Shirley Houghton Allen
April 17, 1923 ~ December 27, 2016
Shirley Houghton Allen passed away peacefully in Carmel Valley on December 27th, 2016, shortly after having her family visiting for Christmas.
Born in Porterville, California, on April 17, 1923, to Earle and Louise Houghton, Shirley’s early years were spent in Strathmore, CA. (where her family owned a thriving olive orchard) and in Porterville. When she was a teenager her family moved to Lindsay where she graduated from high school. Shirley had wonderful art teachers in high school who encouraged her artistic talents and thus began Shirley’s love of art.
In 1943 Shirley graduated from Stanford University, in three years, with a degree in Art. After college she moved south to attend the renowned Art Center College of Design in Pasadena for a year. After working in a Los Angeles department store for six months doing drawings and layout, Shirley moved back to San Francisco where she worked at the Emporium in a similar position. She loved having a job using her creative talents.
On May 29, 1948, Shirley married David M. Allen. In 1950 she became a full-time mother, raising three children and she continued her art education. Shirley turned an old tool shed in the backyard into an art studio. She was deeply committed to her art.
In 1975, at her urging, Shirley and Dave moved to their beautiful home on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. This was the beginning of a more spiritual phase; Shirley developed an interest in metaphysical development and personal growth. To this end, she became involved with the Fourth Center, participated in retreats with Brugh Joy, and she was an active member of the Tahoe Truckee Center for Spiritual Living.
In the early ‘90s Shirley and Dave began spending their winters in Tucson and their summers at Lake Tahoe. After Dave died in 2008, Shirley moved back to California full-time, spending winters in Carmel Valley and summers at Tahoe.
Shirley was one of a kind, who always supported ecological ideals. She was a lifelong Sierra Club activist. In the 1960’s she sent photos to her senator complaining about the devastating effects clear cutting had on the Southern Sierra Mountains. She was a devoted fan of the wilderness. Her love of the mountains came from spending time as a child camping with her parents on their property at Camp Nelson in the Sierras. She became an avid hiker and camper, and organized backpacking trips for family and friends every summer for many years.
Shirley and Dave loved traveling in Europe. During these trips Shirley began sending out water color post cards that she painted of the places they visited. She especially enjoyed traveling as crew on their good friend, Kermit Wall’s, sailboat in the Mediterranean and South Pacific.
She was energetic and social, and was often “the life of the party,” with a hearty laugh and positive outlook. She studied and spoke French, attended operas and symphonies, was an avid backgammon player and a faithful Giants fan. She was also an excellent cook, who created sumptuous meals.
Shirley always followed her heart and let it be her guide through an incredible life. We will miss our Mom – her wisdom and insights, her independence and her humor, her resilience and her candor. A life well lived!
Shirley is survived by her three children; Vinit Allen (Rajyo), Holly Allen, and Lucy Sullivan (Sam); two grandchildren, Dylan Sullivan and Venicia Allen Johnson (Matt); and two great-grandchildren, Caian and Elise Johnson.
A Celebration of her Life will be held at 10:00 AM on July 22, 2017, at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach, CA. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sierra Club or the Salvation Army.