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Former Herald & Tribune owner Jim Allen passes away

Local businessman, entrepreneur and former owner of the Herald & Tribune, James Allen, 81, of Johnson City, died Monday, Jan. 25 at his residence.
A native of Wetumpka, Ala., Allen had lived in Johnson City since 1954. He bought Griffith Motors and operated it until 1984 and also formed Southeastern Tile Distributors. He was one of the founders of Emersons Restaurants, having 43 restaurants in 16 states at one time.
Former business partner Bill Breeden, who once was co-owner of the Herald & Tribune with Allen, described him as “a fine person.”
“We worked together for 10 years,” Breeden said. “He was always fair and honest with me. I thought an awful lot of him. I always enjoyed his company.”
The two met when they were members of the same Sunday School class at Central Baptist Church in Johnson City. Breeden, who sold advertising for the Johnson City Press-Chronicle, also remembers calling on Allen at his car dealership.
“One day I was there, and somebody came in and laid a copy of the Herald & Tribune on his desk. I said, ‘boy, I’d really like to own that newspaper’. He looked at me and said, ‘o.k., why don’t we buy it?’”
It wasn’t long after that, Breeden said, they approached then-owner, Tim Pridgen, who sold it to them. The two co-owned the paper from 1961 until 1970 when Breeden bought Allen out and became sole owner.
In addition to his business endeavors, Allen was the Campaign Manager for Ray Blanton in his term as governor. He was a Founder/Director of Mountain Empire Bank. He served as a Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Johnson City Industrial Committee, Johnson City Country Club, United Way, American Legion Little League, The Civitan Club, President of the Pirate Club, member of the ETSU Foundation and Presidents Trust. He was an integral member of the establishment of ETSU Medical School and the ETSU Allen Family Scholarship.
Survivors include: four sons, Mike Allen, Keith Allen and Madison Allen, all of Johnson City, and Ronnie Allen, of Greenville, SC; his ex-wife, Jean Hackbarth, of Johnson City; three sisters, Mary Cox, of Durham, NC, Louise Petrusnek, of Tuscaloosa, AL, and Nell Roberts, of Tuscumbia, AL; six grandsons, Jordan Allen, Mitch Allen, Shae Allen, Lacey Allen, Whitney Allen and Nick Allen.
Memorials may be sent to The Mac Foundation, 27 Kershaw Court, Greenville, SC 29607 (
Online condolences may be sent to the Allen family via Morris-Baker Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 2001 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, TN. 423-282-1521