Pierce Allman (1934–2022)
The Sixth Floor Museum has lost a longtime friend and supporter with the passing of Pierce Allman. In Museum interviews and programs over the years, Pierce demonstrated his remarkable gift for storytelling by sharing his vivid recollections of November 22, 1963. That day, as program director at WFAA Radio in 1963, Pierce stood at the corner of Houston and Elm Streets in Dealey Plaza and witnessed the Kennedy assassination. In the immediate aftermath, desperately in search of a telephone to report to his radio station, Pierce headed towards the Texas School Book Depository building. In the doorway, he asked a young man, “Where’s the phone?” The man jerked his thumb inside and replied, “In there.” Several weeks later, Allman realized that the young man he spoke to in the minutes following the assassination was likely Lee Harvey Oswald on his way out of the Depository building.
Finally securing a telephone, Pierce Allman gave a now legendary breathless report live on WFAA Radio: “Just a few minutes ago, the president of the United States turned from Houston Street onto Elm Street on his way to a scheduled luncheon appearance at the Stemmons Trade Mart. And as he went by the Texas School Book Depository, headed for the Triple Underpass, there were three loud, reverberating explosions. Nobody moved. Everybody seemed stunned. A few seemed to look around wondering, who has the firecrackers? And suddenly, the Secret Service men sprang into action. The convertible bearing the president and Mrs. Kennedy sped away, and officers, both plainclothes and in uniform, seemed to spring from everywhere at once, guns drawn, ordering people to lie flat.”
Just over twenty-five years later, in February 1989, Pierce Allman lent his distinctive voice to a new exhibition opening on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository. For the next three decades, Pierce guided millions of visitors to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza through the very history he bore witness via the Museum’s audio guide. And Pierce returned to the Museum on a number of occasions for public programs, participating in this Living History in 2014, and exhibits, narrating a video for the Museum’s Dallas Law Enforcement: Voices from History exhibition (2006-07) and being featured in the Museum’s photography exhibition, Portraits: History Lived (2015-16). We are so grateful for his unyielding willingness to share his story over the years. His presence – and his voice – will be greatly missed. The Sixth Floor Museum extends its sincerest condolences to the Allman family.
Andy Jacobsohn, photographer, The Dallas Morning News “Portraits” Collection / The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza