SEATTLE — Faye Allen, the mother of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, died Saturday at age 90.
Faye Allen was a former Seattle schoolteacher who championed public libraries and public education through the family’s charitable foundation. According to a statement from Paul Allen’s company, Vulcan Inc., she died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Paul Allen has said his mother’s love of reading ignited his interest in technology and science after she gave him a book about steam engines.
Her daughter, Jody, is CEO of Vulcan Inc. Her late husband, Kenneth S. Allen, was the longtime associate director of the University of Washington library system.
Faye Allen taught fourth grade for many years, and her family says former students used to stop her on the street to thank her for giving them a love of reading.
She was an avid sports fan, particularly of her son’s Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers. In Portland, a basketball player once fell on her during a game, breaking her wrist. She wouldn’t leave, though, until the game was over.
She was born in Carnegie, Okla., and grew up with four older brothers. As a young woman, she worked nights at a local library.
At Anadarko High School, in 1940, Faye Allen was named “All-Around Girl,” the highest honor the school bestowed. That year’s “All-Around Boy” was her future husband.
The children’s center at Seattle Public Library’s downtown central library is named for her, as is a center for visual arts at the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery.
Caring for his mother helped inspire Paul Allen to create the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Allen says his mother’s illness fueled his drive to fund research in the field that might someday lead to a breakthrough in treatment of Alzheimer’s and other genetic brain disorders and diseases.