Clifford Allen


Early in the morning on Dec. 18, 2020, COVID-19 claimed another life, and one of the world’s brightest lights was extinguished. Clifford “Hap” Allen, 74, was a force of nature. He was fiercely independent, with a quick sharp wit, a sarcastic sense of humor, an infectious laugh and smile and encouraging nature. With the unique ability to both put people at ease while simultaneously expecting the best of them, he was an exceptional educator and mentor. His zeal was contagious, and his encouragement was boundless as was his unwavering acceptance and support for the people he loved.

As a child, along with his four brothers, Hap started out life as a dairy farmer on the Allen family farm. Upon graduating from high school, he attended Michigan State University and received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education in 1968. After a brief stint teaching sixth grade, he realized that career path wasn’t for him. He returned to the dairy industry, beginning what would be a nearly 40-year career in the dairy genetic field.

In 1969, Hap began as marketing director at MABC-Select Sires in East Lansing, Michigan, serving dairy farmers in Michigan and northern Wisconsin. During his time at MABC, he created his own company, Registered Holsteins. In 1991, he moved to Noba Inc. in Tiffin, Ohio, where he was the lead for sales in a 10-state area as well as globally, helping to put Noba on the worldwide map as a source for exceptional dairy genetics. In 1995, the Michigan State University Dairy Club honored Hap with the Outstanding Alumnus Award.

In 1996, Hap’s role expanded to vice president of operations at Noba. When Noba merged with two other cooperatives into Genex Cooperative in 1999, Hap relocated from Ohio to Ithaca, New York, when he was selected as associate vice president of marketing for the northeast region.

In 2005, Hap moved to Shawano to serve as Genex associate vice president of dairy market development, a new role to direct the launch and successful implementation of new innovations, a position he excelled in until he retired in 2008. In Genex history, Hap is likely the only employee to work in the three headquarters locations of Tiffin, Ithaca and Shawano.

Hap was an educator at heart (as his college degree would suggest) and was especially passionate about helping young people. He judged at several county fairs and dairy shows, especially in Michigan and Ohio. For years after the event, former 4-H and FFA members would remember Hap as a favorite judge on the cow show circuit.

Throughout his years at MABC-Select Sires and Genex, many colleagues named Hap as an exceptional mentor. One described Hap in this way: “Hap’s big personality and genuine desire to support and foster many of us young’ns coming into the business was a blessing not to be forgotten.”

Another said, “Hap was a mentor and friend to all. He defined mentorship: coaching the younger generation with such intention. He had a special gift to bring out the best in others. With his attentiveness, those kind eyes, open ears, alert mind and caring heart, he intuitively knew what an individual needed, and he could aptly deliver that message — whether a heartfelt compliment, shiny idea, hard truth or the occasional kick-in-the-butt.”

An organization that Hap was incredibly passionate about was North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC). After attending the first dairy challenge event in 2002 at his alma mater, Michigan State, he was hooked. His enthusiasm for this volunteer-run event was contagious, and he was notorious for recruiting coworkers and industry peers into the volunteer network. Hap served on the Dairy Challenge Board of Directors from 2002-2008 and was the organization’s first publicity chair. In 2020, NAIDC selected Hap as a recipient of the prestigious Dairy Challenge Founders Award.

In addition to being a proud graduate of MSU who loved the Spartans — loudly, he was a lifelong Democrat and supporter of equality for all. Gardening and landscaping were passionate interests that Hap inherited from his beloved mother, Vivian. In his condominium neighborhood, Hap and other residents spent countless hours planting, mulching and beautifying the area. He served as the condo association president for a decade and recruited other residents to take on leadership roles in the community.

Hap was preceded in death by his parents, Clifford and Vivian (Shoemaker) Allen; his brothers, Lynn Allen, Roger Allen and Gale Allen. He will be lovingly remembered by his brother, Lee Allen, and his sisters-in-law, Shirley Allen, Vicki Allen and Carol Hillary; his niece, Christine, her husband, Matthew, their children, Killian and Corwin; his nephew, Timothy, his wife, Manda, their children, Gavin and Alexandra; his nephew, Aaron, his wife, Katrina, their children, Michael, Rylan and Ava Grace.

There will be celebrations of Hap’s life for friends and family during the spring of 2021 in Shawano and Grandville, Michigan.

Honoring Hap’s passion for youth and dairy challenge, colleagues and family have established the Hap Allen Memorial through dairy challenge. Memorials can be sent to 3310 Latham Drive, Madison, WI 53713.

Certainly, we mourn. Although, Hap will expect us to carry on. We honor him by living the actions he modeled. Do the right thing, always. Be enthusiastic. Trust your gut. Help others. Live without care for accolades. Seek the best in others, and give the best of yourself.

Mickelson Funeral and Cremation Service of Shawano is assisting the family with arrangements. Please share online condolences at