Samuel Francis Allison was born in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, on 19 September 1907, son of Dr. Herbert Allen Allison and Mrs. Rosa May (Wagner) Allison. He received his early education from the Susquehanna University Academy, in Selinsgrove, graduating in 1918, and after teaching in the Tioga County High School, Tioga Consolidated School District, and coaching basketball there, he returned to Susquehanna University, where he was a student and laboratory assistant for a year. After graduation in 1927, he attended George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC, from 1927 to 1930, during which period he was employed as a gas chemist at the National Bureau of Standards. He did postgraduate work and was a staff member of the Massachusetts Institution of Technology at Cambridge, receiving his Master of Science degree in 1932.
Accepting a commission in the United States Naval Reserve as Lieutenant (jg), effective 28 April 1941, he was employed by the US Patent Office. He was called to active duty on 29 May 1941, and was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant in 1942; to Lieutenant Commander on 1 March 1944; and to Commander, to date from 5 November 1945. He transferred from the Naval Reserve to the US Navy on 13 July 1946.
Reporting for active duty in the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, on 16 June 1941, he was employed in that Bureau until January 1947, during which period, throughout World War II and after the cessation of hostilities, he frequently travelled to various plants in the United States in connection with aircraft equipment. For three years thereafter he served with the Joint Research and Development Board, Washington, DC. He returned to the Bureau of Aeronautics in December 1949, and served until July 1951 as Program Information Specialist in the Industrial Planning Division. He then was under orders of 18 July 1951, to the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia.
Commander Allison had the American Defense Service Medal; the American Campaign Medal; and the World War II Medal.
Commander Allison was a member of the Alpha Chi Sigma, Phi Mu Delta, and Delta Theta Phi fraternities, and was a former president of the latter, a legal fraternity. He was also a member of the Washington Society of MIT.