Former Arvada City Manager and Councilmember Don Allard, known for his unwavering decades-long dedication to public service, died Wednesday, Feb. 12, after a battle with cancer. He was 90.
Don Allard’s life began on March 3, 1929, in southeast Missouri as the second of two sons born to John and Edna Allard. He was proud of his rural upbringing during a time when, as described by Allard, “Everybody pretty much depended on himself and the good will of his neighbors to get along.” He went on to explain that his father had died when the children were young, and that the family had worked hard to live within their means and do the best they could.
Mr. Allard graduated from Poplar Bluff High School in Missouri. He received a B.S. in Business and Public Administration from the University of Missouri and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas. Allard spent two years in the Armed Services during the Korean conflict, and while he was thoroughly trained for military combat, Allard was “grateful” that he was not called into battle. When his time in the military ended, Allard went back to Missouri and began what would become a 40-year career managing local governments.
As the City Manager of Columbia, Missouri, Mr. Allard oversaw several significant improvements there including the construction of the water treatment plant, the regional wastewater treatment plant, the Columbia Regional Airport and the implementation of a municipal trash collection system. After nearly 20 years of serving in government in Missouri, Allard came to Colorado where, beginning in 1974, he served as the deputy city manager and eventually the city manager for the City of Arvada. In 1993, he was elected to the Arvada City Council, where he served another 24 years. Regarding his success in public service, Mr. Allard said, “I just happen to enjoy problem-solving and figuring out a good solution.” Those who worked with Mr. Allard concur that his primary concern was the amount of taxpayer money allocated towards governmental activity. In Allard’s words, “Government should stick to the basics and not tax the taxpayer any more than we absolutely have to.”
Arvada Mayor Marc Williams reflected on Don Allard’s contributions to the City Council and the community, “Don always brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to every municipal discussion. He was a man of integrity and principled thinking. I will miss his wry humor.”
Former city councilmember Steve Urban, who served on Arvada’s city council with Mr. Allard for 12 years, said, “Don was affectionately known by those who knew him well as ‘Uncle Don.’ He referred to himself as Allard: ‘Allard here.’” Urban went on to describe Mr. Allard’s respectfulness and professionalism. “Don would greet people using formal titles: Mr., Mrs. and Ms.” And he lauded Allard for having “more institutional knowledge of the City of Arvada than anyone in its history.” Said Urban, “Very few individuals contributed more to the service of our great city than Don Allard. He definitely left his mark in our community and will be greatly missed.”
Chris Daly, Arvada’s former city attorney of 24 years, described Don as a “loving father, grandfather and friend,” adding that, “Don's passion was public service both as an administrative and elected official. He believed the role of government was to provide basic/essential services such as roads, water and public safety services.” According to Daly, Allard’s favorite quote was, “The devil is in the details.” “Don was devoted to making Arvada the best it could be,” said Daly. “We are all beneficiaries of his tireless efforts.”
Craig Kocian, who was the city manager in Arvada for 21 years, called Mr. Allard “an extraordinary person and public servant.” Kocian explained that, “Oddly enough, Don worked for me as a deputy city manager, and then I worked for him when he became a councilmember.” He went on to say, “Whatever his role, Don exercised and preached admirable, actually estimable, professionalism, intelligence and integrity. He cared deeply about good governance in general but, very specifically, for Arvada.” Kocian described Mr. Allard as “a unique human being,” adding that “Don could be a tough sell at budget time, he was always a quick study on complex problems, and he also brought a very dry but accessible sense of humor and active concern for everyone's well-being. Don was a great friend and mentor for me. We rarely parted without a smile for each other. Arvada will miss him,” said Kocian. “I will miss him.”
Former Arvada communications manager Maria VanderKolk, who worked with Allard for 15 years, said, “As a city manager and a city councilmember, Don Allard was a straight shooter. He said what he meant and did what he said he would do. His political positions were strong and unwavering--you always knew where you stood with him. He was incredibly respectful of the taxpayer and believed strongly in limited government. He loved public service and took the role very seriously, thoroughly studying every issue and reading every staff report and agenda item.” Ms. VanderKolk spoke of Allard fondly, describing him as “a diamond in the rough,” adding that “beneath his sometimes crusty exterior, he had a heart of gold.”
In addition to his role in city government, Don Allard also served on many local boards including the Apex Recreation District Board of Directors, the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority, the Arvada City Charter Review Committee, Metro Water Reclamation District Board, Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Association of Special Districts.
While Mr. Allard’s professional passion was public service, those who knew him well say that his personal passion was golf and that he spent as much time on the golf course as he possibly could. According to a 2003 interview, Allard also enjoyed bird hunting, describing the “deep snow and the environment” as the challenge. He also described his awe of nature. “I think of the significant moments I’ve had seeing the migration of birds that come by in huge numbers through the area...and I enjoy that,” Allard said.
During his retirement ceremony in November 2017, Allard was honored by dozens of current and former Arvada leaders and many others who praised him for his integrity as a public servant. Allard received a standing ovation when he approached the podium. He ended his speech that day with a variation of a quote made famous by Chief Joseph, stating: "I will do good government no more forever." He received a second standing ovation as he left the stage.
Mr. Allard was preceded in death by his father John Allard, mother Edna (Underwood) Allard and brother Raymond Allard. He is survived by his daughters, Jane Allard and Beth Constantinou and her husband Nakies Constantinou, and grandsons Kai Constantinou and Herschel "Huck" Gray.
A Celebration of Life reception will be held at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the Arvada Center (6901 Wadsworth Blvd.).
Mr. Allard will be interred at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
- by City Manager