March 27, 2022
The Briscoe Center mourns the loss of Raye Virginia Allen, author, cultural historian, and civic leader. Well known for her volunteer activities, Allen was an ardent supporter of the Briscoe Center and a longtime member of its Advisory Council. She passed away on March 26, 2022, in her beloved hometown of Temple, Texas.
“Raye Virginia was a remarkable woman and a great friend,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the center. “A gifted writer and devoted advocate of Texas history, she gave her time and talents freely to a wide range of cultural and historical causes. She was a great lady in every sense of the word, and will be missed dearly by the University of Texas community.”
Born on May 27, 1929, Allen graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in the Plan II Honors program and an M.A. in American Studies. In 1997, Allen published Gordon Conway: Fashioning a New Woman, an illustrated biography profiling Texas-born costume designer, fashion artist and illustrator Gordon Conway. The book was awarded the Liz Carpenter Women’s History Award from the Texas State Historical Association and the Violet Crown Non-Fiction Award from the Austin Writers’ League.
A Life Member of the Texas Exes, Allen and her husband, the late H. K. Allen, raised a multi-generational Longhorn family. She was appointed to The University of Texas Centennial Commission and 125th Commission. Allen placed her own papers [https://txarchives.org/utcah/finding_aids/01015.xml] at the Briscoe Center and donated textiles to UT’s human ecology department. She also assisted the university with placing the Gordon Conway archive at the Harry Ransom Center.
Among her achievements in civic leadership, Ms. Allen served as co-founder and president of the Cultural Activities Center in Temple, Texas, an early arts council formed in the 1950s; as a gubernatorial appointee on the Texas Commission for the American Revolution Bicentennial in 1971; as a founding trustee of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in 1975; and as the founder of the Friars Creek Preserve, Green Oaks, and natural heritage sites. In addition to her service on the Briscoe Center’s advisory council, she also served on the boards of the McDonald Observatory, the Texas State Society (Washington, DC), and the Texas State Historical Commission. She chaired the LBJ Birthday Celebration in the nation’s capital. The Raye-Allen Elementary School in Temple is named in her honor.