Tuxedo teacher killed while on duty in Iraq

| 21 Feb 2012 | 11:01

TUXEDO-Louis Allen sent an e-mail to Denis Petrilak, principal at George F. Baker High School in Tuxedo, Tuesday morning, worrying about whether his students were ready for this month's physics Regents exam. The e-mail contained pictures of a palace where Allen, a first lieutenant in the Army National Guard 101st Cavalry Regiment based in Newburgh, was staying in Iraq as well as scenes of the desert. Allen, a physics teacher at the high school, had been in the war for less a week. "If you had read his e-mail, you wouldn't have any idea how dangerous of a situation it really was," said Tuxedo's Superintendant of Schools Joe Zinetti. "We're all just shocked." Allen, a 1988 graduate of Chester High School, died Tuesday in Iraq. Allen's unit was reportedly ambushed in the middle of the night on Tuesday, June 7. Allen, 34, leaves behind his wife, Barbara, and four children: Trevor, 6; Colin, 5; Sean, 3; and Jeremy, 2. They live in Milford, Pa. Allen's parents were in Maine on vacation when they got the news. Robert and Vivian Allen still live in the Chester house in which Louis and his siblings grew up. Father and son shared a birthday, July 20 He also leaves behind three sisters, Laurene Sandstrom of Chester, Vicky Jackson of Campbell Hall and Jennifer Davis of Slate Hill, as well as a brother, Robert Allen Jr. of the Bronx. "Lou was a wiseguy with a quick smile from the time he was young," said Sandstrom, who works as dog control officer for the Town of Goshen. "He never changed, and that's why we all love him so much." Rose Gill's children went through elementary school and religions instruction with Lou Allen at St. Columba Church, where she was the coordinator of instruction. "He was such an imp, God bless him. You looked at him and you melted. He was so cute. He had a personality that was so lovable." At Tuxedo High School has a small memorial in the entrance of their main doors filled with letters and pictures for Allen. One letter on the memorial read: "Many people knew him as a teacher and even more knew him as a friend." Zinetti offered this anecdote: The girl's high school basketball team was playing in the Final Four in Troy this past season. And when the players looked up in the stands, there were Allen and one of his sons who made the two-hour trip on his day off. "We didn't lose just a teacher we lost a family man," Zinetti said. "On one end of the scale, he was entirely dedicated to teaching and his students. On the other, he was a devoted U.S. soldier. The two ends of the spectrum seem so distant but that's what made Lou Allen such a unique and wonderful individual. He was a true American." Barbara Allen works for Viking Realty in Goshen, which is setting up a scholarship fund for their sons. Laurene Sandstrom asks that people not send flowers. "Flowers would have meant nothing to Louis. But his boys were everything to him." This story was reported by Linda Keay, Eric Harris and Pamela Chergotis. It was written by Chris Mayone.