Carole Marie Allen died peacefully April 3, 2014, at Hospice House in Concord, after a fierce and gallant nine-year battle against ovarian cancer.
She was born July 7, 1947, in Philadelphia, to the late Arthur Ford and his wife, Dorothy. She graduated from Malvern High School in 1965 where she studied secretarial science, but soon after pursued a registered nursing career, earning a scholarship to the rigorous Germantown Hospital nursing program, graduating in 1969 at the top of her class. The day she graduated she married Mel Allen, who at the time was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia. After a two-week-long camping trip in the coolness of the Adirondacks, the couple returned to equatorial Colombia, and soon the intense heat spurred them to plan a life where there was snow, and thus they arrived appropriately in Maine during a blizzard in 1970. While she worked as a nurse at various hospitals in Maine, she began exploring her interest in photography, which soon grew into a passion. She studied black and white photography and processing privately for a year with a seasoned professional photographer, and then discovered Maine Photography Workshops, where she studied intensively over several years. She and her husband produced numerous stories and photos for the Maine Sunday Telegram and Yankee magazine during the late 1970s, before they moved to New Hampshire in 1979.
Her photo assignments led her to find black bears in their dens, the potato harvest in northernmost Maine, white water rafting, back country canoe adventures, spending several days with the legendary Ted Williams at his fishing camp, and countless more portraits of New England characters. But when her sons, Daniel, born in 1985, and Joshua, born in 1988, came into her life, she found subjects that allowed her to take photos with the eye of the artist and the heart of a mother. Their childhoods may well be among the most lovingly documented anywhere, but never shot randomly and without purpose. Anyone entering her house in Keene where she lived for many years or her house in Dublin where she lived for the past 16 years would be struck by the emotional impact of so many of these images. She was a familiar figure at youth baseball games where her sons played, getting as close to the action as possible, seemingly impervious to the inherent danger of hard baseballs headed in her direction.
She joined the Monadnock Ledger 15 years ago, and there are few, if any, events and festivals within the paper's reach she did not capture. Her eye was always drawn to the people and moments that tell a story beyond a single frame. In her final days at Hospice House she kept two photos close by: one was a photo of her and her two sons, the other was her award-winning feature photo story on Crotched Mountain's spring pond skimming. Even in the depths of her illness, when she was so weakened by the effects of treatment, she would call her editors asking what she could photograph for the next edition. Every person she met it seemed would be "incredible" or "great," especially the region's farmers with whom she shared a bond as she never tired of documenting their days.
She loved the water. Whether kayaking or swimming in Dublin Lake, or seeking the ocean waves, she was happiest when she could splash - or hike - or simply be outside in nature. Four days before her death, with her son Dan holding her on one side, and her son Josh on the other, they walked slowly outside for an hour.
People who knew her during the years of her battle marveled at her unyielding optimism and her deep belief that somehow she would find a miracle.
Survivors include her mother; her sons, Daniel of Hawaii and Joshua of New Haven, Conn.; a nephew of California; her former husband, Mel Allen, with whom she shared her extraordinary fight to live; and her colleagues and many friends, none more special than Annie Graves.
Fletcher Funeral Home of Keene handled arrangements. Burial was private in Monadnock View Cemetery in Keene on April 6. A possible ceremony of remembrance is being planned for later in spring.
Donations may be made in Mrs. Allen's memory to Hospice House of Concord, 30 Pillsbury St., Concord 03301.