SMU mourns Pierce M. Allman ’54, beloved alumnus and Dallas leader
SMU is deeply saddened by the loss of beloved alumnus and celebrated Dallas leader Pierce M. Allman ’54, who died on November 25, 2022, at the age of 88. A recipient of SMU’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award, Allman is remembered across Dallas for his years of work in media relations, including being the first reporter to broadcast an on-scene report of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. At SMU, Allman is remembered for his years of spirited dedication and his generous contributions to supporting the University’s students and research.
“Pierce Allman dedicated much of his life to preserving the history and strengthening the future of both SMU and Dallas,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His leadership, generosity and Mustang spirit have left an indelible mark on our campus and the wider North Texas community, and his legacy will endure for years to come through the lives that he touched, the memories he created and the students he impacted during his lifetime on the Hilltop.”
A graduate of SMU’s then-named Broadcast/Film Arts department, Allman was an active participant in campus activities and celebrations during his undergraduate career. Attending SMU through a Dallas Morning News scholarship, Allman was active in programs and organizations as a member of the SMU cheerleading squad and a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity. Allman additionally participated in the University’s Air Force ROTC, the honorary service-centered Blue Key fraternity and the Brotherhood of Cycen Fjodr, the oldest senior society of its kind at SMU. A natural, community-centered leader, Allman served as treasurer for his junior class, vice president of the SMU Council on World Affairs and vice president of Scabbard and Blade, a national military honor society for universities with ROTC programs. The voice of the Mustang Band, Allman received the 1954 “M” Award, the University’s highest recognition awarded to its students, faculty, staff and administrators.
After graduation, Allman served in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command before joining WFAA-TV (Channel 8) as a manager of programming and production, where he ran the Cotton Bowl activities for the Southwest Conference. In 1965, Allman was recruited by then-SMU President Willis Tate to head the University’s alumni affairs office following his historic reporting on the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. This career change led to the eventual launch of a public relations division at TracyLocke advertising agency, where Allman won numerous awards before founding his own marketing firm, Allman & Co., which he led until his passing. He also went on to serve as co-operator of Dallas real estate firm Allie Beth Allman & Associates, which was founded by his wife, Allie Beth Allman.
Contributing to the future growth and success of SMU, the Allmans provided a 2010 lead gift to launch the Dean’s Research Council, which provides competitively awarded seed funding for faculty research within the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. In addition to their support for the Research Council, the Allmans’ support of Dedman College included work in archeology research, the John Goodwin Tower Center for Public Policy and International Affairs and the endowed creation of the Allman Family Lecture within the school’s Interdisciplinary Institute. Also generous with his time, Allman served on the Dedman College Campaign Steering Committee during SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign and on the school’s executive board from 1994 until his death.
“Pierce Allman had a keen and curious intellect, and he was a masterful communicator,” said Thomas DiPiero, Elisabeth Martin Armstrong Dean of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. “His contributions to Dedman College cannot be overstated, and his loss is keenly felt by us all, as is his enduring impact both on our campus and throughout the city of Dallas.”
His dedication to the University and its mission extended far beyond Dedman College, with Allman serving on various SMU boards and committees, including the Meadows Alumni Advisory Council, the SMU Unbridled Centennial Host Committee and the Alumni Board, as well as his serving as the 1994 chair of Reunion Giving. Providing direct support to a multitude of SMU programs, the Allmans donated generously to the SMU Mustang Band, Central University Libraries and the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center.
“Mustangs like Pierce Allman are what strengthen SMU and inspire its students to forge bright futures for themselves and their communities,” said Brad. E. Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs. “Pierce was a force of nature in his support of student success and collaboration, and his work throughout Dallas highlights the power that we have to think big and do good, both as a University and as individuals.”
Beyond SMU, Allman contributed to the greater Dallas community as a member of the Preservation Park Cities Advisory Board, a member emeritus of the Center for BrainHealth Advisory Board, the chair of the Old Red Museum of Dallas History & Culture and the vice-chairman of the S.M. Wright Foundation, among others. Named Dallas’ Father of the Year in 2017, Allman and his wife have been recognized across the city, receiving the 2011 Jubilee History Maker award from the Dallas Historical Society and the 2018 Flora Award from Texas Discovery Gardens.
Pierce Allman is survived by his wife of 59 years, Allie Beth Allman, whom he met while working at WFAA. His legacy is continued in the lives of his daughters, Margaret Cowan and Amy Dean; his sons-in-law, Chris Cowan ’93 and Michael Dean; and his grandchildren, Mac Cowan, Allie Beth Cowan and Cora Dean.
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.