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Allene Robson

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Allene Robson

May 19, 1924 ~ May 31, 2013

Capturing the spirit of Allene Reich Robson in a few words is an impossible task. Quiet and unassuming, she nonetheless engaged fully with life from her first breath to her last, with myriad interests and a heart full of love. To describe her as a mother and homemaker and the person who managed the payroll for the family business doesn't begin to represent her. For decades, she enhanced church choirs with her beautiful voice, in addition to singing (and whistling) around the house, and also sang in a barbershop group. She didn't just sew; she quilted and tailored. She didn't just garden; she donated years of service to the Chicago Botanic Garden and, after moving to Washington in 1994, coordinated and hosted the Olympic Manor Garden Club sale, which provided scholarships for horticultural students at Edmonds Community College. She belonged to, and was an officer, in PEO, a philanthropic organization that supports women's education, aspirations, and achievement. Years of participating in Know Your Chicago programs, sponsored by the University of Chicago, gave her a wide and deep view of social issues, about which she cared profoundly. As a deacon at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Ballard, she accepted a variety of responsibilities, small and large. Always open to learning, she unfailingly characterized her accomplishments as nothing special.

Born in Moravia, Iowa, Allene experienced the lows of the Depression with a family that blew out of the Oklahoma dust bowl to land in Taos, New Mexico, where they began to build a new life. Taos remained important in the family narrative, and in 2008, Allene and her older sister, Virginia Reich Martin, made a trip to Taos with their daughters. From Taos the family moved to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where they established a restaurant called the Log Cabin Inn and later a lumberyard. After high school, she graduated from Colorado College with a degree in business affairs, money, and banking (her father's choice: she later said she would have loved to have been a children's librarian). Her background in practical matters, along with her Depression experiences, gave her the ability to manage money in two family businesses and for the household. She understood stocks as well as apples, and how to choose good ones in both cases.

Her children and grandchildren knew her as a reliable source of unconditional love, clear and thoughtful and accepting in a way that let them know she perceived their greatest potential, whether it had been manifested yet or not. We will miss her so much.

The daughter of Herschel Willard Reich and Louella Bertine Ellingboe Reich, Allene married William Wallace Robson, Jr., in 1947, and they celebrated 58 years of marriage before he died in 2005. She is survived by two daughters, Deborah Robson and Meg Robson Mahoney, her son-in-law Jake Mahoney, and three grandchildren, Rebekah Robson-May, Corey Caitlin Mahoney, and Conor Robson Mahoney. Remembrances may be made to Doctors without Borders, Feed the Children, or Evergreen Healthcare Hospice.
Published in The Seattle Times on June 9, 2013
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