by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator
Today’s post will feature Dr. Frances Ann Allen – another fabulouswomenofHVcounty.
Dr. Frances Allen had a long and productive career as a doctor, but she started as a teacher. Born on 21 June 1915 in Doniphan, Missouri, her parents were Charles F. and Hope (Harmon) Allen. Frances spent her growing up years in Doniphan and graduated valedictorian from Donphan High School. In 1937, she graduated from Southwest Missouri State Teachers College and got a job teaching history and physical education at Normandy High School, St. Louis, Missouri.
Even as she taught high school students, Frances was not done with pursuing her own education. She entered the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1939 and graduated in 1943. Following graduation she interned at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City.
She came to Newton, Kansas following her internship and worked at a general practitioner at Bethel Clinic. Some of the motivation to come to Harvey County was to stay close to her parents and brother who had moved to Newton. She practiced in Newton, delivering babies of the baby boom generation for nine years. In 1959, she was named Newton’s Woman of the Year for her work in at Bethel Clinic and in the community.
Still seeking more education, she went back to KU Medical School. While at KU, she participated in several research projects and published research related to “radioactive isotope of red blood cell survival time in liver disease.” She also studied extensively with Dr. E. Grey Dimond a renowned cardiologist. This training she would put to good use in Newton, Ks.
She returned to Newton and was the chair of the Medical Department of Bethel Deaconess Hospital, Newton, Ks. She continued her research ” conducting clinical trials for L-DOPA, a new medication for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.” Because of this research she became a leader in the treatment of the disease.
One accomplishment that had direct effect on the people of Harvey County was access to defibrillators for ambulance personnel. Due to her efforts, Newton was only the second city in the U.S. to have defibrillators for the ambulance.
Dr. Allen retired in 1978 at the age of 62. With increasing deafness, she recognized she could not longer practice medicine well.
Dr. Allen’s next focus was on art, specifically painting, and joined the Newton Art Association.
She was instrumental in obtaining a building for the Newton Art Association to meet at rent free – the old carriage factory on east 6th. Dr. Allen became a tireless fund raiser for the newly created Carriage Factory Art Gallery. Due to her efforts, along with others in the community, the building underwent significant renovations in 1993, taking the shape of the art gallery we enjoy today.
On October 26, 2014, a reception for Dr. Frances Allen was held at the Carriage Factory Art Gallery, Newton, Ks. Several of Dr. Allen’s paintings were also exhibited.
Throughout her life, she traveled extensively holding to the idea that travel makes a person a better world citizen.
Dr. Frances Ann Allen died on February 28, 2016 at the age of 100 – a life well lived.
- Wichita Eagle: 6 March 2016, “Dr Francis Allen Obituary.”
- Press Release from the Arts Council, Wichita, Ks. October 22, 2014 at wichitaarts.com-gallery-founder-dr-frances-allen-honored-october-26-reception