by Vicky Prahin
Robert “Bob Allen” Prahin died Aug. 29 in hospice care. He was 75.
Bob was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1940. He lost his vision to congenital glaucoma, but his parents sent him to public school instead of to the Ohio State School for the Blind in Columbus. He began taking piano lessons at the age of 6 and ultimately made music his profession. He earned his bachelor of music degree from Capital University in Columbus, with a focus on composition. He had already acquired a following in local establishments by the time he graduated, and he continued to build that rapidly during the next decade. He formed the Bob Allen Trio, which played six nights a week for more than 20 years at the Christopher Inn. They went on to play for another 25 years in hotels and restaurants around central Ohio, took part in the annual Jazz & Rib Fest, and performed with several orchestras in the ‘80s. Bob’s first album, “The Naked Piano,” illustrates his versatility on the keyboard, with such melodies as “Promises, Promises” and “Yesterday.” He is renowned for his adept combining of jazz and classical. The trio produced half a dozen albums over the years, some of which are still available on vinyl or CD.
Bob received his extra class license in amateur radio in his early teens and was well known as W8DIL until illness caused his license to lapse. He learned to build his own equipment, soldering tiny chips onto circuit boards and creating many of the items he used for work and pleasure. In his 50s he took up woodworking, purchasing a radial arm saw and learning to make bookends, bookcases, and other things, scaring family and friends with the possibility of adding a finger to some project — which he never did. In the last five years, he lost both legs and much of his hearing, but those who lived and worked with him remember his enthusiasm and perseverance, in spite of new disabilities.
Bob was active in the early years of ACB-Ohio and in the ‘90s began attending national conventions, during which he performed in the Showcase as a soloist and accompanist. He has served on the board of directors of the Columbus chapter of ACBO for the last several years.
Bob leaves his widow Marilyn “Mickey”; his son Aaron; two daughters, Marsi and Crystal; and four stepchildren, who accepted him without reservation as a father figure. His legacy includes his music and the memory of a gentle, non-judgmental man.