Salvationists mourn loss of a good friend in the death of Steve Allen
BY SUE SCHUMANN WARNER –
NATIONAL COMMANDER Commissioner Robert Watson, Jayne Meadows and Steve Allen at NAOC ’99.
The Salvation Army lost a long time friend and enthusiastic supporter with the death of Steve Allen.
One of the most creative men of the 20th century, Allen was the founder and first host of NBC’s Tonight Show. He was also a musician, author, and outspoken critic of the country’s failing morality. At the time of his death at age 78, he was in the process of writing his 54th book, in which he critiqued violence and vulgarity in the popular media.
Allen gave unstintingly of himself during his many years of association with The Salvation Army, stretching back to the 1940s. “Steve Allen generously gave his time and talent in support of our ministries, programs and activities,” said Community Relations and Development Secretary Captain Robert Rudd. “Steve’s contributions to the Army of Stars program and, most recently, his masterful hosting of the 1999 National Advisory Organization’s Conference ‘Army of Stars’ awards program are but two of his many involvements with us. His unprecedented commitment and high professional standards and generosity remain unmatched. We are saddened by his passing and continue to pray for his family and many personal friends, asking God to provide each with his enduring comfort and peace.”
Allen’s affection for the Army and its mission was greatly appreciated. “I have had the privilege of knowing a number of well-known celebrities who have assisted The Salvation Army through the years,” said former Community Relations and Development Secretary Robert Bearchell. “None has made more of a commitment of their time and energy than Steve Allen, both locally and nationally. Steve had a genuine love for the Army and a thorough knowledge of our ministry. He will be missed.”
New Frontier Editor Robert Docter, who wrote, produced and directed the Army of Stars for more than 35 years, had this to say about Allen: “Salvationists will always remember him for his tremendously quick humor and resistance to off-color jokes or language. He would show up at innumerable Christmas kettle kick-offs, and had a habit of saying ‘yes’ to almost anything the Army asked him to do, including hosting the Friday night celebration at NAOC, and hosting the Army of Stars one year.” Docter recalled that Allen wrote a song, “Let’s Go to Church Next Sunday,” which premiered on a Salvation Army radio program in the late 1940s.
Colonel Robert Tobin (R) former Community Relations and Development Secretary and a fan of Allen’s since his own school days (and Allen’s radio days) met Allen and his wife, Jayne Meadows, when they did guest work for The Salvation Army.
“Their appearances were among the most successful and appreciated of any celebrities with whom we worked,” Tobin said. “For one thing, they both lived by a standard that set them above the crowd and which precluded any embarrassment coming back to those they represented.
“They also maintained a high professional standard over the past 40 plus years. In both fields, they were role models for all young Americans and comers in the arts and entertainment field.”