04/21/09 — Couple marks anniversary with $500 scholarship

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Couple marks anniversary with $500 scholarship

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 21, 2009 1:46 PM

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Ed and Rae Ann Allen present a check to Dianne Riley, MOC alumni relations director. The couple has sponsored an MOC scholarship.

Instead of a fancy diamond ring to celebrate their 64th anniversary, Ed Allen gave his wife, Rae Ann, the chance to help send a student to college.

It is a recognition of not only of the couple's decades of love, but a logical next step in two lives spent helping to change children's lives.

Allen opened an endowed student scholarship fund in his wife's honor for their 60th anniversary four years ago. On Wednesday, he presented a $3,380 check to MOC alumni relations director Dianne Riley, taking the account to $10,004 -- more than enough now for the interest to fund a $500 scholarship next year.

This is the couple's second endowment. The first was established in 1999, shortly after their son, Keith, who attended Mount Olive College, died. The Allens decided to create a scholarship in his memory.

The couple's generosity has touched the Mount Olive College staff, Mrs. Riley said.

"I have learned a lot in this relationship about selflessness and the caring they have for others to want to do this for young people," she said.

As the endowment continues to grow, the scholarship amount will grow, too.

The newest scholarship will go to a transfer student who is in the college's athletic program, just like their son, who transferred from East Carolina University.

The move to Mount Olive changed Keith's outlook on the future, turning an average college performance into a stellar one.

"He was more settled here, and that made a difference for him," Mrs. Riley said.

Allen said he started the endowments because he feels strongly about working with young people.

"I've got this philosophy that the young people in this school are going to make or break us in a few years," Allen said. "This is an opportunity to keep working with kids after we're long gone."

Allen, who is 86, started the second endowment in time for his wife to fully enjoy the moment.

Mrs. Allen, who is 82, has Alzheimer's.

"She's taken care of me for 60 years, and I've only been taking care of her for three and a half," said Allen, who met his wife in 1945 shortly after he returned from an Army tour overseas. She was walking. He was putting gas in his car. He offered her a ride.

She has been with him ever since -- a love story that has spanned more than 60 years.

The couple raised five children and cared for hundreds of orphans -- 10 at a time -- as residents in a group home.

"Rae was strict. Everybody had chores. We put them to work and made them save half of their money," Allen said.

Although she is subdued and quiet today, Mrs. Allen used to have a quick wit and a feistiness about her, her husband said.

"If she didn't win with me, she'd give me the silent treatment. Then, she would look at me with those beautiful brown eyes and tell me I'm a sweetheart. She still does. It gets me every time," he said. "She loves kids and she's good with them. She knows how to handle them."

Allen recalled the time his wife sat up with a girl who was on drugs for eight days sequestered in a room at the group home. The girl grew up and went to college.

Today, she has a great job and still calls the Allens "Mom and Dad."

"All these years they have been about helping young people," Mrs. Riley said.

Mrs. Allen's endowment has been helping students ever since the fund was established in 2005, but now, Mrs. Riley said, it has become a named scholarship.

"Every spring, we have an endowment luncheon where the students get to meet their donors," she said. "And next spring, we look forward to having two recipients sit at the table with the Allens."