DuPage County honors Naperville activist
A Naperville activist who was shot and killed last month in Chicago is being remembered as a civic leader, business pioneer, father and friend who had an "unwavering personal commitment to community service."
On Tuesday, DuPage County Board members paid tribute to Ronald Allen during the reading of a proclamation for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
"Many of us knew Ron," county board Chairman Dan Cronin said. "He was devoted to his community. He was devoted to his neighbors, his friends and his work as a civic leader."
Cronin said Allen was someone "who spent each day trying to make his community a better place for all of us."
Allen, 73, was shot to death shortly after 2 a.m. Dec. 2 while driving in his car on the 1300 block of North Laramie Avenue in Chicago's Austin neighborhood, where he had been visiting friends and playing cards.
"Ron was taken from us, tragically, far too soon," Cronin said. "But his legacy as a person determined to build bridges in his community lives on."
Allen was active in the DuPage County NAACP and served as a Democratic precinct committeeman. He also was deeply involved in a police-community relations improvement initiative called Unity Partnership.
DuPage's MLK Day proclamation says the county celebrates those who embody Dr. King's legacy, including Allen.
Audience members in the county board room stood and applauded when Cronin gave the proclamation to Allen's wife of more than 50 years, Carol Allen. Ronald Allen's son, daughter and mother also were present.
"If Ron were here, he would be very, very honored, but he would also be very humbled," Carol Allen said. "Any award or recognition that carries the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. carries with it much responsibility. And we're very proud that you felt that Ron met those responsibilities."
Meanwhile, Regina Brent, president of Unity Partnership, said efforts to improve police relations with minority communities will continue.
"In the beginning of the year, we came together," she said. "We decided we wanted a better community. We wanted peace."
"Ron Allen was about making sure that he stepped in a room with grace and dignity and pride to open doors for the accomplishments that we need to have here in DuPage," she said.