Faye Allen

Faye G. Allen, the schoolteacher mother of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, has died at the age of 90 due to complications with Alzheimer’s disease.

“No one could have been a better and more supportive mother to me and my sister, Jody,” said Paul Allen in a statement. “She had many friends with whom she shared her love of books, sports and pets. She was a shining light for everyone that knew her.”

Faye Allen grew up in Carnegie, Oklahoma, always surrounding herself with books and often asking: “What’s better than a good book?”

In fact, it was a book about steam engines that sparked her son’s fascination with technology and science.  In Seattle, she taught fourth grade at the Ravenna School, and was married to the late Kenneth Allen, the former associate director of the University of Washington library system.

Her love of books to this day is honored at the Seattle Central Library, home to the Faye G. Allen Children’s Center.

In his 2011 memoir, Idea Man, Allen wrote about losing a math textbook after setting it down while playing dodgeball as a kid. He was later falsely accused by the school principal of setting the book on fire, when it was found burned. The principal summoned Allen’s mom, who instantly defended her son. Allen wrote in his book:

She came in with a stern look and declared, “In our family we love books. My son would never burn one.” Case closed. I knew that I could always count on my mother’s support. Each morning she would send me into the world with a paraphrase of the Spartan mothers’ farewell to their sons marching off to war: “Go forth bearing your shield!” I walked out the door a little straighter when I heard that.

Faye Allen was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003, and her battle with the disease was one of the inspirations behind Paul Allen establishing the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Paul Allen earlier this year invested $300 million into the research organization to help investigate the mysteries of the human brain.

More on Faye G. Allen in this obituary, and you can see the comprehensive reading list that she created for her son here.

Gifts in Faye G. Allen’s honor can be sent to the Seattle Public Library Foundation at Foundation.spl.org or the Alzheimer’s Association of Western and Central Washington State Chapter at. Alz.org

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