Roger Allen—a gifted teacher and dedicated mentor—is set to retire after 25 years at Puget Sound.

Roger Allen has been a professor, a sailor, a celestial navigator, a physical therapist, and a professor again. The latest leg of Allen’s unconventional career path has lasted nearly three decades, a different sort of adventure than life at sea, but no less intrepid. Or, as Professor George Tomlin said in his introduction to Allen’s Regester Lecture in 2016: “Dr. Roger J. Allen, professor of physical therapy, is not the kind of person you’d think of as coming from Kansas—but he does. Or did … just like Amelia Earhart … first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Daring explorer of boundaries. A lot like Roger. Except that Roger hasn’t disappeared.” 

It’s been 25 years, to be exact, of teaching doctoral students in physical therapy at Puget Sound, of using his gift as a storyteller to make obscure anatomy or neurophysiology facts come to life, of guiding research that often leads to questions bordering on the philosophical and metaphysical. We sit in his office on the second floor of Weyerhaeuser on a fall morning; Allen wears wire-rimmed glasses, scrubs, jeans, and Sperry’s. He doesn’t usually pair scrubs with jeans, he explains, but his anatomy class that afternoon is dissecting. I ask him to start from the beginning.