Gladys Levis Allen
(1921 - 1996)
Everyone who knew Gladys Levis Allen admired and loved her because her life seemed a perfect work of
art. Her devotion to those closest to her, her own family, filled their lives with the richness of love and
sharing. Indeed, their shared endeavors and experiences and achievements seemed to have an almost radiant
intensity; and thus in a way not achieved by most families, theirs served as a very model for the meaning of
family. Moreover, Gladys's interest in and concern for others was such that a great many of the people
who knew her felt that they had been included in a special kind of extended family. And between the
primary strands of the web of friends and fans of Gladys were spun a great many further friendships.
Gladys's passion for the natural world was deep. Among the ways it was expressed at a personal level were
ranching, farming, gardening, traveling and scientific and medical studies. Added to love of nature, her
sense of history and prehistory, literature, and art led her through many adventures in six continents,
and was the wellspring of an original collection of writings and paintings from the West at the
time of the American expansion. The same joy of living and exhuberant, generous, unfailing love of
people that lead to her innumerable warm personal friendships gave rise to imaginative philanthropies to
improve life in her community and country and to preserve the natural world for future generations.
Examples were the transformation of a tract of prairie on the family ranch in the Dakotas into Cross
Ranch State Park and the establishment of a scenic easement along the Mississippi Bluffs near her
much-loved home town of Alton. As an alumna of Washington University, she served on its Board
of Trustees for many years. She and her family made many other valued contributions of both service and
finance to the school.
This web page provides an opportunity for those who were close to Gladys to help build an interactive
biography. Materials such as family photographs, pages from student yearbooks, photographs of art
from Gladys's collection, and essays of remembrance by friends are being gathered and digitized.
Appropriate key words will be written in hypertext to open up a branching set of narratives. Contributions
to this biography may be transmitted by regular mail, email or ftp to the Gladys Levis Allen Laboratory of
Sensory Plant Biology (
address in laboratory portion
of web page) or to Gladys's daughters.
text of a tribute to Gladys presented at her Memorial Service by
by Dr. William
Danforth, Chancellor of Washington University during most of Gladys's years on its Board of Trustees
and present Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
in the Oct 10, 1996
Washington University Record.
of the Gladys Levis Allen Laboratory of Plant Sensory
Physiology as reported in a news story by Tony Fitzpatrick from the Record.
Memories from Alton friends, transmitted by
A remembrance from Dan Anderson
formation of the Great Rivers Land Preservation
Association. Materials are being prepared by Margaret Morrissey,
secretary of the Association.
A Collage by Gladys Levis Pilz
Gladys contributes historical art and literature to the
Saint Louis Mercantile Library.
Text and photographs to be contributed by Director and Bibliographer John
Recollections of Gladys by close friend Dr. Betty Ben Geren Uzman
Pages from Gladys's Washington University Yearbooks
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