James Wayne Erb Allen

July 23, 1939 to June 16, 2018

Beloved husband, father, musician, teacher, engineer, and entrepreneur — died on June 16, 2018 at the age of 78 from complications related to diabetes.

Born in Turtleford, Saskatchewan to James A. and Cecelia Allen, Wayne and his brother Denis grew up in the Canadian heartland, exploring the countryside, building forts, playing hockey and digging ice tunnels on the playground (hiding entire classes from dismayed teachers).

Moving to San Diego in their teens, they attended Hoover High School where Wayne played saxophone for the high school band and local gigs during the early years of rock and roll. Denis, a talented actor who performed for Starlight and other local venues, later became a San Diego police officer and was killed in the line of duty in 1977.

Graduating with a degree in mathematics from San Diego State College, Wayne worked for General Dynamic’s Convair division on the Atlas missile project. The Atlas missile was used for the last four manned Mercury missions that launched the first four American astronauts to orbit the earth. The Atlas booster was unusual in its use of pressurized “balloon” tanks which gave rigidity without extra weight. Once, during a test, a booster exploded in the test bay, leaving the engineers stranded for some time inside a concrete bunker. Explosions notwithstanding, the project went on to be a great success and laid the foundation for the Apollo moon missions to come.

Following his stint as a rocket scientist, Wayne took a faculty position at Grossmont Community College where he taught computer science for 40 years, playing a key role in the founding of the Computer Science and Systems department.  Wayne’s vision and expertise led him to start his own computer retail and consulting business, the first licensed Apple computer dealer in San Diego.

A fan of old cars, Wayne kept his first car, Petey, a 1947 Chevy Fleetmaster convertible that he was restoring at the time of his death. In his heyday, Petey was a true cherry-bomb — candy apple red with gleaming chrome, white cloth top, and red and white Tijuana tuck and roll upholstery. Petey and Wayne caught the eye of young schoolmate Diane, whom he married in 1958. They had four children, Melanie, Christopher, Lorene, and April, who also happily rode along with their dad and Petey to the local A&W and movie drive-ins. Wayne and Diane divorced in 1974.

Wayne was a deeply spiritual man who loved life and was interested in everything. He met Miriam Erb, a psychologist, in a shamanic drumming group in 1982. They shared many common interests, including alternative healing and spiritual practices, and were married in 1988. Wayne wrote and performed the music for their wedding.

An accomplished musician and composer all his life, Wayne’s love of music blossomed in later years when he began developing skills in advanced musical theory.  He particularly loved the piano, for which he composed many original pieces. He loved to sing, among his favorites “Teddy Bear’s Picnic”, “Down by the Bay (where the watermelons grow),” and “(We’ll be Happy) When the Ice-Worms Nest Again.”

Wayne loved to travel and had visited all counties in California, all the U.S. states, and all the provinces in Canada. He loved trains in particular, and as a young boy, made a cross-country train trip with his brother Denis (under the care of a conductor) from Saskatchewan to British Columbia to visit their grandmother.  At one stop, the conductor’s son enticed Wayne to get off the train and walk down the tracks with him, and the train left the station without them.  Their absence was eventually recognized, and the train backed up all the way to the station to retrieve them.  The conductor’s son reportedly had difficulty sitting the next day.

Wayne also loved animals and had a special affinity for them. He was beloved by all the animals who knew him and was a longtime member of the San Diego Zoological Society where he was often seen talking to elephants, hippos, and red river hogs.

Wayne was a beloved and integral part of our family and will be deeply missed.  The family will hold a private ceremony in the future.

Donations in his memory can be made to the American Diabetes Association and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Dear Aunt Miriam, I am so very sorry to hear of Wayne's passing. My heart hurts for you. I have fond memories of seeing you together and it's hard to imagine the feeling of loss this must bring. The write up honoring Wayne's life was well done and it was interesting to hear about his many gifts and activities he was involved in. My sympathy and love extends to you across the miles. May you have strength as you grieve and work through the details a loss like this brings. Much Love to You Always, ~Gwen (Jeff)

Gwen Snader (Jeff) on July 27, 2018