Alycia Long Allen, Forest Ridge high-school director, dies at 56
Students at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bellevue will gather this morning in prayer and remembrance of Alycia Long Allen...
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
Students at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bellevue will gather this morning in prayer and remembrance of Alycia Long Allen, the high-school director.
Ms. Allen, 56, of Seattle, died Tuesday night after attending a Christmas party with the Forest Ridge high-school staff.
Ms. Allen, who graduated in 1969 from Forest Ridge, an all-girls Catholic school, is remembered by her family and longtime friends as a woman who loved the arts and was dedicated to educating the next generation of students.
"She understood what it was like to be a young woman; she understood the strengths and challenges of that, and she never lost sight of either one," said Sharon Lee, who first met Ms. Allen when they were both freshmen at Forest Ridge. "For her, it was all about the girls, helping them open up and find their voices."
Ms. Allen, who lived in Seattle, also served as first director of the Experience Music Project's summer arts camp before taking over as the high-school director for Forest Ridge in 2001. Before that, she taught at Chapel Hill High School in North Carolina for nearly 20 years.
She was an educator who always put herself last, said Susan Long-Walsh, Ms. Allen's sister. She was divorced years ago and never had any children of her own. But when asked, Ms. Allen would say that she had 160 children — the number of students enrolled in Forest Ridge's high school.
"She felt responsible for them all," Long-Walsh said.
Forest Ridge, which was founded more than 100 years ago on Capitol Hill, moved to Somerset Hill in Bellevue in 1971. The college-preparatory school serves about 400 students in grades five through 12.
Ms. Allen was feeling dizzy Sunday and had an appointment to see her doctor Thursday, Long-Walsh said.
On Tuesday, Ms. Allen attended the Christmas party, laughing with staff and enjoying herself, said Mary Magnano Smith, the head of Forest Ridge. But when Ms. Allen didn't come to work the next day, the school's staff grew concerned. Her family called 911 when they couldn't reach her, and medics found her body at her home. The King County Medical Examiner's Officer is awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
On Wednesday night, more than 60 family members and friends gathered at Long-Walsh's home to remember Ms. Allen.
"We were telling stories and remembering her," Long-Walsh said. "She was the glue that brought everyone together."
Recently, Ms. Allen had suggested to her family that instead of exchanging gifts for Christmas, they donate new blankets to St. Martin de Porres in Seattle, which operates a homeless shelter.
Long-Walsh said she believes Ms. Allen would have liked people to remember her by donating blankets to the shelter, in purple if possible — Ms. Allen's favorite color.
"Then, if you ever see someone sleeping in a doorway with a purple blanket, you'd know it was a 'Ms. Allen' blanket," Long-Walsh said.
Services are pending.
Ms. Allen is survived by her mother, Ineva Hughes; her father and stepmother, Roy Long Sr. and Joyce Long; three brothers, Rod Long, Chris Long and his partner Antoinette DeSantos, and Roy Long Jr. and his wife Rosie; two sisters, Susan Long-Walsh and her husband, John, and Metre Long Wishom and her husband, Clyde; two stepsisters, Janis Murray and Sheila Murray; three nieces and nine nephews. All are from Seattle except the Wishoms, who are from San Diego.
Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or email@example.com
In the original version of this story, the name of one of Ms. Allen's survivors, Metre Long Wishom, was misspelled.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 6:15 AM
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