- Robert grew up on his parent's farm in East Fork Township northeast of Donnellson, Montgomery County, Illinois.
He went to Land's End School in the country until it closed in March of each year. He would then move to his grandmother Harriett Ohmart Allen's home in Donnellson so that he could continue to go to school. His fourth/fifth grade school teacher was Mrs. Emma T. Bangs. He attended the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Donnellson where Howard Black was the teacher.
At the age of sixteen (in 1905), he ran away from home and worked on a farm near Lincoln, Illinois. His father came after him and convinced him to return home. In 1906, he graduated from the Brick House School in Donnellson.
Shortly thereafter, having completed attending the local schools, he went to St. Louis, Missouri, to attend medical school - at one time, living at 3404 Polk Avenue.
In 1910, Robert graduated from St. Louis University Medical School. He then practiced medicine in Donnellson, Illinois, until 1916. During this time, he married his nurse, Sarah Hawkins. He applied for their Marriage License in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, on September 7, 1912. They married five days later in Springfield and then spent their honeymoon in Springfield and went to the St. Nicholas Hotel for dinner. His wife enjoyed telling people that during the meal Robert said "please pass the honey - Honey"
By 1916, Robert's brother, Cullen, was living in Towner, North Dakota. Cullen convinced Robert to move his young family to Towner (the county seat of McHenry County) where they lived until 1924 He continued to be a small-town doctor. He appears a number of times in the "Local and Otherwise" and "Local Happenings" columns of the local paper - the Mouse River Farmers Press:
He then moved his family to Forman, Sargent County, North Dakota (1924 - 1930). While there, he became very interested in public health and served as Health Officer for Sargent County, North Dakota. In the first Quarter of 1930, he was named by the State of North Dakota Health Department the most outstanding health officer. This was reported in the Journal-Lancet, an official medical journal printed in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In Robert's "Report of Sargent County Public Health Efforts", he indicated activities such as inoculations, quarantines, meetings, physical inspections of school children, tourist camp inspections and addresses to P. T. A. and other Civic body meetings.
Forman was the county seat of Sargent County. It was often referred to as "The Hub". The Hankinson, Forman and Bismark branch of the Soo railroad system went through the town. The town site was platted in 1881. While living in Forman, Robert appeared several times in The Sargent County News.
Later, in 1930, Robert ran on the Democratic Ticket for the position of State Treasurer of the State of North Dakota. In the Primary Election, he was unopposed and received 11,180. The two candidates in the Republican Primary received a combined total of 165,494 - Berta E. Baker, 104,997; and Della M. Wardrope, 60,497. He is shown as a certified nominee in the November 3, 1930, edition of The Bismarck Tribune. In the November 4th General Election, Berta received 139,257 votes and Robert received 30, 336 votes. In Sargent County, Robert received 62 votes in Forman to his competition's 157.
After moving his family to Bismarck, North Dakota, from 1930 to 1933, Robert was Director of the Bureau of Preventable Diseases in the State Department of Health. While there, he and his family lived 412 Avenue D. Beginning July 1, 1930, at the Bureau, Robert had responsibility over Local Health Units, Laboratory-Cooperation, and Health Education. Among the several outbreaks of disease investigated by him during this period was the Grafton food poisoning tragedy where twelve persons died from the disease diagnosed as Botulism.
Robert submitted a several reports discussing the activities of the Bureau. Key subjects included were Morbidity of Certain Preventable Diseases, Edidemiology, Educational (24 newspaper articles, 44 reports, 17 addresses, and 10 medical publications), Preventive Medicine, Recommendations for Control of Certain Preventable Diseases and Laboratories.
In a reorganization of the State Department of Health, his position was eliminated as of June 30, 1933. Robert's last report emphasized activities such as compilation of morbidity statistics and reports to the United States Public Health Service, epidemiologic investigations, the encouragement and direction of immunization and vaccination clinics, and educational activities (chiefly the delivery of talks to professional and lay organizations and the writing of medical articles - "The Public Health Program in Relation to the Druggist" - North Dakota Pharmaceutical Association; "Botulism in North Dakota" - Journal of the American Medical Association; "Comparative Medicine" - North Dakota Veterinary Association; "Botulism in North Dakota" - South Dakota Health Officers' Association; and "Prevention of Diphtheria" - Kiwanis Club, Harvey)
From 1933 to 1950 he served in the medical department of the United States Army attaining the rank of Colonel in the medical reserve. In 1934, he and Sarah moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, and the Black Hills of South Dakota. While there, in 1935-36, they built a cabin home near Mount Rushmore. Robert worked with Civilian Conservation Corp in the Black Hills. He was also stationed in Omaha, Nebraska (head of the medical department in the Omaha District of the CCCs), Chicago, Illinois, Japan and Seoul, South Korea. While in Korea, Robert suffered a severe heart attack and returned to the United States arriving in San Francisco, California, on the ship Hope. It took a month to return to the United States. He was met by his wife, Sarah. He then was transferred to Fitzsimons Hospital in Denver, Colorado, to recover.
He next returned to Omaha, Nebraska (5629 Grant Street), and then went to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he received a masters degree in Public Health from Tulane University (1952-1953). At the age of sixty-four, he was the oldest in his class. While maintaining their home in Omaha, Robert and Sarah moved to Dixon, Illinois, where Robert became the public health officer of Lee County, Illinois. He and Sara retired to Omaha about three years later as his heart condition worsened. In Omaha, Robert continued to participate in seminar activities on the subject of preventive medicine.
Bob was a very good writer and story teller. He was intelligent and strong willed with a highly instilled work ethic.
His son and wife honored him by establishing the Dr. Robert W. and Sarah H. Allen Memorial Medical Scholarship Endowment at the University of North Dakota.
Over time, his heart condition became worse. Sarah would find him reading about his condition. He died at the age of sixty-eight.