Allison Jennings was born in New Canaan, CT, on June 29, 1942. A graduate of Abbott Academy and Sweet Briar College, Allison worked from 1967-1975, first as a grader and then as an Associate for Special Projects at Harvard Business School. She married Henry F. McCance, of Greylock Ventures, on May 22, 1972.
Keenly capturing her personality, Allison was nicknamed Sunny as a child and always looked at life and each day with optimism. Through the heart of her battle with Alzheimer’s, Allison displayed these traits, always finding something nice to say to every person she encountered, 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. While at Sweet Briar, she won the 1963 Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Women’s Doubles Championship. Allison 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 each year nationally among the top 10 Women’s Doubles teams while playing 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 the Women’s Platform Tennis National Championships and the National Platform Tennis Mixed Doubles Championship. After retiring from national tournaments, Allison won more than 40 tennis and paddle tennis titles at the Dedham Country and Polo Club in Dedham, MA, and 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. Throughout her sports career, Allison was known widely for her competitive spirit, unwavering sportsmanship, and loyalty to her teammates.
In the year 2000, at the age of 58, Allison was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She continued playing for The Country Club well into her 60s and during the progression of the 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.
Giving back to the sports she loved was important to Allison. She served as a Board Member for the American Platform Tennis Association and 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 that 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.
Entertaining and cooking also brought joy to Allison. She was a creative spirit in the kitchen, always trying new recipes with her family, and co-authored The Clock Watcher’s Cookbook with Judy Duncan, published by Yankee Press in 1983. As part of her book tour, Allison met and was briefly interviewed by one of her cooking heroes, Julia Child. With a passion for books and reading, Allison and several of her best friends co-founded a very successful book club in Greater Boston that continues today.
In 2004 during the early stages of the disease, Allison became the inspiration for her husband, Henry, to co-found Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. The non-profit uses a venture capital model with a mission to fund research with the highest probability of preventing, slowing, or reversing Alzheimer’s disease. Since its inception, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has awarded more than $170 million in research grants to 250 of the world’s leading researchers. Allison was also the inspiration for the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health at Massachusetts General Hospital. Founded in 2018, the Center harnesses multi-disciplinary neuroscience knowledge and expertise to promote brain health and prevent neurological diseases from occurring in the first place.
Allison will be remembered for her loyalty and devotion to her family and friends. 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 part of her everlasting legacy. Allison’s many lifetime friends from Boston, Fishers Island, NY, and Mountain Lake, FL, will fondly remember her laugh and smile, generosity of time and spirit, positive attitude, and 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.
Private services to honor and celebrate Allison’s life will be held this summer on Fishers Island. Contributions in memory of Allison may be made on this website https://curealz.org/giving/donate/; please place the name Allison McCance in the tribute section of the form. If you would like to send a message to Henry please use Henry@CureAlz.org or by regular mail to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, attention Henry McCance, 34 Washington Street, Suite 310, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481. Thank you.