Umbrella Bids Farewell to Our Dear Friend Allie Kussin
April 26, 2020 by Stewart Ikeda
The Umbrella community is saddened to announce the passing of recently retired Board Chair, Allie Kussin. After remaining isolated from her husband Fritz for weeks at Emerson Hospital, she was blessedly able to return home on March 31, and connect with family and friends until transitioning peacefully at 5:30PM on April 25, attended by her family and caregivers.
A therapist and counselor who also worked as an illustration artist, Kussin was an active supporter of town causes, working with the Cultural District, Chamber of Commerce Art Walk, and church and environmental and other nonprofit organizations.
Also a deeply devoted champion for The Umbrella, she chaired the Board of Directors for seven years during a time of major expansion.
"Allie was a positive force, central to building what The Umbrella has become," said Jerry Wedge, Executive Director. "She was loved throughout the community."
With an early background in English Literature, Allie was also an elegant writer and public speaker. In a letter to friends and family, she frankly and vividly shared her impressions of the end-of-life-preparation experience. She described learning of her terminal cancer diagnosis, and working her way toward "a deep, deep sense of calm"; the frustration of being unable to communicate back "the outpouring of love heaped upon me"; the elation during a temporary upturn: "Wow. I could speak again! It seemed like the River took a sudden surge through rapids and wheeee – here we go again!"
"I know I am seriously ill, but it doesn’t define me," Allie wrote, determined until the end that she would "choose to live from that place of being fully alive." She closed the letter with a poem of blessing by Jan Richardson, which we share below.
In an email, her family said that in her final hours, Allie had started to write a letter to friends.
"The last letter she started to write to you all—but that she wasn’t able to finish—ended with these words: 'I am looking forward to peace.' We trust that she is now in the center of it."
Photographs: Top: Allie Kussin pictured at opening night of 42nd Street in The Umbrella's newly constructed theater facilities, photographed by Nick Warchol; Bottom: Allie stands fittingly at the epicenter of the community celebration marking the Grand Opening of the expanded new Umbrella Arts Center that blossomed under her leadership, photographed by Marian Stanton.