Gloria Helen Allison, aptly known as “Glo” throughout her life, passed away peacefully in her home at Mary’s Woods the morning of Saturday, December 12th, surrounded by family (many by Zoom) and her beloved care team. She had turned 90 the week prior, having been born on December 5th, 1930, to Neil and Lanore Franke in the small town of Newton, Illinois. Gloria led a charmed life by nature of her very being, infusing light, generosity and kindness into her every day.
She spent her childhood in the warmth and safety of a very close extended family, spending most evenings sharing meals and adventures with her gang of cousins and friends. Her best friend was her older sister, Carolyn, to whom she remained deeply tied throughout their lives. Her dad, Neil (Pops) was the town dentist, and her grandfather was the town physician. She often recounted hiding under the bed whenever Grandpa was visiting with his little black bag to avoid the dreaded injections that were sure to come. Her days were full of imaginative play, a true free range childhood that we can only dream of for our kids today.
As she told it, in high school she fell down the stairs landing at the feet of that handsome Jimmy Allison. They became highschool sweethearts, and the rest is history. They wrote almost daily to each other during Jimmy’s four years in the Navy, and were married soon upon his return. They spent their shared lives raising their three kids Bryan, Gary and Mary, building strong communities, and demonstrating the joy and power of committed love. The majority of their years together were lived in San Bernardino, California where they fostered many deep and lifelong friendships and maintained deep ties to their Catholic congregation.
Glo worked many years helping with basic literacy in special ed programs in the San Bernardino School District. Her creativity and warmth enhanced many children’s educational experience and lives. Glo was also a dedicated and selfless caregiver to several family members across the years.
Gloria moved to Portland, Oregon to live near the family of her daughter Mary in 2003 following the loss of Jimmy (1930-1995) and her eldest son Bryan (1953-2003). There she spent the next many years cultivating new friendships and community, basking in the seasons and natural beauty of Oregon. She helped immensely navigating the lives of her granddaughters, but her days were also filled with the simplest and most profound pleasures: capturing the beauty around her through her photography, collecting leaves, rocks and weeds, developing friendships with the squirrels and birds in her backyard.
Glo moved to the community of Mary’s Woods in Lake Oswego in 2012. The next 8 years she benefited from the many levels of quality care and myriad life enhancement events. Her days were filled with exercise classes, spiritual growth, live music, and weekly sing alongs. She developed strong ties to both the residents and exceptional caregivers who learned to love both her eccentricities and effusive kindness.
Glo was deeply spiritual and strong in her faith throughout her life. She firmly integrated her Chrisitan beliefs into her daily life. This laid the foundation for her strong sense of social justice and fueled her passion for peace and equality.
Glo was always unapologetically herself. She scoffed at having to follow rigid societal norms, and was most comfortable pairing brightly colored dresses with clashing fun printed socks. Her greatest joy was sharing her abundant photos by covering every millimeter of wall space with the faces of her loved ones, eventually spilling out into the entryway of her studio for her neighbors to enjoy. She was fiercely accepting and non judgemental, and everyone around her felt her sincere investment and care for them. She taught us all about the power of unconditional love, forgiveness, and kindness. We will carry her light with us always.
She is survived by her adoring children Gary and Mary, children-in-law Gail, Becky and Ken; seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren; deeply connected communities of friends in California and Oregon; and a large extended family with whom she remained connected despite geographic distance. Lastly she is survived by the committed and compassionate family of caregivers at Mary’s Woods. The expertise and tenderness that was consistently offered to Glo during her last years was breathtaking. We are forever grateful to the many exceptional individuals that make up that team, and the loving connection they shared with Glo.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute to the Mary’s Woods Employee Education Fund:
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