I guess I’m not too surprised that no one guessed the identity of my mystery man in yesterdays picture of the cap and gown table. It was a long time ago, after all. But to me his face just jumped right out of the photo, no doubt because I’ve spent a great deal of time over the course of many years thinking about him. The guy I’m talking about is just behind the young woman, the one with his hands on his hips and a handsome smile on his face. He’s Herbert Allen (’29). Allen was a brilliant and original engineer, a prolific inventor who held over 300 patents, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He was an extremely generous donor to Rice and he served on the board for many years–he was vice-chairman during the 1969 Masterson Crisis and chairman during the very difficult early 1970s. Here’s a link to his National Academy Memorial.
He also had a really cool car:
That’s a Mercer Speedster! How do I know this? Because of the hilarious note he wrote on the back of the picture: