Published in The Washington Post on May 8, 2020.
James E. Allen, Jr.
May 9, 1942 - April 24, 2020
James E. Allen, Jr., a graduate of M.I.T. with a degree in engineering and former executive
vice-president and treasurer of The Henry B. Gilpin Company, at one time a leader in the
wholesale drug industry, died April 24, 2020 at Shady Grove Hospital of viral pneumonia. He
Mr. Allen, the son of the late James E. Allen, Sr. and the late Virginia McComas Allen, was
born at Sibley Hospital in D.C.
He graduated from Wilson High School (1960).
He began his career in the 1960's with Corning Glass in Massachusetts. He later moved to
California to work for Memorex in Silicon Valley before relocating to Maryland. He was the
owner and president of the Washington Bridge Club and hosted many regional tournaments
for members. Within his social circles, Mr. Allen was known for his ability to network and to
encourage the support of local restaurants and small businesses. He applied his many talents
to his personal life, engineering and hosting numerous events for family and friends where all
enjoyed his culinary skills. As a connoisseur of fine wines and single malt scotch, he frequently
held tasting parties. He was the liaison with the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service for
his condominium association. An avid horseman, in his younger years he spent weekends
riding at Rock Creek stables in D.C., was a counselor at Camp Waredaca and after his
father's death in 2004, he and his brother Richard A. Allen managed the trust and the property
for the family farm in Clearville, PA. With his fondness for games, family and friends remember
the clever scavenger hunts he arranged to initiate first-time farm guests to locate their luggage
he had safely tucked away in one of the outer buildings. He was a master at croquet and
horseshoes. He loved music and as a young man was a member of the boys' choir at All
Saints Episcopal Church on Chevy Chase Circle. He was an accomplished piano player with
a piano bar in his home and supported local musicians often requesting the song "Hallelujah"
written by Leonard Cohen and "San Antonio Rose" performed by his friend's jazz band.
In 1961, he married Dona Copithorne Allen. His travels with his wife took him around the world
where he documented each trip with a large album replete with photos, brochures, ticket stubs
and history. His interest in genealogy led him to create an Allen family tree and compile a book
of Copithorne History focused on his wife's ancestors. In addition to his wife, survivors include
three children, Elizabeth Garagusi of Darnestown, James E. Allen, III (Cindy) of Sterling, VA,
and Jennifer Bowden of Sterling, VA, five grandchildren, Kyle, Bridget and Charlotte Garagusi,
Tyler Bowden and Alexa Allen, a brother Richard A. Allen (Jane) of Dayton, MD, a stepmother
Reid F. Allen of Potomac, a stepsister Sharon Allen Gilder (Mark) of Gaithersburg, a
stepbrother Thomas R. Allen of Gaithersburg, a nephew Gregory Allen (Mariana) of Dayton,
numerous cousins and a wonderful group of close friends.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date.