Nancy Allen

June 29, 1918 - February 22, 2010

Nancy Brandon Allen, 91, of Batavia, Illinois, whom the Chicago Tribune (5/28/1989) named "Actress, Scholar, Story Teller, Wit"*, died peacefully at the home of her son, Rod and Maureen Allen, on Monday, February 22, in Saint Charles, Illinois.Nancy was born on June 29th, 1918, at Mooseheart, Illinois, the "Child City" her father helped found in 1913. She was the third daughter of Rodney and Harriet Brandon. Nancy graduated from Emma Willard School and Vassar College in 1939. She studied acting and costume design under John Houseman at the Vassar College Experimental Theater, and for a short time after graduation designed costumes in professional theater in Chicago. In 1940 she married Ami F. "Jack" Allen, a graduate of the University of Chicago and its Law School. They were married 67 years and raised six sons, of whom she wrote, "My six children were my greatest accomplishment and my career." In 1947, Nancy helped found the League of Women Voters of Batavia. During her 50 years on the LWV board, she worked passionately for the Fair Housing ordinance in Batavia, the Batavia Park District and the Kane County Health Department. She was a prodigious reader and welcome book reviewer, particularly of Faulkner, for Batavia's Books Between Bites luncheons. Nancy hosted poetry readings for students and taught the Great Books course in her home. She was a devoted lifelong member of Calvary Episcopal Church in Batavia, where she was baptized, married, raised her boys, and worshipped until her final days.Nancy and Jack, with others from St. Charles and Geneva, co-founded the Playmakers theater group which was active in the Fox River Valley for over 50 years. Nancy acted in, directed and costumed plays, acting as Costume Director until 1985. Her extensive collection of clothes, fashions, accessories and costumes filled the large attic of their family home, and for years "Nancy's Attic" was a valuable resource for individuals and community groups. In 1985 Nancy began a new career as lecturer/producer with "Politics and Petticoats," her fashion show, which entertained and educated Chicago area audiences on the history of women's rights and fashion.From the time Nancy was a little girl, she was a frequent traveler to Europe. Her encyclopedia-like mind embraced its art, literature, history and architecture, and she shared her knowledge and enthusiasm with her friends and family and inspired them to pursue their own world travels. This interest in other cultures was a factor in their hosting foreign exchange students from Brazil and Nigeria. In the 1970's, Nancy and Jack also opened their home and hearts to two South Vietnamese refugees, De Ma and Tom Van Pham, who have become part of the family.Nancy is survived by six sons: Jont (Pat) of Mahomet, Illinois; Peter (Sally) of Ann Arbor, Michigan; Mark (Terry) of Batavia; Davis (Penny) of St. Louis, Missouri; Rodney (Maureen) of St. Charles; and Lane (Rebecca) of Batavia; plus 18 grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. Nancy was preceded in death by Jack and her two sisters, Jean Burton and Adele Brandon. The family is especially grateful to Dr. Paul Chiang of Homecare Physicians, and Beth Kennedy, Leigh Kramer, and Linda Gabalec of CNS Hospice for their devoted care.Visitation will be held 4-9 P.M. Friday, March 5, 2010 at Moss Family Funeral Home, 209 South Batavia Ave. in Batavia, Illinois. Funeral services will begin 10 A.M. Saturday, March 6, 2010 at Calvary Episcopal Church at 222 S. Batavia Ave., Batavia, IL. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to Calvary Episcopal Church, the Batavia Public Library, or any chapter of the League of Women Voters.

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