Allen, Martha Sawyer 75, of Minneapolis and Richfield, died Saturday April 28, 2018, after a determined fight against a failing body. She lived her life with enormous gusto and will be greatly missed. For 28 years, from 1976 to 2004, Allen worked for the Minneapolis Tribune and Star Tribune as a reporter, assistant city editor and section editor. She covered religion for 19 years and in 1996 created the newspaper's Faith & Values section, which was named the nation's best religion section the following year. As a religion reporter, she covered a Sundance ceremony at the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and visited sites around the Aegean Sea where the Apostle Paul once walked. Before arriving at the Star Tribune, she was a reporter and copy editor in Mason City, Iowa, and an instructor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where she fought for equal pay for female instructors. Allen nurtured many passionate interests, including travel, books and bird watching. She was a volunteer tour guide at the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota and led two major studies of Minneapolis city government for the League of Women Voters. The backyard of her Minneapolis home was a shady oasis, and her flower arrangements won a wall of blue ribbons. Travel took Allen around the world, including to Russia, New Zealand, Europe, South America and several African countries. She voyaged across the south Atlantic from Cape Horn in Chile to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. She was an exchange student in Uganda in 1968 and kept in touch with her beloved host family, who planted a garden outside Kampala in her honor. Friends remember her humor, profanity, curiosity, fanaticism for the KU Jayhawks and skill as a story-teller along with her passion for good government and good journalism to keep public officials honest. Every Fourth of July, she donned a green patina crown and voluminous green robes to play Miz Liberty at the 50th Street Pageant and delivered a furious assessment of bad politics. She ended with a heartfelt rendition of Emma Lazarus's poem The New Colossus -- "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." When asked how she wanted to be remembered, she wrote, "I was always curious and loved a good story. I found the world a fascinating place, and I loved to travel. I loved to laugh. I hope I was helpful and generous and loyal." Martha was born March 13, 1943, to the late Mary and Ethan Allen of Lawrence, Kansas. She is survived by her sister, Mary Elizabeth Allen, of Lawrence, several cousins in Iowa, Kansas and England, and a vast circle of friends in Minnesota, Africa and elsewhere. Martha and her sister established the Ethan P. Allen Fund for the Study of American Government at the University of Kansas, in honor of their father, a noted political science professor. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Africa Uplifted, P.O. Box 883, Cumberland, Wis., 54829, which supports a variety of needs in Sierra Leone; or OC Ministries, 122 W. Franklin Ave., Suite 400, Minneapolis, Minn., 55404, which supports clinics and schools in Africa, Jamaica and Haiti. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, May 18, at Lake Harriet United Methodist Church, 4901 Chowen Ave. S., Minneapolis. A visitation/social hour will begin at 1pm, and a reception will follow the service.

Published on May 17, 2018


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