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Dr. Charles Edward Allen

Dr. Charles Edward Allen, age 82, won his courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease and stepped into heaven on April 17, 2013.

Dr. Allen was born in Erwin, TN on April 11, 1931, the son of John Wesley Allen and Willie Mae Johnson Allen, and the youngest of six children. His childhood observations of rural doctors and the attention they gave to their patients led to his decision to become a physician, and were a lifelong influence on the compassionate care with which he practiced medicine.

Dr. Allen attended Milligan College and East Tennessee State University. He received his M.D. degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis in 1954 at the age of 23. He was a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and a Major in the Army Reserve. He returned to UT Memphis for residencies in internal medicine and cardiology and was the Chief Resident in Medicine and a Fellow in Cardiology. In 1962, he joined The Medical Group (later First Choice Health Care) in Johnson City, where he continued to practice medicine until his retirement in 2001.

Dr. Allen recognized the critical shortage of physicians in northeast Tennessee, and in 1963 he conceived the vision of establishing a medical school in Johnson City. Under his leadership, political, business, and educational leaders throughout East Tennessee joined in a 14-year effort to establish the school; and in 1978 the College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University, in conjunction with the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Mountain Home, accepted its first class. The school has been nationally recognized for excellence in training primary care physicians. Dr. Allen served the College of Medicine as Associate Dean, Acting Dean, Professor of Medicine, and Clinical Professor. He chaired the Johnson City/Washington County Area Chamber of Commerce’s Regional Medical Center Commission, which led to the development of the Med-Tech Corridor and established the region as a thriving center of medical care, research, and industry.

As a result of his efforts on behalf of the medical school, Dr. Allen received the Governor’s Outstanding Tennessean Award, Distinguished Service Awards from the Tennessee Medical Association and the ETSU Alumni Association, and the Tennessee Hospital Association’s Membership Service Award. In 1985, the Charles E. Allen Annual Distinguished Lectureship in Medicine was established at the medical school. One of the historic buildings on the VA campus is named in his honor, and the VA recognized his contributions, saying “The birth of medical education in Johnson City and its impact on the health care delivery system for this region should be recorded in history as among his greatest accomplishments. His stature will always stand tall, and we honor him for never losing faith nor aborting the cause.” Dr. Paul Stanton, immediate past President of ETSU and former Dean of the medical school said, “If it were not for Ed Allen, there would be no ETSU College of Medicine. Our lives would be different; our region would not be the same…Those of us who have been in Dr. Allen’s company regard him as one of the most quiet, kindhearted individuals you could ever know. But his voice of determination for the medical school cause was amplified, energetic, and unwavering…Most importantly, defeat was not to be found in his vocabulary.”

Dr. Allen was committed to excellence in medical education and practice. He was a longtime delegate to the American Medical Association, where he was a member of a number of committees pertaining to medical education and was Director of the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education and Trustee for the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. He was a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American Society of Internal Medicine. In Tennessee, he was the founding President of the Appalachian Regional Center for the Healing Arts, President of the Tennessee Medical Association, Director of the TMA Medical Education Fund and member of the TMA Judicial Council, State Health Planning Council, and the State Board of Medical Examiners. At the Johnson City Medical Center Hospital, he served as Chairman of the Department of Medicine and of the Medical Staff, and as Director of the Coronary Care and Medical Intensive Care Units.

Awards for his contributions to medicine include the Outstanding Citizen Award from the National Foundation March of Dimes, and the Spirit of Johnson City Award from Mountain States Health Alliance. The TMA recognized him as an Outstanding Physician, and established a scholarship fund in his honor. He was featured in the book The 50 Most Positive Doctors in America, published in 1996.

Dr. Allen’s patients always came first. He said, “The very essence of professionalism in medicine is that our first obligation is to our patients. If service to our patients becomes secondary to financial considerations, then the practice of medicine will cease to be a profession. We as physicians have a higher calling.” He made house calls and morning and evening hospital rounds until he retired. His patients said they often felt better just from seeing him walk into the room with his gentle smile and kind manner. His most important advice to young physicians was, “Take time for your patients.”

His final contribution to medical science was his participation in an experimental drug study for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease at the ETSU College of Medicine.

Dr. Allen was a member of the Board of Directors for Hamilton/SunTrust Bank. He was also a founder and served for many years on the Board of Directors of State of Franklin Savings Bank.

Dr. Allen’s life was undergirded by his profound commitment to Christ. He was a member of First Christian Church, where he served as an elder for forty years. He was a longtime member of the Board of Trustees at Emmanuel School of Religion and at Milligan College, and was on the Board of Directors and Medical Advisory Committee for Appalachian Christian Village. Awards for Christian leadership and service include the Distinguished Service Award from Appalachian Christian Village, the Servant Leader Award from First Christian Church, and the Fide et Amore Distinguished Service Award from Milligan College.

Dr. Allen was a woodworker, builder, photographer, gardener, musician, antique car and train enthusiast, and author of hilariously awful poetry and puns. His children knew if something were broken, he could fix it; if there were a question, he could answer it; if wisdom were needed, he could provide it; if an issue seemed unsolvable, he would quietly entrust it to the hands of God.

Dr. Allen is survived by his beloved wife of 57 years, Joy Lee Sechrest Allen; by his children who count it a blessing to have had him as their father: Jill Allen Lagerberg and her husband Gregg, Charles E. Allen, Jr. and his wife Barbara, John Allen and his wife Lesley, and Jennifer Allen; by 3 grandchildren who adored their “Dr. Dad”: Charles “Chip” Allen, III, Wes Allen, and Carin Lagerberg; by dear sisters Eva Allen Nourse and Gail Sechrest Thompson and her husband Shelton; and by a number of nieces and nephews.

The family extends heartfelt thanks to Dr. Allen’s caregivers, who have lovingly ministered to him: Josie Fiske, Rita Snodgrass, Bonna Moyers, Heather Hudson, Lena Vicendese, Sherry Williams, and Teresa Davis; and to the dedicated staff of Appalachian Christian Village.

Those who desire to make memorial contributions may do so to the National Alzheimer’s Association, Attn: Donor Services, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60601 or online at; or to the ETSU College of Medicine Scholarship Fund, at ETSU Foundation, Box 70721, Johnson City, TN 37614 or online at

Services for Dr. Allen were held on April 21, 2013. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family and viewed at or faxed to (423) 610-7177. Arrangements for the Allen family are in the care of Tetrick Funeral Services, 3001 Peoples St., Johnson City, TN 37604. (423) 610-7171