YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Dr. Bennie Wayne Allison, MD, 70 of Youngstown, transitioned from his earthly labor to his eternal reward on Thursday, March 16, 2023, with his loving wife, daughters and family surrounding him.
“Larger than life” is the most used phrase when the name Dr. Bennie Wayne Allison is spoken. Bennie Allison touched so many lives through his charm, athleticism, intellect and medical treatment. Everything Dr. Allison did was big. His medical career, athletic accomplishments, friendships and commitment to family. His music collection was big and even his never-ending nicknames: Doc, Dr. A, Black, Oscar Proud, Papa Bear, Daddy, Daddy Allison, BA, Bennie Wayne and Bennie Black. Bennie did life big!
Dr. Bennie Allison was an ATHLETE. An All-star, All-state of Ohio, All-Northeast Ohio, All-Diocese and All-Steel Valley in every sport. He ran track, played football, baseball and basketball. The debate for where he was best continues today!
Dr. Allison learned to play football at McGuffey Center but in his first season, the team went 0-10. We are sure this losing season taught perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity as he went on to play for East High School in the eighth grade. He transferred to Ursuline where he spent the remainder of his football career; starting as a sophomore at cornerback and then wide receiver and wing-back as a junior and senior. Folks still remember Dr. Allison making the game-winning catch against Cardinal Mooney during the first televised high school football game in the Mahoning Valley and surrounding areas. As a result of his stellar performance, Dr. Allison was recruited to play football by coaches Woody Hayes (The Ohio State University), Joe Paterno (Penn State University), Ara Parseghian (University of Notre Dame), and Bo Schembelcher (The School Who Shall Not Be Mentioned – University of Michigan). Impressive, but apparently not his best sport.
Now here is where the debate gets interesting, because Dr. Bennie Allison, the baseball player, was something special! He started playing baseball for the Uptown Kiwanis in the 10-12-year-old little league. He hit 25 home runs, setting the record for the league. That was not enough because the following year he set another record in the Pony League of East Side Kiwanis. The number of home runs was not documented but we know the record was set! Sometimes, the most exceptional accomplishments come with statistics that cannot be measured. When Dr. Allison matriculated to the Colt League, his team often played at Victory Field, which did not have a fence. The absence of a fence made home runs obscure but not for Dr. Bennie Wayne. Biff Allison says his brother, Bennie, hit the ONLY home run out of the fenceless Victory Field. The ball might still be soaring.
He then played Class B baseball for McCauly Awnings under Coach Mel Weaver. He started as a 3rd baseman and made the National All-Star team. He played and was awarded the Co-Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the national tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio (playing against two future major league Hall of Fame players- Dave Winfield and Mike Schmidt). Dr. Allison was drafted too, by the Major League Baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1970. Then the Cincinnati Reds bought his draft rights. He ultimately decided to attend The Ohio State University. That decision was heavily influenced by his teacher-mother who urged him to get a college education. To keep his skills sharp, he decided to play baseball for The Ohio State University; however, after being incorrectly placed in right field instead of 3rd base, he resorted to being a one-sport athlete for the first time in his life. After finishing college, Dr. Allison went back to play for the Pirates but a shoulder injury and noncompetitive salaries pushed Dr. Allison toward additional academic pursuits. With a career like this, maybe baseball was his best sport?!
If it was not baseball, then basketball was his sport. The man could play! Perhaps it was the backyard basketball court on Bennington Avenue that gave him his edge. Trying to get a last-minute ticket to a game was impossible when Dr. Bennie Allison was playing. Kena was pulled from class at Ursuline to be asked “are you Bennie Allison’s daughter” and to have Mr. Beck (Bennie’s high school basketball coach) show her video of Dr. Allison in action on the court. Ashley’s most vivid memory from history class is Mr. Beck’s picture of her dad (Bennie) in his Ohio State uniform watching over her all year from a nearby bookshelf. When getting his final jersey made for his funeral, the Wharmby’s sales representative shared his memory of watching Dr. Bennie Allison single-handedly beat Liberty High School.
When Ursuline entered the Steel Valley Conference, Dr. Allison became the first athlete from Ursuline to make All-Steel Valley for any sport. He helped Ursuline win the first AA District Championship in school history, leading to the school’s first appearance in the Regionals, Ohio’s Sweet Sixteen. Dr. Allison was heavily recruited to play basketball in college. The family can recall the head coaches Fred Taylor (The Ohio State University), Bobby Knight (Indiana University) and Lefty Driesell (University of Maryland) visiting their Bennington Avenue home to recruit Bennie. With so many offers on the table, Dr. Allison decided to play basketball for The Ohio State University; he was the first person from Mahoning Valley to receive a basketball scholarship to The Ohio State University. He proudly wore the number 24 and celebrated his basketball accomplishments by displaying his Ohio State team picture at the entrance of his home.
Where he shined brightest seems irrelevant with such an impressive athletic resume. He was inducted into the Ursuline High School Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Ebony Lifeline Support Group, Inc. Sports Museum in 2006.
Dr. Allison had a big brain! Much like his ability to hit home runs, catch winning touchdowns, and score on the basketball court, he was an exceptional doctor with a keen ability to diagnose and treat his patients. He earned his medical degree from Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. After graduation, he was committed to returning to Youngstown, Ohio. He valued his children growing up with family and wanted to serve his hometown. During his time at North Side Hospital, he helped write protocols and developed treatment plans that continue to save lives. His efforts never received medical awards or recognition, but that is not why he did it. He was the Medical Director at East Side Medical Center at the Youngstown Community Action Council from 1984 to 1988. He then opened his own practice on Belmont Avenue until 1992. He worked most of his career at North Eastern Ohio Neighborhood Medical Center in Cleveland, OH from 1992 to 2005. During his time in Cleveland, he also started an Urgent Care Center called Contemporary Care and began serving as a Clinical Instructor at Case Western Reserve University Hospitals.
Dr. Allison was adored by his patients and co-workers for listening carefully, giving endlessly of his resources medically and personally, his sense of humor, and always treating for lunch. His medical career was celebrated in the Youngstown Vindicator newspaper and a special on WKBN-TV, called “Heaven Knows Dr. Allison.” Both highlighted his long tenure at a clinic where doctors typically would come and go. He devoted his life to serving the poor, recognizing that good health should not be reserved for those who can pay. Conversations typically start with, “Let me tell you about how Dr. Allison helped me when I was his patient…” It was no surprise that his patients would sit for hours to be treated by him, refusing to see anyone else.
Dr. Allison’s greatest gift is not documented on his curriculum vitae: his BIG HEART. Anything Dr. Allison had, he shared with others. He gave endless medical counsel and personal loans from the Allison Bank. He loved hosting a great party, feeding people, talking and writing about sports for the Buckeye Review, giving the best backyard firework display in Youngstown, and hosting the Harlem Globetrotters for a post-game meal at his home. He enjoyed music, especially smooth jazz, R&B, gospel and a little bit of hip-hop. Bennie also enjoyed making CDs for his friends and family in a world full of digital music. He gave his life to the Lord and was baptized. After his health declined, his generosity accelerated. He reunited with old friends, joined the Elks, nurtured family relationships and called those needing a friend. He made daily calls to a group of senior citizens to add cheer and check on their well-being. He coached Ashley on her CNN appearances and offered exciting ideas to enhance Kena’s high school biology lessons. He loved his wife Fawn, a true partner and infinite source of support for over forty-six years of marriage. Dr. Allison’s legacy of generosity and love will continue to soar like that ball from Victory Field.
Dr. Allison leaves to mourn his passing, but to celebrate his eternal rest and peace, his wife, the former Fawn Walls, whom he married July 17, 1976; two daughters, Kena E. (Dana) Allison and Ashley R. Allison, both of Washington, D.C.; a brother, Herbert Biff Allison, Jr. of Youngstown; aunts, Gwendolyn Ross and Carol Walden, both of Austintown; an uncle, Jan (Vera) Allison of Gary, Indiana and nieces and nephews, Herbert (Angie) Shelton, Herbert Chez (Tiiona) Allison, Alexis Allison, Amber Allison, Isiah Allison, Austin Allison and Alexandra Allison. In addition, he leaves his Godchildren, Kendra Ross, Erin Montgomery and Mariah Quarles. The family extends a special thank you to Chez and Austin Allison for always going the extra mile to help Uncle Bennie when he needed them the most. Thank you!
Dr. Allison is preceded in death by his father and mother, Herbert and Catherine Conoly Allison; an uncle, George Allison; niece, Alysia Allison and sister-in-law, Karen “Kay” Allison.
Visitation, without family present, will be on Friday, March 24 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at L. E. Black, Phillips & Holden Funeral Home. A second visitation will be Saturday, March 25, 2023, from 10:00 – 1:00 p.m. (with the family arriving at 11:00 a.m.) at the New Bethel Baptist Church. The Buckeye Elks #73 will present the last 20 minutes of the visitation. A celebration of his life and legacy will follow at 1:00 p.m. Due to the pandemic, guests are asked to wear masks.
Guests who are unable to attend the funeral on Saturday may view a livestream of the service from the New Bethel Baptist Church Facebook page.
Gifts in memory of Dr. Bennie Allison may be made to University Hospitals (Kidney Transplant Fund). Please send memorial gifts to:
Institutional Relations & Development
PO Box 94554
Cleveland, OH 44101-4554
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dr. Bennie Wayne Allison, M. D., please visit our floral store.
A television tribute will air Friday, March 24 at the following approximate times: 6:47 a.m. on WYTV, 9:43 a.m. on WKBN, 10:58 a.m. on FOX and 8:12 p.m. on MyYTV. Video will be posted here the day of airing.