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2020 Shepherd of the Year: Ron Allen

Ron Allen

The Maryland Sheep Breeders Association’s Shepherd of the Year for 2020 was posthumously awarded to Ron Allen. Ron was a long time MSBA member, supporter, Festival Committee stalwart, and devoted shepherd of his Clun Forest flock.

Ron died August 8, 2020 at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore of a staph infection. He was 79. To most, Ron came across as a humble shepherd, so many people may not know that Dr. Allen spent 30 years as a research scientist and radio astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. Dr. Allen’s specialty was galactic spiral structure, and he was published in 18 invited review papers (16 as the first author), more than 100 papers in refereed journals (33 as the first author), and more than 66 papers in conferences and media (24 as the first author), according to his biography at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Ron purchased his first sheep, a Clun Forest, from Festival Chairman Gwen Handler in 1991. “Ron was an amazing scientist”, Gwen says, “and took his shepherding seriously. The first time he came to look at the sheep, he showed up with a fully organized notebook of research he had done ahead of time.

He was always willing to learn and was a good listener. He was also proud to be able to represent the Clun Forest breed in the Breed Display Barn at the Festival”.

Ron was easy to work with and was an important member of the festival support team, serving as chair of the Festival’s Tent & Table committee for many years.

Ron Allen and Clun Forest Sheep

In this 2012 photo from the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival archives, Ron gets ready to lead his Clun Forest in the Parade of Breeds.

Our love and support go out to his wife, Jan, and the rest of his family. We will miss his easy smile and always helpful attitude, and his love of shepherding his flock.