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Bob Allen, beloved newspaperman, former Wake Weekly owner, dies at 91

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WAKE FOREST ­— The newsroom is silent.

Bob Allen, longtime owner and publisher of The Wake Weekly, died Thursday around 2 p.m. at his home surrounded by family members, his family announced. He was 91.

Bob was born in Davenport, Florida, on Aug. 16, 1929, as the third child of William S. and Evelyn Allen. When his dad died in 1937, the family moved to New Jersey.

His brother, Bill, bought The Wake Weekly in an attempt to build up the paper. Bill convinced Bob to come down in 1952.

Around four months later, Bill and his wife, Mabel, headed on to the next adventure, and Bob began the process of purchasing the paper from his brother. Bob and his wife, Peggy, owned and published the paper for nearly 50 years. Their son, Todd, purchased it in 2009. The paper was sold to The Wilson Times Co. in 2019.

Bob and Peggy became the first couple to be named to the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006. They are the only couple to be named to the hall of fame together. The Wake Forest Community Council also named a lifetime achievement award after Peggy.

Bob is well known to The Wake Weekly readers for his weekly column, “Roving Around,” where he discussed life in Wake Forest. The series ran almost every week for almost seven decades.

Bob wrote a final Roving Around column, which was published in Thursday's edition.

Bob met Peggy in 1953 when she started bringing the church’s weekly news to the newspaper’s office, which was located where The Forks Cafeteria stands now, he said. Every week, he would look forward to talking to her.

When he found out Peggy would be going to Fort Caswell for the N.C. Baptist Assembly for two weeks, Bob marked the date on his calendar and decided to ask her out when she returned.

Bob wrote in a Roving Around column that the phone call was the best he ever made.

Peggy accepted, and they attended “The Glenn Miller Story” at Cameron Village. That started a 52-year relationship, during which they raised four boys — Bobby, Greg, Jimmy and Todd — while working full-time at the newspaper. Bobby died of a heart attack in 2014.

Peggy preceded Bob in death in 2005.

“Working together was ‘pure joy,’” Bob said in an interview last week. “She had such talent. Meeting her was the best thing I ever did.”

Bob and Peggy worked hard at The Wake Weekly, and they loved to watch it get better as they learned more, he said. He also enjoyed watching the Wake Forest community develop from a small town to what it is today, Bob said.

Bob worked as a photographer and handled advertising, design and production while Peggy served as a journalist and handled the accounting, classifieds and subscriptions.

He loved photography and being around other photographers. He went to the Grandfather Mountain Camera Clinic each summer and wanted to bring that kind of support, camaraderie and continued learning to Wake Forest. That’s why Bob started a photography club here, he said. The Wake Forest Camera Club named an annual award after Bob in 2018.

His love of others also led Bob to playing Uncle Sam for at least a decade during the town’s Fourth of July celebration. It was always worth dressing up to see the kids enjoy the festivities, Bob said.

Bob’s love of community was a constant theme of his columns along with his love for his prized 1949 Ford convertible, which he brought down from New Jersey when he moved in 1952.

When he was around 19 years old, Bob saw the car at Brown Brothers in Glassboro, New Jersey. He needed a co-signer and his mother refused.

She didn’t want him to get a car that had “a rag” over his head instead of a hardtop, Bob told his friends. He resigned himself to never being able to purchase it. Then, Bob received a phone call at work — the first he’d ever received.

The Brown Brothers had discussed it, and decided to co-sign for Bob since he was an upstanding young man.

Bob wanted people to remember him as an honest, hardworking and upstanding man, he said last week. He hoped that his legacy would inspire others to work hard too.