Joseph Thurman Allmon, 86, died on August 17, 2007, in Ithaca, New York, to which he moved in 2003 after living for 40 years in Greenville. He had suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease for several years and died from complications associated with the return of prostate cancer, for which he had had surgery in 1991.
Joe Allmon was born in Mize, Smith County, Miss., on March 20, 1921. The family moved to nearby Newton in 1925. His father was a farmer and Baptist minister. His mother died when Joe was only 10, and her death was a loss from which he never fully recovered. With the loving help of an aunt, he was able to attend college, graduating with a B.A. from Mississippi College in 1942.
Joe received his ThM degree from Louisville Theological Seminary in 1945 and entered the U.S. Navy, where he served as a Chaplain until 1946. His first Navy posting was to St. Albans Naval Hospital on Long Island, and he was thus introduced to metropolitan New York, where he was to live for most of the next 20 years. He remained in the Naval Reserve until 1952, when he was discharged as a Lieutenant. Yet he grew disenchanted with institutionalized Christianity and became a Unitarian in the late 1940s. In September 1945 Joe married Vauda Carolyn Burson of Atlanta, Ga.
From 1946-49, Joe served as a Personnel Counselor for Western Electric Company in Kearny, N.J., and participated as a non-directive counselor in the famous Hawthorne Studies in Motivation Research. From 49-51, he was an Education Consultant for the National Council of Industrial Management Clubs, affiliated with the National YMCA. In this capacity, he traveled throughout the U.S., assisting in the establishment of Industrial Management Clubs for educating supervisors. In 1951, he joined Riegel Textile Corporation as Assistant to the Director of Industrial Relations.
In 1963, Joe was transferred to upstate South Carolina, where he became Director of Industrial Relations at the Southern Executive Offices of the company in Ware Shoals in Greenwood County. He bought a home in Greenville, largely because he and Vauda thought the schools there were better for their son, Warren. He rose through the executive ranks of Riegel to retire as Vice President in 1984. For several years after his retirement, he ran his own management consulting firm, Effective Organizations, Inc., and taught undergraduate courses at the College of Business Administration of the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
Education was very important to Joe, and from the beginning he was determined to give his only child the best education possible. With Joe’s support and encouragement, Warren attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and eventually received his Ph.D from Harvard University.
Joe believed passionately in leaving the world a better place than he found it. He served in many capacities for organizations such as the National Urban League, YMCA conference centers at Lake George, NY and Black Mountain, N.C., and in Greenville for the City Civil Service Commission, Goodwill Industries, and the Greenville Symphony. He was an early and strong advocate for equality of opportunity regardless of race, and was one of the founders of the Urban League in Greenville in 1970. He remained a Trustee Emeritus of what is now known as the Urban League of the Upstate until his death. He was also instrumental in founding, and a longtime Advisory Board member of, the Riegel and Emory Center for Human Resource Research at the College of Business Administration at the University of South Carolina.
Joe was also an intellectual – knowledgeable in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew from his seminary days; a student of etymology, philosophy, the Bible, industrial psychology, Freud, Adam Smith, and Thomas Wolfe; and a gifted public speaker and admired negotiator and writer. A volume of his collected sermons, speeches, and writings will be published in 2008.
Joe and Vauda moved to Ithaca in May 2003 to be near their son, who had become Director of the Paleontological Research Institution and an Adjunct Professor at Cornell University. In addition to his wife and son, Joe is survived by his daughter-in-law, Jennifer Tegan; and granddaughter, Alexandra, all of Ithaca. He is also survived by a nephew, George T. Allmon, Jr. of Columbia, Md.; a niece, Sue Krause of Buckeystown, Md.; and a sister-in-law, Doris Couch of Monroe, Ga.; and several nieces and nephews.