Letters to the Editor

Ralph Allen, a legacy

We trust some/many of you are familiar with Ralph Allen and his outstanding contribution to children during his eight years as the principal at Lakeridge Elementary. Some of you may not be aware that his wife, Leslie, passed away suddenly at age 64 from complications of surgery. We — Anne, Brook and Robert — attended a ceremony at the Pickering Barn with several hundred people who they knew from Bellevue, Issaquah, Mercer Island, and many of their neighbors, families, principals, co-workers, parents and students.

We never had the opportunity to meet Leslie. However, her spirit conveyed by friends, neighbors, co-workers, children and grandchildren, was one of an incredible person who had great strength and provided unconditional love to all of those around her. Her friends and family spoke of her directness, candor and clarity, traits we hold in very high regard. We now understand some of the “Zen Spirit” that Mr. Allen brought to eight years of being a principal.

From our own perspective, he was there the day our son, Brook, started kindergarten at Lakeridge. After a year with Mrs. Berkshire, they counseled us, because of Brook’s young age and some reading challenges, to repeat kindergarten. Ralph Allen was careful and very responsive to point out our options. We are forever grateful for his counsel, and that we accepted that option. From there, with his steady hand and Debbie Urman of Special Ed, his teachers Kussak, Franklin, Tran, Perez and Torres, and the whole community of counselors, playground supervisors, parents and other families, made for a truly supportive community. Mr. Allen brought a gentle, kind, yet firm spirit to all activities surrounding the elementary school students. He was there for phone call responses, and at times when a father and a principal needed to talk about options, he was there with the “more direct two males approach.” Our son learned that if he did well for a period of time, he could earn the right to go see the principal, and not be sent there for something he didn’t do, or did incorrectly, but as a reward. Mr. Allen had several students who would come and see him, and upon occasion, would take walks after school for a treat at Starbucks. We are very sure this spirit and involvement was conveyed to all who came in contact with him.

We firmly believe Mr. Allen’s great skills as a principal, educator and mentor were empowered by his partnership with Leslie and his family. We would ask you to join us in honoring him and his family by re-committing to donations made for the great support units that support our kids — educational programs, special education, athletics, extra-curricular activities, and just being part of a village that cares. Those are Mercer Island School Foundation, Mercer Island Youth Services, the Boys & Girls Club, and other religious/institutional nonprofits on the Island that support our youth. In this way, I trust we can all honor Leslie Allen and the many gifts that she and Ralph have provided to our community.

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