Allen Henninger has made quite a name for himself at Masonic Village at Dallas.

Allen has been working with computers for 50 years. He knows how to take them apart, put them back together, program and update them. He has been helping other residents to problem solve for years, with everything from how to connect a printer to how to delete emails properly.

“I’ve sort of become the go-to IT person unofficially up here when a resident has an issue,” Allen said. “Typically, I work with the Windows operating system, but that doesn’t preclude me from helping someone with their iPad or iPhone. I’m always more than willing to learn something new.”

Allen, 76, spends most of his time in his computer room in the three-bedroom villa he shares with his wife, Helen. There, he’s surrounded by three desktop computers, two laptops, two printers, two tablets and two smartphones (one is for his wife, who never uses it, he said).

“It’s just that thirst for knowledge, and for me, it’s so interesting,” he said. “If I see anything related to technology, I’m going to read in depth about it and experiment with it. It keeps me going with the times. I’ll buy a new computer, and then I’ll dig into it. I must have eight hard drives here from different computers over the years. Before I recycle them [the computers], I’ll take the hard drive out and use it as a backup or external drive.”

Allen spends hours a day working with residents who request his assistance through the front desk. Typically, he’ll fix the main problem quickly, but then discover they have additional issues he needs to troubleshoot. This gives him a sense of accomplishment and pride.

During his many years teaching Industrial Arts and Technology Education at a public school in central Pennsylvania, Allen caught the “technology bug” and wanted to learn more and more. He would seek out any books and magazines related to computers. During the 1970s, before the internet really came to be, he started teaching himself basic programming, which led him to better understand how to fix something if it wasn’t working right.

“I got to a point where I started building my own computers,” Allen said. “I gathered spare parts and started putting them together and learned how to build them.”

Now that he’s retired, Allen notices that many residents at the Masonic Village are technologically challenged. He can solve most problems by taking over their computer screens remotely through a program called Quick Assist, without even having to leave his home. If he can’t figure something out, he’ll call Microsoft Support.

“One of the support staff said, ‘I’d put you up in the top 5% of people I ever talked to about computers,’” Allen said. “I thought that was nice to hear.”

“My best friend just moved to Florida — he calls me frequently and I connect to his computer and take it over from Pennsylvania,” he added. “I tell him not to click on too many emails — he seems to be too trusting with emails, and in this day and age, that’s not a great thing to do.”

Allen uses one of his own laptops to operate a bingo program for residents. He’ll remotely take over the Smart TV in the residents’ lounge and pull up the bingo numbers on the screen. “It’s fun for me. It’s interesting,” he said.

Allen earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial arts from a small college in California, Pa. (He said his “claim to fame” is that he lived in Jersey Shore, Pa., attended college in California, Pa., and retired in Dallas, Pa.)

“When I left for college, people asked me what it was like ‘out west,’” he joked, “or how it was at the shore this time of year. Jersey Shore, California and Dallas are all cities in Pennsylvania. I’ve been all around the U.S. and never left the Keystone state.”

Allen owns an Android Samsung flip phone, not an Apple iPhone. He doesn’t like that cell phones keep getting larger and larger. He mainly uses the phone for group text messages to family and friends. A judge at one of the precincts during local and national elections, he keeps in contact with his poll workers through group texts.

The Social Committee at Masonic Village often asks Allen to send out group emails when they want to notify residents about upcoming events.

“They like that I’m able to hide the individual email addresses,” he said. “I don’t like group emails where you see everyone’s email address, and someone wants to send the latest joke they just heard.”

Allen has seven or eight email addresses that he uses for different purposes. He has more than 50 different folders in Outlook, where emails are automatically sorted, so he can look at them at his leisure.

While most of the residents have smartphones or iPads, Allen said, they only know how to use it for basic things. As they start to work more with the devices, they run into hiccups and look for help but don’t want to spend a lot of money. That’s where Allen comes in.

“I never charge anyone anything,” he said. “Sometimes they’ll [residents] give me cupcakes or cookies, and that’s appreciated. But I’m always learning something, so it’s a pleasure really. It keeps my brain active, and I love it. I just enjoy doing it and helping people.”

Allen’s wife of 52 years graciously tolerates his compulsion to spend hours away from home helping others in the community.

“One resident had 28,000 unopened emails, and their computer was running slow,” he said. “We did some sorting and mass deletions. I helped him set up another email address just for junk emails. Sometimes you need to help people with their organizational skills.”

Another resident didn’t realize she had 50 websites open on her computer, with every one of them fighting to continually update, Allen said.

“We spent the next four to five minutes closing down all the pages,” he said. “Amazon Support couldn’t figure out what the problem was, but I did, and it worked.”

Allen enjoys his time at Masonic Village, where he has lived since 2012. He said he considers everyone part of a big family, and they all help each other out. Allen is also a longtime Mason and Past Master of Labelle Vallee Lodge No. 232, Jersey Shore.

Not only can he fix computers, but Allen was a licensed projectionist for many years. He assisted a multiplex theatre with removing their 35 mm film-based projector system and then installing and setting up the processing and projection equipment for digital content. He also worked as an automotive service advisor and licensed inspection mechanic.

“I always get a lot of questions from residents about cars and tires,” he said with a laugh. “I just like helping people any way I can.”