Bill Allen Remembered as Sports Legend

Editor at Large


He was coach and mentor, role model and confidante.
He was a beacon of goodness, a lesson in dignity, a friend for life.

Yet among all things virtuous and upright, Bill Allen was first and foremost a teacher, a molder of young minds, a standard-bearer for excellence.

He devoted his life, a rich and distinguished life of 85 God-fearing years, to strengthening the three most significant pursuits of his heart: family, youth and basketball.

He and his wife of 57 years, Nancy, raised four children of their own while serving as surrogate parents for generations of athletes, students and displaced teen-agers.

For the 34 years he spent as the most recognizable and respected face on the Webster High School campus, Bill Allen was, in many instances, the solitary father figure in untold numbers of lives.

He was basketball coach, athletics director, administrator and the embodiment of hard work, honesty and dedication.

His basketball erudition earned him a place in the halls of fame of the Oklahoma Coaches Association and the National High School Coaches Association.

His gift of compassion earned him a place in the hearts of youngsters and adults throughout West Tulsa.

A native Tulsan, a Central High School graduate and a Navy veteran of World War II, William Graham (Bill) Allen died on July 10 at the age of 85.

He left an unforgettable impression on the sporting landscape of Tulsa, at the high school level and at the collegiate level, as indelible and as enduring as the metallic lettering above the entrance of the all-purpose facility on the Webster campus: Bill Allen Fieldhouse.

“As excellent as he was as a coach, Bill was an even better man,” said Ted Owens, summing up the thoughts of hundreds of current and former coaches.

During his tenure as head basketball coach at the University of Kansas, Owens hired Allen to work summer camps. When Owens was hired as head coach at Oral Roberts University in 1985, he hired Allen as an assistant.

“He was a great teacher,” Owens said. “I had the utmost confidence in Bill. All of his concepts were well thought out and effective.”

In 1969, three years after he won his only state championship at Webster, Allen was offered the head coaching position at .

After much soul-searching and family discussion, Allen declined the proposition.
Alan Axley, a 1962 All-Stater for Allen, recalled the reason for his coach’s decision to remain at Webster.

“He was a family man,” Axley said. “For him to take that job, he was going to have to travel and be away from his family. It would have been a change in lifestyle for him. He loved his family more than anything.”

ORU’s loss was Webster’s gain. Allen remained at the West Tulsa school until his retirement in 1984. His coaching resume includes a record of 362 wins and 195 losses. He coached in the first Faith 7 Bowl, in 1966, when Texas and Oklahoma schoolboys met in Shawnee. He coached in an Oklahoma All-State game and was elected the first president of the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association.

Terrell Lester served as a sports writer for the Tulsa World throughout the coaching career of Bill Allen.

Updated 08-13-2010

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  1. — Charleen Kirksey Reid    Jul 20, 10:10 PM    #
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