On Thursday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m., a respectable crowd of familiar faces gathered at All Saints Church to say good-bye to Great Neck’s fiercest community advocate, Elizabeth Allen. To say that it was raining would be a serious understatement.
On a day that will be forever marked by wind gusts of angry rain uncommon for January, Allen’s estranged older sister, Patricia Dreyfuss, seemed to soften with the warm sentiments expressed by those willing to stand, soaked, on muddy church grounds to pay their respects.
For 20 minutes, while the Merchant Marine Academy’s Chaplain delivered his eulogy, which included Psalm 23, the heavens held back, as if to honor Allen as well. And when Dreyfuss spontaneously recited her sister’s beloved childhood bedtime prayer, those in attendance recognized that, in fact, an exquisite miracle had occurred.
One sister who was estranged from the other — for 30 years — appeared to have a breakthrough moment. It was unmistakable.
Funeral attendees stood transfixed as Dreyfuss recited the words: “Now, I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord, my soul to take. If I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord, my soul to take.”
At the completion of the formal eulogy, the Chaplain inquired if friends and decades-long neighbors had thoughts to express. What was easily agreed upon, was that Allen fought hard to preserve and protect nature and all living things.
No living thing was too small to garner her attention. She was passionate about her personal garden where she grew wild raspberries and currents. She made her own jam and stored them in mason jars, she prepared herself. She fed the birds daily.
And in her lifetime, Allen enjoyed the companionship of a dog, Bailey, and, more recently, a devoted cat. We learned that she had adored adventure and sailing. What was not said was that she was a devotee of Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue — they had the best peaches she would often tell me.
Allen, all agreed, was a brilliant, learned woman who could easily converse on any number of topics. It would be safe to say, that if you interacted with her, you came away a more informed, enlightened individual, possibly inspired to fight for the good of your community. This, I think, would please her very much.
The Elizabeth Anne Allen I knew was not an easy woman to know, but she inspired me greatly and, for this, I will be forever grateful. Sadly, she is gone too soon. There was so much more I wanted to learn.
“ Tag, you’re it, Elizabeth.” Rest in peace and rest assured, the community you loved and inspired will do you proud. You can count on it.