Margaret Ann Clark Allen was a caretaker, a philanthropist and a loving nurse who comforted the ill and the elderly throughout her three decades in Santa Rosa.

She died at her home in Tucson, Ariz., on Oct. 18 after a long battle with lung cancer and pneumonia. She was 76 years old.

"She was just a very caring person, and very interested in the people in her neighborhood," said her daughter, Mary Hamilton of Tucson. "Her job was her life, besides taking care of my father in her later years."

Allen was born in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in 1936 and graduate from Mt. Pleasant High School in 1953. She earned certification as a registered nurse at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines and met her late husband, Tom Allen, in St. Louis. They were married in 1957 and raised four children together, living mostly in Universal City, Mo. They moved to Santa Rosa in 1977 for her husband's job as a physicist at Optical Coating Laboratory, Inc., which later merged with JDS Uniphase. Over the decades, Allen cared for patients as a nurse at Memorial Hospital, Spectrum Health Services, Health Plan of the Redwoods, Council on Aging, and Creekside and Summerfield Convalescent Hospitals. She earned her bachelor's degree in nursing at Sonoma State University in 1989. Even after she injured her back working as a nurse, Allen still found ways to take care of the people in her community, visiting homes of the elderly to make sure they had taken their medications.

"I think it was just her personality, wanting to help people," Hamilton said. "She was also a very smart woman, very intelligent."

Allen served as an officer and fourth-generation member of Philanthropic Educational Organization, also known as P.E.O. International, a group that runs Cottey College for Women in Missouri and organizes fundraisers and events to fund scholarships for women. Allen often offered up her yard for rummage sales and added the bountiful fruit from her backyard trees to the sales.

"She was just a real special person," said her friend, Judy Hudson of Santa Rosa, who served with Allen at PEO for more than a decade. "She was very giving, and had a heart as big as the world."

As a member of Church of the Roses, Allen served as parish nurse, her daughter said.

Allen spent much of the last seven years of her life caring for her ailing husband, and moved with him to Tucson in 2010 to be closer to her daughter. A few months after her husband passed away, Allen was diagnosed with cancer.

"It's a huge loss to our family," her daughter Mary said.

Survivors, in addition to her daughter Mary, include a sister, Marilyn Hills of Maryland, a brother, James Clark of Iowa, son Geoffrey Allen of Encinitas, daughter Laura Johnson of Iowa, and four grandchildren.

The family requests memorials in her honor be made to PEO's Cottey College, 1000 W. Austin, Nevada, MO 64772