Paris remembers Bently Allen
Carl Bently Allen, a respected former coach and educator, passed away on Feb. 22. As the word traveled through the community, signs of his impact on the community began to flood in, from marquees around town to social media. Those who interacted with Bently had a story to tell, each one sharing how he enriched their life.
Bently came to Paris by mere chance, though many in the community will rightfully tell you they believe it was a divine appointment. In 1957, Allen was appointed a student teaching position in Paris, though he had no idea where the town even was. The rest is history. He met his wife-to-be shortly thereafter, and he and Carolyn have been an active part of the community since.
Most would think that teaching 7th-grade science and math would be an entry level position that one would hope to avoid with tenure. For Allen, it was an opportunity to fulfill a calling. He followed his love of sports and began coaching 7th grade and in 1959 became the director of the summer sports programs for the community, eventually leading the charge for the charter under the Boys Clubs of America, a program that is still active to this day.
For 40 years, Allen taught students in Paris. The 2018 yearbook, which was dedicated to Allen, stated, "You taught our teachers, and you coached our coaches." Stories of his interaction beyond the classroom or the ball field have been shared, and none with more smiles and laughs than from those he worked with as a member of the High School faculty. The Rev. Bill VanMeter shared many stories of mischievous interactions of life-long friends.
Allen was also a man of great faith, serving in positions from church janitor to deacon. In retirement, he would often make middle-of-the-night calls to open up the Community Outreach Building so area pastors could help families get emergency needs. Bently and Carolyn won numerous teaching and community service awards, including the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year from the Paris Chamber of Commerce.
Bently was an avid fan of his Arkansas Razorbacks and his Paris Eagles. He became a huge fan of the Paris Volleyball program and made most of their games. Head Coach Jordan Devine and players past and present served as honorary pallbearers. With his health failing, Bently coached his family in the final game. They spent time together and he shared his wishes. Carrying in the shirt from the back of his closet, Bently let them know he wanted to be buried in his favorite shirt, a wish they happily granted. He was laid to rest Friday wearing his Paris coaching shirt.