Beverly J. Allen, 72, of Philadelphia, a longtime Democratic committee person who was the head disciplinarian at Benjamin Franklin High School and worked as the School/Civic Liaison for the school’s Navy Junior ROTC program, died Thursday, Jan. 9, at Pennsylvania Hospital of a bacterial infection.
Ms. Allen was the second of five children of the late Zebedee and Synda Allen. She graduated from Simon Gratz High School.
Her early jobs were at Bee’s Delicatessen and Whitman Chocolate. She later joined Technitrol Inc., an electronics firm in Chalfont, Pa., where she was an engineering assistant, her son Devon Allen said.
In the 1970s, she joined the Black Panther Party, he added. She also became active in city politics, working first in the 17th Ward of the Democratic Party before moving to the 37th Ward, Seventh Division, where she served as a committee person for 30 years.
Along the way, she met Ronnie Smith, who became her life partner. The two loved to travel and enjoyed dancing. They also worked hard to help keep their North Philadelphia block neat. Mr. Smith, who died in 2018, was the block captain and Ms. Allen joined with neighbors to sweep and clean the block.
After Technitrol announced layoffs, Ms. Allen joined the Philadelphia School District in 1980 as a school bus monitor. Eventually, she obtained certification as a special-education instructional aide, and worked at the Henry H. Houston, Aloysius H. Fitzpatrick, and LaBrum Schools.
Although her early plans were to be an engineer, Devon Allen said his mother loved working with children, especially children with special needs.
Her dedication to children and ability to help them did not go unnoticed.
John T. Chapman, then principal at Benjamin Franklin High School, recruited Ms. Allen to work as the lead disciplinarian. She was also the school-based leader for the Navy Junior ROTC there.
“She was tough as nails,” Chapman said in a telephone interview. "I didn’t have to worry about sending someone with her. If the kids saw her coming, they would run away before they would have to confront her.
"But she treated them like they were hers," he added.
Ms. Allen was far more than a disciplinarian, her son said. For those students who couldn’t afford it, she paid their fees for them to attend the prom. “She loved those kids,” he said.
In addition to Devon, Ms. Allen is survived by two other sons, Darrell and Terrance; two daughters, Schenelle and Tangala; three brothers; one sister; 12 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
A viewing will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 17, followed by a funeral at 11 a.m. at Triumph Baptist Church, 1648 W. Hunting Park Ave., Philadelphia, 19140.