Joseph (Joe) Hugh Allen, state representative from Baytown, son of James Viron Allen and Mary Azilea (Ferguson) Allen, was born in Baytown, Texas, on January 27, 1940, and was a lifelong resident. Allen attended Baytown schools, graduating from Robert E. Lee High School in 1958. He joined the United States Army, Army Security Agency, immediately after school and was awarded Serviceman of the Year and the Good Conduct Medal shortly before he was honorably discharged in 1961. After his tour of duty, Allen returned to Baytown, attended Lee College, served as editor of the Lee Lantern and as president of Lee College Student Association, and was inducted into the Lee College Hall of Fame. Allen was elected as a trustee of the Lee College Board of Regents in later years. Upon graduation from Lee College, Allen went on to study economics and political science at the University of Houston.
He was elected as a Democrat to his first term in the Texas House of Representatives in 1966 and served until 1979. In his sophomore term in office, he became one of the youngest members of the House to receive a vice-chair position on a standing committee. He served as a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1974, chaired the House Committee on Administration, the Property Tax Investigating Committee, and the standing committee on State Finance of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and served on a variety of committees, such as the Committee on Data Processing and Printing (vice-chairman), Conservation and Reclamation Committee, Counties, Public Land and Buildings Committee, and Liquor Regulation Committee. Beyond his political career, he also served as manager of Government Affairs at Getty Oil in 1980 and in 1984 joined the Northern Natural Gas Company which became Enron Corporation. Allen retired from Enron as vice president of Government Affairs-The Americas in 2001. He served on boards with the Alzheimer's Association-Greater Houston Chapter, Alliance for Quality Education, Downtown Houston Association, the Energy Council, Galveston Bay Foundation, Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), Grand Parkway Association, the Natural Gas Group, the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, the American Leadership Forum, the Texas Democratic Leadership Council, and Governor Ann Richards's New Texas Foundation. Allen was also member of the Harris County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board of Trustees Advisory Council. He was appointed by governors Mark White and Ann Richards to the Interstate Oil Compact Commission for two terms, in 1983 and 1991 respectively. Allen held membership in the Texas Intrastate Pipeline Association, Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners, Texas Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, Greater Houston Partnership, American Legislative Exchange Council, Center for Public Policy/University of Houston, the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, American Leadership Forum Class VII, and held ex-officio membership in Central Houston, Inc.
Joe Allen made his mark on many issues, including the right to vote for eighteen-year-old citizens, conservation of coastal fish populations, halting subsidence of land in Baytown, and most notably, his participation in 1971 in what became known as the "Dirty Thirty"—a group of bipartisan legislators who fought to eliminate corruption and scandal in state government. Allen lost his battle with Alzheimer's on May 24, 2008, in Baytown, Texas. Allen was known for his big sense of humor and his appreciation for practical jokes. In politics he was known as a strong legislator who took action. He was a Presbyterian. Allen was survived by his wife, Kitty Cowan Allen, and three daughters. A son had preceded him in death. He was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.