Off the Record

Pierce Allman Obituary

November 30, 2022

January 5, 1934 -November 25, 2022

Pierce Morriss Allman, faithful husband, father, granddaddy, entrepreneur, community leader, preservationist and philanthropist, died peacefully November 25th with his beloved family at his side. Pierce achieved many accomplishments and accolades, but he found his greatest joy in his love of Christ. His deepest devotion was to his wife Allie Beth, daughters Margaret and Amy, and their families. His widest smile could be seen in celebrating his grandchildren.

Pierce was born on January 5, 1934, in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Robert Moss Allman and Margaret Deavours Allman. His father’s corporate job took the family to various parts of the country in Pierce’s early years, but the family eventually settled in the Park Cities. As a youth, Pierce’s work and dedication with the Boys Scouts of America catapulted him to the country’s top scouting spot, earning 104 of the 105 merit badges available at the time and becoming the youngest Eagle Scout in the country. As a teenager, he started a paper route for The Dallas Morning News, a job he maintained throughout his college years.

Pierce graduated from Highland Park High School in 1950, and in 2012, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumni. Pierce supported the Highland Park Independent School District by chairing the Leadership Council, serving on the District’s Strategic Planning Committee, and co-chairing the Save Our School and Community Committee to keep the school district independent. In 1989, Pierce was awarded a special Blanket Award from Highland Park High School. He co-founded and served as president of La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, an event benefiting the Park Cities and the Highland Park Independent School District. Pierce also served as chairman of the Celebration of Highland Park’s Centennial Anniversary in 2014.

Thanks to a scholarship from The Dallas Morning News and money from several other jobs, Pierce enrolled at Southern Methodist University where he majored in Radio and Television Broadcast. He was head cheerleader, class treasurer, and starred in numerous SMU theatrical plays and musicals. He was a Rotunda Favorite and recipient of the University’s “M” award.

After graduating from SMU in 1954, Pierce joined the U.S. Air Force, serving in the Strategic Air Command in Austin, Texas, from 1955-1957. He returned to Dallas and was hired as program director of WFAA radio, where among many responsibilities, he ran the Cotton Bowl activities for the Southwest Conference. It was at WFAA where he met Allie Beth McMurtry, a recent graduate of Texas Christian University and the love of his life. He and Allie Beth were married on October 5, 1963, in her hometown of Graham, Texas.

On November 22, 1963, moments after witnessing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dealey Plaza, Pierce rushed into the Texas School Book Depository to call WFAA. He asked a man exiting the building where a payphone was, and the unknown man quickly directed Pierce to the phone; that man was later identified as Lee Harvey Oswald. Pierce phoned in the first live news report from the Texas School Book Depository. Over the course of the next several days, Pierce became part of history – the start of the 24/7 news cycle. Pierce’s live report and eyewitness account have been used by countless news organizations around the world for the past 59 years. Pierce was instrumental in the founding of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and serves as the voice of the audio tour of the museum.

In 1964, Pierce became Director of Alumni Affairs at SMU. He established the university’s first alumni directory, steered the fundraising efforts and supervised the building of the R.L. Thornton Alumni Building, wrote lyrics to a new Mustang fight song, and served as “the voice of the Mustang Band” for which he later planned and executed a successful 50th anniversary celebration.

Over the years, Pierce served his beloved SMU, establishing what would become the Allman Lecture Series, featuring Nobel Laureates from physics to literature. A member of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Executive Board since 1994, Pierce provided a lead gift in 2010 to launch the Dean’s Research Council. He served on the Dedman College Campaign Steering Committee’s SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, was Chairman of the Dedman College Executive Board and Chairman for the Committee on Educational Events. In 2018, Pierce was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award from SMU.

After working at WFAA and SMU, Pierce established a public relations division for Tracy Locke, where he won a Clio Award and numerous honors for his work. In 1972, he established his own public relations company, Allman & Company, representing local, state and national clients, including the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas, and the Dallas Bar Association. He was instrumental in the Dallas Bar acquiring the Belo Mansion, where the Bar remains headquartered today. In 1985, Pierce and Allie Beth founded Allie Beth Allman Real Estate, today known as Allie Beth Allman and Associates, where since its inception, he served as its Director of Marketing.

Throughout his life, Pierce was a marketing and branding visionary who embraced technology in its earliest forms, such as computerizing the database of SMU alumni for better outreach; instituting the use of color in newspaper advertising to distinguish Allie Beth Allman & Associates; crafting marketing tag lines such as “Some firms follow the Market, We Make the Market”; and creating The Allmanac, a real estate newsletter curated from numerous sources to provide an overview of the real estate market.

Gregarious, with his signature smile and firm handshake, strangers became Pierce’s friends, and friends became family. He worked tirelessly to help institutions and individuals of all backgrounds reach their greatest potential. One of Pierce’s biggest passions was the S.M. Wright Foundation of Dallas. He co-founded and served on the board of the non-profit organization, which is dedicated to helping children and families improve various aspects of their lives. The S.M. Wright Foundation programs include child daycare, children and youth after school care, emergency assistance, food programs, youth development programs, human services, and events like Christmas in the Park at Fair Park. Last year, the S. M. Wright Foundation touched over 43,000 Dallas residents with needed assistance.

Through a lifetime of generously giving of himself and his resources, Pierce was recognized by many civic, city, educational and business communities. He was past chair of the Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy; co-founder and past president of both the Park Cities Historical Society and Friends of the Highland Park Library; served on the board of the Old Red Museum; committee chair of the SMU Alumni Association; member of the Administrative Board at Highland Park United Methodist Church; advisory board member of the Baylor Medical System Foundation and Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas; and served with Allie Beth as chair of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy Celebration of Reading. He was recognized as a Jubilee History Maker by the Dallas Historical Society and was a recipient of the Preservation Award from the Park Cities Historical Society. In 2017, Pierce was awarded Dallas Father of the Year, and in 2018, he and his wife Allie Beth were honored with the Flora Award from the Texas Discovery Gardens.

Pierce was a voracious reader of newspapers, magazines and books. A lifelong student of history and aficionado of the written and spoken word, Pierce enjoyed literature, biographies and works of fiction, particularly Western novels. Pierce crafted elaborate fairy tales for his young daughters, and later his grandchildren, as they sat on his lap.

Pierce was preceded in death by his parents Robert and Margaret, and by his brother, Dr. Robert M. Allman, Jr. Pierce is survived by his wife of fifty-nine years, Allie Beth; daughter Margaret Allman Cowan and her husband Chris; daughter Amy Allman Dean and her husband Michael; grandchildren, Allie Beth Cowan, Robert McMurtry Cowan and Cora Elizabeth Dean; and Pierce’s sister, Jane Allman Wetzel.

Memorial services will be held on Tuesday, December 6th, 2:00 pm at the Highland Park United Methodist Church with a reception following at the church. In honor of Pierce, donations may be made to the S.M. Wright Foundation, Highland Park United Methodist Church, or the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas.

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