Anna Lee Carey Van Allen, 97, died peacefully at Pomperaug Woods, Aug. 14, near Naugatuck, her home for 65 years. Born Aug. 9, 1920 in Rose Valley, Pa., to Jessie and Harry Lee Carey, she attended Friends Central School and graduated from William Woods College ’40 and Penn State University ’42, where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, a journalism major and among a minority of women attending college in that era.
She dedicated her life to raising five children and volunteering for her community in extraordinary ways. With her husband, Robert William Van Allen, she founded the United Way of Naugatuck in 1962. She was honored by that organization in 2007 with a community service award named “The Van Allen Medal” in honor of her and her late husband, who both served as board members and president for years. That award is still given each year to an outstanding volunteer.
A deeply spiritual person, she held many roles at the Naugatuck Congregational Church for over 60 years including: the first woman moderator, president of the Litchfield District and State Women’s Fellowship, chair and member of the diaconate, Sunday School teacher, and chair of the 200th anniversary celebration. She especially loved organizing events such as jumble sales, fairs and potluck dinners with her best friend, Sarah Buell.
Keenly interested in local politics, she was elected a senior burgess of Naugatuck and served as acting mayor of the town. Her grandchildren still have campaign buttons with the slogan “ALVA for Burgess!” an acronym that persisted for the rest of her life. She was on the Park Board Commission, the Environmental Advisory Board, the Human Resources Committee, the Youth Advisory, Public Safety Committee for fire and police, and served as the Constitutional Bicentennial chair. She also ran in 1971 as a Republican for state representative and served on the State Board of the Connecticut Girl Scout Council, and Chairperson of the Naugatuck Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Always ready to volunteer for any good cause, she chaired and was a lifetime member of the Women’s Study Club; she served on the boards of the Child Guidance Clinic, the Waterbury Hospital Auxiliary, the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra, and the Environmental Commission. She served as chair of the Coordinating Center for Women, which offered resources to local churches to address women’s issues such as breast cancer, victims of abuse and education for young teenagers.
Above all, she treasured time with her husband and family. She loved planning celebrations on every holiday and birthday well into her 80s, and organized picnics and sing-alongs with her children and a large extended circle of close friends in Naugatuck. She and Robert traveled all over the world with Sarah and Sherman Buell. For more than 73 years, she and her family spent summers on the beach in Quonochontaug, R.I., enjoying the simple pleasures of swimming, biking, canoeing, clamming, and hosting large gatherings of children and grandchildren. Everyone was given chores and any outstanding deed or small kindness was given an “attagirl “or “attaboy” award. Her favorite phrase was “You can do anything you think you can do!”
Her husband Robert, died in 2004 after 63 years of marriage. She leaves four daughters and a son, Patricia Van Allen Voigt of Philadelphia, Pa., (Fred); Lee Van Allen Roberts of Katonah, N.Y., (Ken); Margaret Van Allen Albert of Wareham, Mass., (David); Beth Van Allen Van der Veer (Paul) of Marion, Mass.; and R. Mark Van Allen of New Haven, (Jane). She has 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 at the Naugatuck Congregational Church, Naugatuck at 3 p.m. The Alderson-Ford Funeral home of Naugatuck is assisting with arrangements.
Donations in her memory may be made to: The United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls, 284 Church St, Naugatuck, CT 06770, or to The Naugatuck Congregational Church, 9 Division St., Naugatuck, CT 06770.
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