimens from all over the world (many from habitats that no longer exist). Tommy was a founding member of the Willi Hennig Society and a member of many other entomological associations. He published numerous articles, described many new species, and coauthored the book, Only in Arkansas, on endemic species of Arkansas.

In 1991 Tommy accepted the position of Chair of the Department of Entomology and Applied Ecology, at the University of Delaware. He focused his research on the systematics and biogeography of the Symphyla, Diplura, and Protura (small soil arthropods) and was considered a world expert on those groups. Upon retirement in 1996, Tommy continued his work, traveling and collecting extensively throughout the United States. He was designated a Research Fellow at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and an Adjunct Professor, Mississippi Entomological Museum, Mississippi State University, Starkville, and donated over 25,000 additional specimens from his personal collection of North American insects to those institutions. He continued to have many close friends in his field and was particularly grateful to Dan Otte, PhD (ANSP) and Richard Brown, PhD (Mississippi Entomological Museum) for their support.

Tommy was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Jehu “Cotton” and Bebe Allen and his sisters, Sunshine Sturgeon and Mazie Jane Allen. He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Allen; his children, R. Jehu (Jay) Allen and Hannah S. Allen; and many other friends and family.

Visitation will be held St. Joseph Catholic Church at 607 University Drive in Starkville from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., Friday, October 28, followed by a funeral Mass. A private internment ceremony will be held at Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights, Minnesota at a later date. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made in his memory to The God’s Child Project, 721 Memorial Hwy, Bismarck, ND 58504.

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