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Calvin Allen, pioneer Gainesville doctor, dies at 85
Funeral services scheduled Tuesday at First Baptist Church
Dr. Calvin Allen died Friday at age 85

Calvin Allen, the first anesthesiologist in Gainesville, died at his home Friday night after a long illness.

Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Gainesville.

Allen, 85, first came to Gainesville in 1957.

"I've known him since before he came here," said longtime Gainesville physician Henry Jennings. "He did anesthesia on my father so he could have surgery. The doctor had this delicate operation and wanted to have an anesthesiologist rather than a nurse anesthetist."

A World War II veteran, Allen finished his medical residency at Emory University before moving to town permanently. He worked with nurse anesthetist Primrose Basche and founded the Anesthesia Associates of Gainesville.

He also served as chief of anesthesia at the Hall County Hospital, which is now Northeast Georgia Health System.

"He was a very gentle man and extremely highly trained," Jennings said. "He cared for his patients like nobody's business. It was wonderful to watch his relationship to the patients and with other doctors on the staff."

When Jennings came to Gainesville in 1953, there were 22 doctors; now there are more than 500, he said.

When Allen started as an anesthesiologist, he still used ether on patients.

"They'd actually hold it on the face with their hands," Jennings said with a laugh. "Dr. Allen was a marvelous person in general, and the quality of medicine in Gainesville has been outstanding for generations."

Allen, a member of First Baptist Church, served as a deacon and attended Sunday school classes.

"He had a long history in Gainesville," said the Rev. Bill Coates. "His major contribution at the church was his love for people who needed to learn English."

Allen taught English as a second language and citizenship classes.

"He had a great love for the alien and the strange and had such a heart for them," Coates said. "He's the only man I know at age 80 who decided he would learn Spanish. And he did. He's an incredible human being and one of the great saints of our community."

Allen is survived by his wife, Lydia Nix Allen of Gainesville, a daughter and a son. Memorial Park Funeral Home North-Riverside Chapel is in charge of arrangements.