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Anne Fowler Fincke Allison

January 8, 1929 - June 30, 2022

 

Anne was born in Manhattan, the only daughter of William Mann Fincke II and Mildred Gignoux. Her ancestors trace back to the Colonization of America, the earliest arriving in 1630 on the Winthrop Fleet that formed the core of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her early forefathers included prominent politicians, religious leaders, lawyers, doctors, judges, educators, and military officers. During and after suffrage, her foremothers included one of the first female attorneys in New York and a recognized artist and author. 

Anne descended from a line of distinguished educators and freethinkers. In 1924, her grandfather the Reverend William Mann Fincke and his wife Helen Hamlin founded Manumit School for Workers’ Children, a progressive Christian socialist boarding school in Pawling, New York. In 1933, when Anne was four, her parents assumed leadership of the school. In 1938 - 1939, Manumit took in at least 23 refugee Jewish children. Anne grew up at Manumit, an environment that valued liberal education, independent thought, social responsibility, hard work and appreciation of the arts.

Anne attended several prestigious colleges, Radcliffe College, Boston University and Mount Holyoke College before graduating from Olivet College in Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree. There she met her future husband, Glenn Stuart Allison. They married and moved to Chicago where Glenn attended graduate school at the University of Chicago, Theological Seminary before transferring to the School of Social Work. By the time he received his Masters of Social Work, they had two young children and many close friends.

They were financially poor, but their life was rich in laughter, music, intellectual stimulation, social engagement and cultural diversity. Their friends were accomplished and eclectic. They welcomed everyone of any race, religion, or sexual preference. Anne was an accomplished guitar player with a wonderful singing voice. Her repertoire was extensive and varied. She sang show tunes, folk music, spirituals, and protest songs. One of her favorites was “Lemon Tree.”

Anne loved children, her own and others. For a while she taught kindergarten in the Boston Public Schools. For an even longer time she provided childcare to her beloved Nadia, nicknamed “Noodle”. She read children’s books and played games, made handicrafts and Christmas decorations, dyed Easter eggs, and created Halloween costumes. She liked puns and knock-knock jokes. She threw the best children’s birthday parties!  

Anne moved back to Cambridge to live with her mother after divorcing in 1963. After struggling for many years with mental illness and addiction to alcohol and medications that were prescribed for her, Anne was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous by her father. It changed and no doubt saved her life. By the time of her death, she had been sober for fifty years. Her many friends in AA were central to her long life and well-being. They supported her sobriety, but the journey was her own and required tremendous courage and fortitude. Alcoholics Anonymous enabled Anne to make amends with her children, Lesley and Glenn, and to meet and love their spouses, Pat Smith and Heidi Winston. Also, to know her two beloved grandchildren, Shawn Loescher and Sarah Winston-Allison, and to celebrate the lives of her four great grandchildren, Yanna, Ainsley, Riley and Ella. She loved hearing about her great grandchildren and looking at their pictures.

In AA, Anne met the man who became her best friend and life partner, John Hallowell. They were not romantic partners; but they lived together and cared for one another in mind, body and spirit.  They supported each other and helped each other stay sober. John shared Anne’s high intelligence, keen wit and irreverent sense of humor. Anne and John both loved reading the classics, particularly the works of Dickens, but also had a great love for modern writing including an affinity for the works of Gore Vidal. They enjoyed movies and theater and shared a friendship with Angela Lansbury. They were a family by choice, not birth or marriage. Their unwavering devotion to one another was both admirable and enviable. When John was no longer able to care for Anne, she moved to Neville Center at Fresh Pond, one of the finest care facilities in Cambridge. He took the bus to visit with her regularly until he, in turn, needed assistance with daily living and joined her at Neville Center, where they lived until John died on Christmas Day 2014. For the next eight years, Anne wore black because she was still in mourning for John. She had no doubt that he was waiting for her.

The family wishes to express profound gratitude to the staff at Neville Center at Fresh Pond, where Anne spent her final 12 years. They dubbed her “Queen of the Third Floor” and she embraced the role. She was not always easy, but she was always treated with dignity, compassion and understanding. Special thanks to Awa, Alfred and Dr. Burling, and to the other nurses, CNAs, activity therapists and others who cared for Anne with extraordinary kindness.

Although it is hard to claim that the death of a 93 -year-old is “unexpected”, it was sudden. Thankfully she passed quickly and peacefully. Family and loved ones did not have the opportunity to say goodbye, but goodbyes were never easy for Anne. We mourn her loss, but remain grateful that she was a part of our lives. All those whose lives Anne touched inevitably became richer for it, if not at first then at last, because Anne passed on the many lessons that she learned on the “road less traveled by”– and that, as Robert Frost noted, made all the difference. We can hear her voice now, although at a greater distance, sending us all “lots, and lots, and lots of love” . . . and meaning every word of it, as she always did

Comments   
# Shawn Loescher, EdD 2022-07-20 01:59
In memoriam of the passing of my brilliant grandmother Anne Fowler Fincke Allison. Well ahead of her time, she blazed through life as a comet in the eastern sky on a pristine night. Even now, as I see her photo, I am reminded of a line from one of the authors of her generation. Kerouac penned . . .

"I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, stabilized-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives"

As outline in this wonderful obituary tribute, she was an explorer of the road less traveled, whose epic journey ultimately enriched our lives and understanding of humanity, your proud grandson’s only hope is that you have been met with the warm embrace of how you closed each of our interactions . . . with “lots and lots and lots of love.”
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