Allen Gallant was a well-loved member of the recovery community in Provincetown. “He was the go-to guy who sponsored so many people over the years,” said his niece, Pamela Sidmore. Gallant worked throughout his life to sustain his own sobriety and to help others by supporting theirs.
Over the past 18 months, Pamela and her mother, Allen’s sister Virginia, rallied around him as he struggled to regain sobriety after a late-life relapse. He was admitted to Woodlands at Pleasant Bay Assisted Living in Brewster because, Pamela said, “addiction got the best of him.” He had also been diagnosed with metastatic gall bladder cancer, she said. Allen died on Aug. 12, 2022. He was 74.
The only son of the late Joseph Rosaro Gallant and Ruth Monica (Picard) Gallant, Allen was born on Dec. 12, 1947, in Salem. He grew up in Salem and Danvers and began his long association with the Boy Scouts while in middle school. By 16 he was an Eagle Scout.
Allen graduated from Holten High School in Danvers in 1965. In high school he learned theatrical sound and lighting skills that stayed with him throughout his life. When he was in his 50s, he worked in sound and lighting for the Waterfront Theater in Key West, and in Provincetown he turned Acker Bosworth Hall in the basement of the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House into a theater.
Allen graduated from Salem State College (now University) in 1971 with a degree in business administration. He had already started a job as an administrator for the Boy Scouts of America and stayed with the organization for nearly a decade.
His struggles with addiction brought him into the recovery community and inspired his future work. In the mid-1980s, he opened a bookstore in Malden called the Sober Camel, which specialized in health and healing titles.
Allen moved to Provincetown in 1991, where he started the Safe Harbor guest house at 147 Bradford St. Extension on the site of the farmhouse formerly used by Gale Force Dairy Farm and at one time owned by Allen’s brother-in-law Raymond Alves. The three-room inn provides a safe place for those recovering from addiction to vacation.
With Leslie McGrath, Allen also established the Recovering Hearts Bookstore in Provincetown, which has since closed. For many years he was a stalwart at the annual Round Up, held at the Provincetown Inn, where those in recovery convene for meetings, seminars, and dancing. He also sponsored many people in the AA group that met regularly at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House.
“I’ve been sober for 31 years,” his niece said, crediting Allen for her stability. “He was my idol,” she added.
In the early 2000s, Allen bought property in Key West, where he became involved with the recovery community and theater. But he returned to Provincetown in 2013, where among his community-minded acts was his annual pear-peeling party. After harvesting pears from his tree, he would throw a party to make pear sauce (a lot like applesauce) to donate to the Soup Kitchen in Provincetown. Leftover pears were placed in a basket in front of the Safe Harbor House to be shared with any and all.
When Whaler’s Wharf burned on the night of Feb. 10, 1998, Allen was there. He spent that night hosing down the roof of the U.U. Meeting House across the street, helping save the church from sure destruction.
Allen was known for his strength of character and total lack of pretension. His friend K.C. Myers said she loved talking with him because of his openness, honesty, and hard-won wisdom. “People loved him because he was totally direct,” she said.
He is survived by his three sisters, Marilyn Gabriel and husband Henry of Northfield, Carol Alves of Topsfield, and Virginia Gallant Sidmore of Danvers; and by many nieces and nephews, including Pamela Sidmore, for whom he did so much. He leaves many friends, including Kevin Doherty, Stephanie DeRosa, and David Sirois, who miss him deeply.
Allen was predeceased by a niece, Nicole Alves, who died at age five in 1978.
Donations in Allen’s memory can be made to Wild Care Cape Cod in Eastham (wildarecapecod.org), the Animal Rescue Front (animalrescuefront.org), or the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House at 236 Commercial St. Provincetown 02657.
A celebration of Allen’s life will be held in Provincetown next spring.