Faye Gardner Allen, Mother Of Blazers Owner Paul Allen, Dies At 90

Blazers owner Paul Allen, his mother Faye, and his sister Jody at the Memorial Coliseum in 1988. Image credit: PaulAllen.com.

Vulcan Inc. has announced in a press release that Faye Gardner Allen, the mother of Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, died on Saturday after battling Alzheimer's for nearly a decade. She was 90.

"No one could have been a better and more supportive mother to me and my sister, Jody," Paul Allen said. "She had many friends with whom she shared her love of books, sports and pets.

"She was a shining light for everyone that knew her."

Paul Allen wrote at length about his relationship with Faye, who was an elementary school teacher, in his 2011 autobiography, Idea Man. In the book, Allen revealed that Faye had struggled with "an Alzheimer's-life condition" and "dementia" since at least 2003. Less than a year after Faye began regularly exhibiting symptoms, including memory loss, Allen wrote that her turn of health made him "sick at heart." Within months, he had founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science. He also established the Faye G. Allen Center for the Visual Arts at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.

Idea Man leaves no doubt that mother and son were extremely close. Allen noted that Faye was voted "All-Around Girl" in the 1940 Anadarko High School yearbook and that she enjoyed hosting a book club because his father was too anti-social to take her to parties.

"After I was born, in 1953, my mother went back to teaching fourth grade at Ravenna School in north Seattle," Allen wrote. "Curious and friendly, with an easy laugh, Faye Allen was the kind of teacher whose former students stopped her in the street ten years later for a hug. She read aloud with perfect diction, pausing dramatically at points of maximum suspense to leave the children panting for the next day's installment. I'd feel the same way at bedtime, when I'd beg for more chapters of The Swiss Family Robinson."

Allen credited his mother with introducing him to a book that sparked his interest in engineering and wrote proudly of her massive home library.

"My mother's mountains of literature were stacked two volumes deep on surplus university bookshelves and spilled onto the floor alongside piles of the New Yorker... My mother read everything from the classic to the latest novels: Bellow and Balzac, Jane Austen and Chinua Achebe, Nadine Gordimer and Lin Yu-t'ang. That basement jumble was the exception to her otherwise thorough housekeeping. She kept promising to straighten it up but couldn't bear to throw away so much as a National Geographic."

Here's an amazing detail from the press release.

She was an avid sports fan, particularly of her son's Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, as well as University of Washington Husky football. (In Portland, a basketball player once fell on her during a game, breaking her wrist. She wouldn't leave, though, until the game was over.)

Allen's father, Kenneth, passed away in 1983. Allen wears a turquoise ring to remember him.

Faye Gardner Allen is survived by Paul and his sister, Jody, who serves as president of Vulcan, Inc, as well as three grandchildren.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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