While attending real estate conferences, I met Chet around October 1999. He was well known, highly respected and extremely well liked. If you attended the creative real estate sessions of the National Council of Exchangors or Society of Exchange Counselors (of which he had been President), Chet often had the microphone in his hand. One of the things Chet loved most was brainstorming with other professionals in real estate and business. Nirvana to Chet was most probably standing in the middle of a conference room of 100+ real estate brokers and owners guiding them to groupthink all of the creative ways to solve someone else’s problem. This excited him, and he was very good at it. A couple of observations from those initial years:
- I got to know Chet Allen more, because I probably developed more problems than most people and he wanted to help with his ideas and experience. That approach highlighted something else about Chet – he was very kind.
- In the process of brainstorming, Chet saw realistic possibilities in options that others would have quickly judged as impossible. I very much liked that about Chet. Many business principals lose their gusto after running into regulatory or resource constraints. However, despite his substantial experience, the dreamer in Chet never stopped him from shooting for the stars. He never seemed to let a bad entrepreneurial experience get in the way of his future enthusiasm, which I think is a sign of some of the most successful “big thinkers.”
As for family, Chet’s love for Lynn and his children was paramount. One time in New York state, Chet was instructing development and business investment to some real estate professionals. He talked about Lynn helping in one of G5’s projects, and he became emotional. Beyond being a devoted father and husband, though, it’s hard to define Chet by any category because he didn’t view life with parameters. He once told me that he was a hippie who loved business. Within his broad and diverse interests, Chet demonstrated admirable characteristics of love, humor and generosity mixed in with an openness to life, appreciation for self-development, creation and productivity. Packaging all of that together, I think it’s fair to say that Chet was a humanist who wandered boldly and embraced his curiosity for life without fear. He had a large spirit that was bigger than any one conference room, and now he flies over all of us with his beloved brother, and fellow airman, Ken.