Mrs. Allison Jennings McCance, beloved wife of Henry F. McCance, peacefully passed away at her home in Mountain Lake, Lake Wales, FL on January 15, 2023, from complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. She was surrounded by her family and beloved caregivers.
Allison Jennings was born in New Canaan, CT on June 29, 1942. Allison was a graduate of Abbott Academy and Sweet Briar College. From 1967 to 1975, she worked, first as a grader, and then as Associate for Special Projects at Harvard Business School. She married Henry F. McCance on May 22, 1972.
Allison always looked at life and at each day with “the glass half full.” She was nicknamed “sunny” as a child, and that captured her personality. She carried these traits even through the heart of her battle with Alzheimer’s, always finding something nice to say to every person she saw, even when she could no longer remember their name or how she knew them.
Allison had an outstanding career as a tennis and paddle tennis player. At Sweet Briar, Allison won the 1963 Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Women’s Doubles Championship. She was ranked #1 in Women’s Tennis Doubles in New England in 1972,1974, and 1975. She played on the professional Paddle Tennis circuit from 1976 – 1981 and was ranked nationally each year among the top 10 Women’s Doubles teams with three different partners. In 1977, Allison was a semi-finalist in the Tribuno Professional Platform Tennis World Championship, played at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. In 1978, Allison was a semi-finalist in both the Women’s Platform Tennis National Championships, and the National Platform Tennis Mixed Doubles Championship. After she retired from national tournaments, Allison won over 30 tennis and paddle tennis titles at the Dedham Country and Polo Club, in Dedham, MA and over 10 tennis and paddle tennis titles at The Country Club in Brookline, MA. She also played on The Country Club Division “A” team in the Dorothy Bruno Hills Indoor Tennis League, from 1987 to 2006. Allison was known widely for her competitive spirit, her unwavering sportsmanship and her loyalty to her teammates.
Allison was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2000. She continued playing for The Country Club well into her 60’s and well into her Alzheimer’s Disease. Even if she couldn’t remember the score, Allison could put a backhand winner down the line or a volley away. She loved racquet sports and was happiest hitting a ball.
Allison gave back to the sports she loved. She served as a Board Member of both the American Platform Tennis Association, and of the USTA/ New England Tennis Association. In 1993, led by Allison, the McCance family received the USTA/New England Edwin Godman Family of the Year Award, given to the family as a group which has contributed the most to tennis in New England. In 1997, Allison received the USTA/New England Gardner Chase Memorial Award for lifetime contributions to tennis in New England.
Allison loved to cook and entertain. She was a creative spirit in the kitchen, always trying new recipes on her family. She co-authored, with Judy Duncan, The Clock Watcher’s Cookbook, published by Yankee Press in 1983. As part of her book tour, she received the opportunity to meet and be briefly interviewed by one of her cooking icons, Julia Child. Allison also loved to read. With several of her best friends, she co-founded a very successful book club in Greater Boston that continues today.
Allison’s bout with Alzheimer’s Disease was the inspiration for her husband to co-found the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund in 2004. This non-profit uses a venture capital model to fund research with the highest probability of preventing, slowing or reversing Alzheimer’s Disease. In 18 years, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has funded over $170 million in research grants to leading researchers around the world.
Allison was also the inspiration for the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health at Mass General Hospital. Founded in 2018, the Center harnesses multidisciplinary neuroscience knowledge and expertise to promote brain health and prevent neuroscience diseases from occurring in the first place.
Allison will be remembered for her loyalty and devotion to her family and friends. There was not a single day that her family didn’t know where they stood on her priority list. She absolutely loved being a wife and a mother – and the joy and energy she received from this part of her life was contagious and will be a large part of her legacy. Between Boston, Fishers Island, NY, and Mountain Lake, FL, Allison also had many lifetime friends who will fondly remember her laugh and smile, her generosity of time and spirit, her positive attitude and her joy in living each day to the fullest.
She is survived by her husband and loving partner of 50 years, Henry; her daughter and son in law, Ellen McCance Pinschmidt and Patrick Pinschmidt of Dublin, Ireland, her stepdaughter, Elizabeth McCance of Fairfield, CT; six grandchildren, Jack, Leah, Clara, and Callan Pinschmidt, and Phoebe and Sadie McCance; as well as her brother and sister-in-law, Keith and Bev Jennings of Philadelphia, PA and Hilton Head Island, SC.
Contributions in memory of Allison can be made to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund in Wellesley, MA.
A service in celebration of Allison’s life will be held on Fishers Island this summer.