Clinton Allen Monuments celebrates the century mark

Clinton L. Allen Monuments’ celebrated their 100th year in business with a Shenandoah Chamber and Industry Association coffee and ribbon cutting on Nov. 21 at their Shenandoah location. Left to Right: Greg Connell, Executive Director, Shenandoah Chamber and Industry Assoc.; Nancy Maher; Rita Gibson, Shenandoah City Council Board Member; Dick Hunt, Shenandoah Mayor; Deb Hall, Office Manager, Shenandoah location; Mark Allen; Stacey Allen. (Photo Heidi Hertensen/Valley News)

Clinton L. Allen Monuments’ use of the phrase of “standing behind their work” has two meanings.

One is the company’s historical pictures of members of the family-owned business standing behind headstones which they have sold and serviced for 100 years. The other meaning is even the monuments sold 60 years ago, the company will still make sure are in proper condition.

“We have stones that were sold for $5, $10, or $15 many, many years ago and we will still replace them if they are cracked because of natural conditions or will fix them if they have settled,” said Mark Allen during a reception Thursday, Nov. 21 in honor of the 100 year anniversary at their Shenandoah location.

The company started in 1919 in Albany, Missouri, by twin brothers Clinton and Clayton and Stuart Allen. Clinton was Mark’s great-grandfather. One-hundred years later, the fifth-generation of the family is involved. Over the years, Clinton Allen has expanded to Shenandoah, Clarinda and Red Oak. Clinton Allen’s headquarters are in Maryville, Missouri. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Clarinda location.

Mark explained other Allen family members have been involved with the business including his twin sisters Pam Walter and Tam Meyer. Mark’s son Traven is the fifth generation. According to some research, Mark said Clinton L Allen Monuments is one of the estimated 500 businesses in the country that have been owned by the same family for at least 100 years.

Mark said Clinton Allen established in 1937 in Maryville and purchased established businesses in Red Oak and Clarinda the same year. Deb Hall manages the Red Oak location. Karen Ficek is in Red Oak and Jeanette Johnson has been in Clarinda for 22 years.

Mark said the business has evolved from originally using marble or sandstone to granite, which is mined around the world. 

“Marble and sandstone were not good in Midwest weather,” he said as the exposure to precipitation eventually wore down the engravings. “And back then, we chiseled.” Today’s headstones are engraved with sophisticated equipment to create the art and details.

Granite is received from places like Italy, China and Norway and in the United States from Minnesota and Vermont. Customers can order a headstone at any of the locations, but the work is done in Maryville.

“We are a full-service company,” he said. “We sell, design, create and install.”

Clinton L. Allen Monuments customer base is in up to 20 counties between Southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri. Mark estimated his company’s work is in at least 200 cemeteries. Occasionally, they are used as far north as Interstate 80 and 50 miles south of Maryville.

Mark and his staff of 15 have noticed how customers are putting more detail and artwork in the headstones. He has had headstones resemble mature corn stalks or pictures of family farms are etched.

“We’ve added much more than just the names and dates which were common for many years,” he said.

From the time the headstone is ordered to when it is installed can take up to 60 days. There may be delays during the winter months because of the weather and ground conditions at cemeteries.

Clinton L Allen’s other work can be seen with the stone Shenandoah signs located outside of town along Highway 2 and U.S. Highway 59.

“We are forever grateful for our customers who have kept us going for 100 years and more,” Mark said.

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