Bob Allen, 1931-2019
Bob Allen, the former pipe-sergeant of the Grade 1 St. Thomas / McNish Distillery Pipe Band of Ontario, and long-serving president of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, died on August 26, 2019. He was in his eighty-eighth year.
Allen dedicated more than 50 years to piping and drumming, voluntarily working at all levels of the PPBSO’s executive structure and, from 1997 to 2005, and again from 2007-’09, as president of the organization.
Allen was one of the PPBSO’s most respected and productive leaders. Among his accomplishments under his 10-year combined tenure were working with the RSPBA to bring on several PPBSO judges to their panel, the introduction of the Grade 5 pipe band competition category, ushering in consultative band judging (later overturned by membership), the establishment of the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations, and returning the PPBSO to cash-positive status after several years in arrears, mainly through running it in a more business-like fashion, including establishing a central headquarters in Milton, Ontario.
At the conclusion of his presidency, Bob Allen was feted at a gala dinner in Oakville, Ontario, on September 30, 2005, attended by more than 150 guests who were treated to a night of speeches and piping, with professional soloists James MacHattie and Ashleigh Weeden providing tunes between recognition speeches from luminaries in the Ontario piping and drumming scene.
In his characteristic humble manner, Allen himself gave the final speech of the night, crediting everyone else for any success that had come during his leadership tenure. Letters of recognition were read from pipe band associations around the world, including the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, the British Columbia Pipers Association, and the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association.
In 2004 he announced his intention to retire from the thankless role, only to be convinced to stay on for another three years. After leaving in 2007, he would stand for and be elected again as PPBSO president in 2007, following the two-year term of Ron Rollo.
As a piper with the Grade 1 St. Thomas Pipe Band (which later became McNish Distillery through a sponsorship deal) starting in 1960 under Pipe-Major Gordon Tuck, he quickly rose to become pipe-sergeant, participating in many competition wins, including the band’s famous triumph over the visiting and reigning World Champions Edinburgh City Police at the Fergus Highland Games in Ontario in he 1970s. In addition, he played on several albums that the band made in the 1970s.
Allen moved to Florida in the mid-1980s to establish a real estate business, eventually returning to Ontario in the 1990s where he was pipe-major of the St. Thomas band, now in Grade 4. He also served for many years as a judge on the Ontario circuit.
Bob Allen was a major contributor to piping and drumming in Ontario and he will be remembered fondly by all who knew him.
There will be two visitations on August 29 at Erb & Good Funeral Home in Waterloo, Ontario, at 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm, and a memorial service mass is on August 30, 10-11 am at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, also in Waterloo.
On behalf of the piping and drumming world, our condolences go to his surviving family and friends at this sad time.