Lake Placid mourns local legend Denny Allen

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (WCAX) The village of Lake Placid is mourning the loss of a local legend.

Denny Allen-Courtesy: ORDA

For 37 years, Denny Allen had many jobs: dad, coach, general manager to the Olympic Center and a director for the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

Friday, his family, friends and community members gathered to celebrate his life.

"Denny was everyone's person. Whether he liked you or not, he liked you," said Greg Borzilleri, a friend.

If you have been to Lake Placid anytime in the last 64 years, chances are you've heard of Denny Allen-- a youth hockey coach for two decades, ice sports assistant at the 1980 Olympic Games and the general manager of the Olympic Center.

"He was always... there," said Buzzy Rickard, a friend.

Allen passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 1, leaving his wife, Karen, his daughter and his community devastated.

"There's just not enough words for Denny Allen," Rickard said.

A week after his passing, his family held his memorial service in true Denny fashion.

"I suppose it is the very first time a funeral mass has been celebrated here. It's an unusual place and yet a sacred place. An actual miracle happened here back in 1980," said Rev. John Yonkovig of St. Agnes Church.

About 500 people filled the seats of the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid to give Denny his final farewell.

"He was always giving of his time, he was selfless. His wife, Karen, shared him with the entire community and I think she saw that today," said Jon Lundin of ORDA.

Kind words filled the air of the arena during the service, whether about his Olympic work or a traveler passing through the village.

"One of the best memories that she had of Lake Placid was meeting Denny Allen and many people can say that," Lundin said.

And his "Dennyisms" brought roaring laughter from the crowds.

"'Pull yourself together, you look like an unmade bed,'" Borzilleri said to laughter. "There was a couple words before that but it's probably not safe for TV."

As the community so dear to his heart mourn, they remember the legacy left by one of Lake Placid's greats.

"It's not the length of the life you live but the life that you do live," Lundin said. "Denny lived a rich and beautiful life."

The celebration of Denny's life continues Friday night. Community members are invited to the speed skating oval in Lake Placid at 8 p.m. to skate for Denny.