Charles Van Nuys Allen, M.D.
May 10, 1933 – Jan. 19, 2019
Longtime Sutter Gould Medical Group physician, Dr. Charles Van Nuys (“Van”) Allen, died peacefully in the home he loved on Jan. 19, 2019 from lung cancer.
Dr. Allen was born in Rochester, Minn. May 10, 1933 to Margaret Wise and Edgar Van Nuys Allen, a prominent Mayo Clinic physician. After marrying childhood sweetheart Suzanne Rye in 1956, he attended pre-med and medical school at the University of Minnesota, earning his M.D. in 1958. He interned at UCSF before returning to Mayo for an internal medicine fellowship. From 1962 to 1964 he served in the U.S. Air Force as a medical officer in Madrid, Spain. Following his military service, the couple settled in Modesto for its non-Minnesota winters, solid community and the opportunity to join the Gould Medical Group, patterned after the Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Allen leaves behind an indelible six-decade medical legacy. After training at Stanford, he became the first board certified oncologist in Stanislaus County. He introduced HMOs to the community. He held many leadership roles at Memorial Hospital and Gould. Upon retiring from practice in 2000, he became Assistant Medical Director for Physician Recruiting. He held this position until October; he was a tireless promoter, recruiting hundreds of physicians to the region.
As a self-educated medical economist, he was an active member of Physicians for a National Health Plan, advocating for single-payer national healthcare to local organizations and through the media. He was among the first Modesto Bee community columnists. With sharp pen and satirical wit, he wrote more than 100 columns on local and national issues, including health reform. They were later published in a book, Keeping Score: Collected Essays.
While perhaps best known as a visionary in the medical community, he was also a devoted husband and loving father and grandfather.
Dr. Allen was predeceased by his son, Charlie, and is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Suzanne; children Stevan, Matt and Lisa; and four grandchildren – Luke, Miles, Jamie and Sydney, who delivered his first great grandchild, Charles, the day before he died.
Intensely focused and larger than life, Dr. Allen was constantly learning and seemed to master anything he tried, with the exception of golf, which he played avidly in retirement. Throughout his life, he enjoyed backpacking with his family and traveling the world. He was passionate about politics and sports, especially the 49ers. He was a voracious reader, writer, movie buff and fan of the Modesto Symphony. Aside from the wife he cherished, he loved nothing more than a good meal and conversation. He possessed an astonishing intellect, a boyish sense of humor and solid Midwestern values. He felt blessed to call Modesto his home and never ceased promoting the city’s virtues to anyone who would listen. In short, he was a happy man who lived life to the fullest.
In addition to his medical accomplishments, Dr. Allen was also active in the community, including working with Planned Parenthood, promoting literacy at the county library and helping establish a sister city with Khmelnitskiy, Ukraine.
A service celebrating Dr. Allen’s life will be held at 1 p.m., Sat., Feb. 2 at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Modesto. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Community Hospice or the Modesto Symphony.
Charles Van Nuys Allen, M.D.