Obituary: Anne Allen, a Belmont ‘Matriarch’, Dies at 86.

Anne Allen, known as one of Belmont’s “matriarchs” who donated her family’s land to the town to preserve open space, died on Feb. 20, 2015.

She was 86.

A memorial service will take place on Feb. 27, which would have been Allen’s 87th birthday. The Belmont Board of Selectmen held a moment of silence in her memory at its Monday meeting, Feb. 23.

“Anne, or as we called her, Annie, was a gentle kind person who was always willing to help on any board that she served,” said Maryann Scali, a long-time friend and fellow Town Meeting member. 

“She was a friendly neighbor who welcomed people to stop by and say ‘hello’,” Scali said. “Her home was always filled with family and friends and was the proverbial meeting place for many organizations.”

Born in Cambridge, Anne was the youngest of four children of William and Helen (Atkins) Claflin, and the granddaughter of Edwin Atkins, the sugar tycoon who owned a great number of plantations in Cuba. 

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Anne Allen, (sitting on the lawn) as a child in the late-1930s with her family.

She and her siblings were raised at 531 Concord Ave., the prominent Elisha Atkins house built in 1840, and in the summers in Marion on Buzzards Bay. She was educated in private schools and attended college in California.

Allen married Eugene F. Allen who died several years ago. They did not have children together. She lived for many years at 580 Concord Ave., just down the road from her family’s homestead. She also lived for many years in Winchester.

Allen holds the distinction of being one of the first licensed occupational therapist in Massachusetts, issued license number 4.

Taking after her mother – who died in 1991 – Allen was interested in both the town and its governance. She “proudly served” 14 years as a Town Meeting member (see was re-elected in 2014) and was a member of the Belmont Women’s Club, Belmont Historical Society, Belmont Garden Club, the Belmont League of Women Voters, Friends of the McLean Hospital and Habitat for Humanities.

“She was very effective as a member of many ‘nominating committees’; when she asked you, you could not say ‘no’,” said Scali, who said one of her last requests was to be sure someone would continue observing the Belmont Housing Committee for the League of Women Voters in her place.

Her most prominent and permanent contribution to Belmont came in 2004 when she worked in collaboration with the Belmont Land Trust to preserve the “Maple Allee,” five acres of undeveloped land between Concord Avenue and Somerset Street. In 2012, land donated by Allen’s sister, Katherine Weeks, was combined and is now linked to both the 88-acre in the Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary as well as the 120 acres of town-owned land known as Rock Meadow and Lone Tree Hill.

“Open Space was a passion and she worked to preserved  open space wherever she could,” said Scali. 

Twice Allen was honored with the Historical Society’s David R. Johnson Preservation Award for the preservation of the Atkins-Claflin family greenhouse (used by the Garden Club for many years) and of the land surrounding her home at 580 Concord Ave.

She leaves sisters Katharine (Kitty) Weeks of Belmont and Helen C. Spring of Concord (she is predeceased by her brother, William H. Claflin, III) and 23 nieces and nephews and numerous grandnieces and grandnephews.

Allen’s Memorial Service will be held at First Church, Belmont, Unitarian, 404 Concord Ave. on Friday Feb. 27 at  11:30  a.m. 

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Anne’s memory to Seasons Hospice Foundation, 275 Grove St. Ste. 3-102, Newton, Mass 02466 or to the Belmont Historical Society, 336 Concord Ave. Belmont, Mass 02478, would be sincerely appreciated.  Arrangements by Short, Williamson & Diamond Funeral Home, Belmont.

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