June 17, 2008

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

VSU Remembers one of its Oldest Local Alumni

VALDOSTA - Nan Pope Allen, '30, of Valdosta, Ga., died May 20, at the age of 99. Allen, known as “Nannie” in her younger years, had been featured in a 2006 Valdosta Daily Times article for being the oldest living local alumni of what was then Georgia State Women’s College - an all-female institution of three buildings and a chaperone policy for when students “went to church or went to town.”

A 1930 edition of the college’s Pinecone yearbook lists her degree in education as well as her participation in the Valdosta Club, Phi Kappa Athletic Association, Sororian Literary Society, and the Presidents’ Club. Allen also served at the International Relations Club President from 1929 to 1930.

“While other girls are tooting their own horns and telling what they can do, Nan is getting things done,” the yearbook stated about Allen. “She overcomes all difficulties in a quiet manner - relieving many situations by her characteristic dry wit. With her major interest in history, she made for an excellent president for the International Relations Club.”

Allen married Norman Allen after graduation from Georgia State Women’s College and accepted a teaching position in Hahira. One year later, she became the only teacher at the school in Echols County. Her sister, Lucille Pope Sessions, joined her as the school’s second instructor. Allen was later named principal of the school, earning the hefty sum of $125 per month. Such achievements were uncommon for women during the era, and before she died, Allen spoke of her elation that women have climbed their way to social and professional equality.

Independence and resourcefulness continued to define Allen’s life. Her husband, Norman, died in 1939, leaving Nan to raise their 4-year-old son during a time of global unrest. In 1949, she returned to Valdosta where she served as principal of W.G. Nunn until her retirement in 1971.

Commenting on the growth at VSU during the past 76 years, Allen told the Valdosta Daily Times, “It has been amazing. I wouldn’t know where to start, so much of it has changed. There is no comparison.”

For the 2006 Valdosta Daily Times article featuring Nan Poe Allen, go to: www.valdostadailytimes.com/local/local_story_247231912.html

Do you have a memory to share with us about Nan Pope Allen or another VSU alumni from VSU's early years?
If so, send it to Publications Editor, Kate Heine, at kaheine@valdosta.edu.

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