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In memoriam: Emeritus professor David Allison '53

Barry McNamara
11/09/2011
David Allison ’53, emeritus professor of biology, died Nov. 9, 2011, at the age of 80.

Allison is one of few men in the history of the college to be inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame and receive a Distinguished Service Award. The latter honor was presented to him in 2008.

After attending Monmouth College for three years, Allison completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois and, one year later, his master’s. In 1960, he earned his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. Allison was working as a cotton genetics researcher at the University of Arizona when a temporary teaching position opened at Monmouth. He jumped at the opportunity and, after he was permanently hired, “My love for the college and this community kept me around.”

When Allison joined the biology department in 1962, it also included Robert Buchholz and John Ketterer, and the three men were together in the department until Ketterer’s retirement in 1986. Ten years later, Allison was one of three retiring professors to give the commencement address.

“David was more than a botanist,” said former president Sue Huseman at the time. “His teachings extended beyond imparting biological facts. Students were taught to consider the facts, but to apply their knowledge wisely.”

Huseman added that Allison treated students with respect and dignity, but demanded each take responsibility, not only for biology, but for life itself. Never afraid to speak his mind, Huseman said Allison worked hard for what he thought was best for the college and its students.

In 1999, the biology department dedicated its herbarium in Allison’s honor.

For Allison, Monmouth College was more than just the school he attended for three years and the college where he taught biology for 34 more. It’s the place where he grew up. As a youth, he rode his sled down the big hill behind Wallace Hall and sneaked into football games to avoid the nickel admission fee.

“I go back a long way with this place,” he said of the college at the time of his retirement. “It’s part of my make-up.”

Little did Allison know as a youth that he would be asked to attend many MC sporting events free of charge – first as an athlete on the Fighting Scots’ football and track teams and, after he had joined the faculty, as a game filmer and public address announcer. He remained active as the voice of Fighting Scot men’s basketball well past his retirement, extending his association with MC athletics to more than half a century.

He is survived by his wife, Joyce Keating Allison ’53, and three children – Stuart, William and Marjorie.

A memorial fund has been established for Monmouth College. A memorial service will be held on Nov. 29 at 2 p.m. in the college's Dahl Chapel and Auditorium.