Allen, D-Wake, appeared to have been recovering well from a mild stroke on Sept. 23. But a blood clot entered his lung Friday night, killing him instantly, according to a statement from House administrative clerk Carmen Cauthen.
He was 69 years old.
"Rep. Allen was a tireless advocate for his constituents, and spent his years in public service improving the lives of the people of Wake County and North Carolina," Jerry Meek, the state Democratic Party chairman, said in a statement.
The retired teacher worked as a lobbyist for the North Carolina Association of Educators and for Secretary of State Elaine Marshall before running in 2002 for the state House seat vacated by veteran Democratic legislator Dan Blue.
In his first term, he worked to give more state money to historically black colleges, including N.C. Central University, where he had received a master's degree in education. He was re-elected without a Republican opponent in 2004.
Allen took a lead role in the long-running fight to create a state lottery in 2005, when he was one of four principal sponsors of the bill narrowly approved to legalize the games.
As in years past, the House passed the measure, only to see it stall in the Senate. Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue, the Senate's presiding officer, broke a 24-24 tie Aug. 30 to approve the bill. Gov. Mike Easley signed it into law the following day.
This year, he was a chief supporter of a nine-member oversight committee created to ensure that lottery profits are used for education.
"We want to ensure the citizens from this state that the proceeds from the lottery will be used exactly for what we said it would be used for," Allen said in July, when the House approved legislation to create the panel.
Allen was working as he recuperated from his stroke, friends and allies said.
Octavia Rainey, a southeast Raleigh community activist, said she met Friday afternoon with the bedridden lawmaker, who asked her to look into the condemnation of an elderly diabetic woman's house in Wake Forest.
"She was not in his district, but it didn't matter to him," Rainey said. "She was an elderly lady who needed help."
State law requires Democratic leaders in the 33rd House District to pick a replacement candidate -- who would be the all but certain election winner. If county election officials don't have time to print new ballots, votes cast for Allen on Nov. 7 will go to the replacement nominee.
Visitation is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Raleigh. A funeral service will follow at 1 p.m.
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