A. Clinton Allen III, aka Big Daddy, passed away at Mass General Hospital in Boston on December 6, 2020, due to complications from heart surgery. Of all the names by which Clint was known, Big Daddy, the name that his grandchildren called him, was his favorite. He had the initials BD monogrammed onto the cuffs and pockets of his dress shirts. At 76 years of age, Big Daddy was known to say “It’s been a hell of a ride.” All who knew and loved him, and there were many, would certainly agree.
Clint was born on February 6, 1944, in Brockton, Mass. to Lorraine and Arthur Allen. Clint attended Cardinal Spellman High School in Brockton where he was an All-American Football player, graduating in 1962. He spent a Post-Graduate year at Exeter Academy before matriculating at Harvard University from which he graduated in 1967. Clint played football at Harvard, and then rowed on the Heavyweight Varsity Men’s crew team. He was the stroke of the 1966 undefeated crew that set the upstream course record at the annual Harvard-Yale regatta. Clint retained his love of rowing his entire life, later serving on the board of Vespoli, the world’s finest maker of racing shells.
One of the ways Clint earned spending money through his school years was through his extraordinary musical talent. He could play most any instrument by ear, but guitar and piano were his specialties. In the late 1950s, he worked the coffee houses in Cambridge with his trio “The Islanders,” appearing twice on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. The trio also spent a summer touring with Peter, Paul, and Mary.
Clint’s professional accomplishments were numerous and far exceeded what he could only dream of growing up in a cold-water flat in Brockton. He started his career in investment banking at Dominick and Dominick, and years later became the CEO of Burgess & Leith/Advest Inc. Clint originated the initial Blockbuster Video deal with Wayne Huizenga in 1987, and joined the board of Blockbuster until the company was sold to Viacom in 1994. During that time Clint even stepped in as the CEO of the Miami Dolphins for a one-week stint. Clint liked to note that he was the only CEO of a professional football team who never lost a game. Clint began his board member career at age 32, and since then served on 18 public company boards including Blockbuster Video, Swiss Army, LKQ Corp, Brooks Automation, Psychemedics, The DeWolfe Companies, and Steinway Musical Instruments. In 2004 he founded the American College of Corporate Directors (formerly The Corporate Directors Group) which he continued to run until his passing.
Clint’s jobs weren’t always so prestigious though. In elementary school he pumped gas during the 4am shift and then hitchhiked to school. And in high school, to earn extra money, he would drug test the racing dogs at the Raynham Track, earning himself the title of “Piss Catcher” which he would laugh was a promotion from his prior post at the track.
Alongside his significant business accomplishments, Clint had an enormous zest for life and was always cooking up new business ideas and exciting ventures. Some of the businesses he launched were Canyon Lures, The Boston Big Game Fishing Club which ran the “Martha’s Vineyard Monster Shark Tournament,” as well as an aerial photography venture. He and his brother Rick competed in the “Cannonball Run” together, winning the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb section of the race. Clint was an accomplished SCUBA diver, always loving the ocean, and becoming an expert on sharks. He loved fried clams. He learned all about wine and had a magnificent collection. He became a historian of World War II. He also became a certified pilot, often coming back to their summer home on Lake Champlain by airplane, and landing on a dirt strip surrounded by cornfields.
As the father of three strong daughters, and husband to a strong wife, Clint was an avid champion of women, including in athletics and in the boardroom. He helped build the girl’s crew program at Noble & Greenough school and coached his youngest daughter to a National Championship in 1992. Through his work at the American College of Corporate Directors, he was a tireless advocate of matching talented women with public company boards.
Clint was a member of the President’s Council at Massachusetts General Hospital. Never forgetting the lucky breaks he was given, he endowed the A. Clinton Allen Scholarship at Harvard University for two students of Harvard College. With his wife Lawson, they endowed The Lawson and Clint Allen Scholarship through the Adirondack Foundation, supporting students of the Essex-Willsboro, NY school district in their post-high school education. Clint was a generous and enthusiastic supporter of many non-profits including Harvard University, Cardinal Spellman High School, CFES-Brilliant Pathways, and the North Country ASPCA.
Perhaps one of Clint’s most prominent hallmarks though was his joy in interacting with people across all walks of life. Maybe it was his booming laugh, his impeccable comedic timing, or his insatiably buoyant attitude that won him the love and respect of all types. Or maybe it was the fact that Clint never forgot where he came from, and he truly enjoyed the company of all people who worked hard for an honest day’s pay. In his office Clint kept a photograph of the three-decker house in which he grew up.
There was no company he enjoyed more though, than that of his family. He leaves behind his wife of nearly 50 years, Lawson Prince Allen (Needham, MA), his daughters and sons-in-law, Samantha and David Adams and their children Walker, Barrett, and Campbell Adams (Dover, Ma); Lawson and Lars Albright and their children Sage, and Nate Clinton Albright (Brookline, MA); and his daughter Walker Allen and her daughter Faye Lorraine Kessler (San Francisco, CA). Clint also leaves a brother Richard Allen (Rochester, MA), and a sister Jane Tougas-Francis (Marion, MA). Finally, he will be missed deeply by his adored pug, Jelly, and his boxer, Bonnie.
One of Clint’s favorite sayings, which he was known to often repeat, was he had “no interest in being the richest guy in the cemetery.” If riches are measured by a lifetime of broad and deep friendships, the respect and admiration of many, and the true love of family, then we must admit, that was one piece of advice he did not heed. He just may be the richest guy in the cemetery, and he undoubtedly enriched all who knew and loved him. He will be deeply missed.
A memorial service will be planned for the Summer, 2021. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to The Lawson and Clint Allen Scholarship at the Adirondack Foundation. Remembrances are welcome at www.forevermissed.com/clintallen.
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