Obituary of Maria do Socorro Donato Allen
Maria do Socorro Donato Allen, of Tucson, AZ, died at home on September 10, 2023, of Endometrial Cancer. She was 70.
Maria was always confident in her ability to do whatever she set about to do. Sometimes her friends would jokingly say that Maria’s ego was as big as all of the outdoors. Maybe, but those who knew her best, those same friends, would say it was small compared to the biggest part of her, her heart. That heart was full of the joy of living, family, friends, travel, and bird watching. Yes, Maria was sure of her ability to succeed at whatever she put her hand to, but it was her response when a friend was in trouble that truly defined her. She would jump in, “with all fours” as she would say, whenever a friend needed help, and would then proceed to move heaven and earth to help in whatever way she could. In the same way, she was “all in” with her love for her family, and her enthusiasm for travel, especially traveling all over the world to see exotic birds in their natural habitats. These trips were often made with a special group of friends, the Challenged Birders, and Maria was a primary organizer of those trips, making sure everyone on the trip had the best possible experience.
Maria said her life was made of many “lives.” She was born in Sāo Paulo, Brazil, and grew up in Rio de Janeiro. Always precocious and very curious, she read Marx, Freud and others before she was 10. When she was about 16, she and a friend took an aptitude test for IBM computer classes and passed with flying colors! After taking the courses, they met all the requirements to work. And work they did, at 16 or 17, becoming the youngest computer programmers in the country. That job led to her first big life change. She met and fell in love with Gerald Allen (Jerry) and, at 20, she was off to make a life in Washington, D.C., marrying Jerry on July 6, 1973.
Life in the nation's capital was just beginning for Maria—taking classes at George Washington College and working as a programmer on a project for the college—when Jerry took a position working for the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone. Off they went again, on another of Maria’s life’s adventures, this time to begin a long stay in the Republic of Panama. She finished a Business Degree at Florida State University. She got a job as a computer programmer, working for the Canal herself, ultimately as Chief of Computer Operations. Her much-beloved son, Eric Haight Allen, was born in 1980. It was in Panama that she discovered the fascinating world of birds and a love of jungle trips to see them. There were also many friends and adventures, including the passing over of the Canal to Panamanian authorities in 1999.
After retiring from the Canal, Maria and Jerry moved to Tucson, AZ, from which they both continued to travel the world, enjoy new friends, and kept up with friends from all over the globe. They would make yearly summer trips to their place in Sun Valley, ID. A place they both loved, allowing them to escape the summer desert heat. It was in Tucson that Maria got the news of the birth of her granddaughter, Avery, who meant the world to her. Avery lives in Chicago, but they were able to establish a very close relationship.
Maria was predeceased by her husband of 48 years, Gerald Haight Allen. She is survived by her son, Eric Allen, and granddaughter, Avery Allen, of Chicago, IL, and also by her sister, Maria de Fátima Donato, and nephew, Victor Flavio, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as too many close family and friends to list here.
The memorial service will be held at St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Parish in Tucson on October 20, 2023.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. https://www.communityfoodbank.org/get-involved/