Dedication: Former county clerk, parents to be honored at Sept. event

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By Tom Kirvan

Legal News

He has been labeled as the "gold standard" in terms of public servants.

It is a rare form of public flattery for a county clerk, an elected official who normally toils in obscurity, far from the glow of the political spotlight.

But that, by all accounts, was the legacy of Lynn Allen Jr., Oakland County clerk for 32 years and the third member of his family to serve in the leadership role. His work as clerk, as well as that of his father and mother who preceded him in the Oakland County office, will be honored Thursday, Sept. 22, when the Allen Family Conference Room is dedicated. The ceremony, which also will include an open house for the new Oakland County Elections Division Offices, will take place at 4 p.m. in the West Wing of the County Courthouse, 1200 N. Telegraph Rd.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and County Clerk Bill Bullard Jr. are scheduled to be on hand for the ribbon-cutting, which will serve as a fitting tribute to the Allen family's 58 years of service in the clerkship role.

"He (Lynn Allen Jr.) was one of the most personable and approachable public officials around," said Bullard, a former state legislator who served as chair of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners before being appointed clerk earlier this year. "He took his role as a public servant very seriously and was viewed with the utmost respect. He was an innovator and in many respects was ahead of his time in terms of embracing the benefits of technology."

A veteran of World War II, Allen graduated from Northern Illinois College of Optometry in 1950 and was elected Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds in 1968.

"Lynn was all about service above self," said Gordon Snavely, an attorney in Bloomfield Hills and a longtime friend of Allen's. "The goal of his administration was to provide everyone, and I mean everyone, with courteous, competent, and respectful service, no matter what their walk of life or political affiliation."

According to published reports, Oakland was the first county in the U.S. to completely computerize its court files in 1974, a project that Allen spearheaded.

"He had a big heart and a helping hand for everyone to go along with his wonderful sense of humor," Snavely said of Allen. "Treating citizens the way you would like to be treated is just common decency and makes for great public policy. Civility costs nothing, and yet, it can buy everything.

"As a measure of the respect Lynn garnered, the Oakland County Democratic Party, following his death, honored his memory with an award recognizing his outstanding government service to the county--and, please remember, Lynn was a Republican," Snavely noted.

Even on his deathbed, as he was about to succumb to a battle with pancreatic cancer, Allen had service on his mind, according to Snavely.

"My son (Ted) passed the bar and Lynn agreed to swear him in," Snavely said. "The swearing in ceremony took place in Lynn's hospital room and he administered the oath even in this very weakened condition of his. He was a person who was truly loved by everyone."

Published: Wed, Aug 17, 2011

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