- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2004

James E. Allen Sr., 88, pharmaceutical exec

James Elbert Allen Sr., 88, retired president and chairman of the board of the former Henry B. Gilpin Co., died of heart failure Jan. 11 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville. He was 88.

Mr. Allen, a native of Largo, Fla., hitchhiked to the District in 1933 from his family dairy farm with $10. He worked as a pharmaceutical salesman in 1936 for Muth Bros. & Co., joining Gilpin in 1940.

He became president of Gilpin in 1957. He served one year during World War II as a pharmacist’s mate at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Mr. Allen made Gilpin one of the first distributors in the country to standardize drugs. Gilpin was the first in the country to manufacture tinted face powder with a violet fragrance, known as “Talcolette,” and developed the first insecticide to include pyrethrum, known as “Black Flag.”

His business affiliations include past president of the National Wholesale Druggists’ Association, the National Drug Trade Conference,the National Association of Wholesalers and Distribution Services Inc.

He served on the boards of the Washington Heart Association, National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, Washington Home for Foundlings and Morris Cafritz Memorial Hospital.

An avid horseman, Mr. Allen was active in equestrian events at Rock Creek Stables, lending his support to its therapeutic-riding program.

A collector and driver of horse-drawn carriages and wagons, Mr. Allen owned more than 20 horses. In 1959, he purchased a large farm in Bedford County, Pa., which he restored with accommodations for human and equine inhabitants.

A road in Clearsville, Pa., is named after him and a road and creek is named for his family near their former homestead in Clearwater, Fla.

He was a member of the Metropolitan Club, University Club, International Club, Capitol Hill Club and the Kiwanis Club of D.C., where he was well-known for his ability to deliver an eloquent invocation or benediction.

His first wife, Virginia McComas Allen, died in 1983 after 43 years of marriage.

Survivors include his wife of 19 years, Reid Fussell Allen of Potomac; two sons, James E. Allen Jr. of Montgomery Village and Richard A. Allen of Dayton, Md.; a stepdaughter, Sharon Allen Gilder of Gaithersburg; a stepson, Thomas R. Allen of Montgomery Village; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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