Gerri Allsopp lived long, well, and true to the vitality and beauty she valued. Family focused her attentions. Music anchored her story. Optimism lead her way. Faith in God was her assurance. Last summer, at age 96, she informed piano students that she would be retiring to "take it easy."
On December 17, 2019, according to her wishes, she was at home and at peace when she passed on.
Geraldine Elizabeth was born to Claude and Elizabeth McCammon at home on Kirby Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, on February 23, 1923. In a span of 20 years, 6 siblings followed. Growing up during the depression meant financial struggles were common but she remembered disagreements were rare. Many evenings at home were musical, her father with his violin, Geraldine at the piano. Encouraging her talent, her mother took Geraldine to the Detroit Institute of Music where she earned a scholarship and continued developing musical artistry and skill. As an 18-year-old she began her teaching career, charging $0.50 for piano lessons. Graduating with honors from high school, she enrolled at Fordson Junior College in Dearborn for $25/semester. There, in an English literature class, she met Bill Allsopp, her "first and only" boyfriend. He routinely rode the street car with her to the institute of music then he would go to the Detroit library to study summaries of Shakespeare's works, soaking it up so much that their teacher accused him of cheating on their tests. Bill and Gerri's courtship intensified with time spent together and with their families. In 1943, the day after he became an ensign in the Navy, they were married. Together they orchestrated over 64 years of life together. Gerri saw Bill off and back from two wars. They worked together to ensure he earned his engineering degree and she, her music degree. They moved to Seattle with Bill's parents where Bill would begin his long and successful career as a Boeing engineer, flight instructor and test pilot. They decided on a lot in Normandy Park and built their dream home which included an apartment for Bill's parents. It was here that they raised their three children and happily welcomed neighbors and extended family and where Gerri continued to keep the music playing with piano practice, lessons, and recitals. She also kept beauty alive and well in the garden....Rhododendrons, roses, ferns, firs and more were lovingly touched (and ruthlessly pruned!) by Gerri's green thumbs.
In her last decade she stayed fit working in that garden year-round and practicing yoga at the YMCA 2 or 3 times a week. She enjoyed her beautiful home, taught piano and bridge to friends, directed and sang in choirs, cooked for family and friends, hosted meetings, parties, dinners, and recitals. She joined a march against gun violence and won an award for senior health and fitness. She enjoyed fellowship and worship at church. In her presence it was easy to feel her happy hospitality, kindness and acceptance. She consistently reached out to stay in relationship with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, memorizing family phone numbers and birthdays and lovingly sharing life. She encouraged all of us to focus on the positive, saving our worries for tough times instead of the unknown. When we think of Gerri, Mom, Grandma, Gigi, we feel the music. Her students carry it with them. All in her family have heard it since before they were born. It lives in us and we will forever be grateful for the legacy.
Gerri is survived by two brothers, Roger (Meg) and Ford (Mary), son, Craig, daughters, Sharyn (Malcolm) and Barbara (Shawn), grandchildren, Jonathan (Lindsey), Phillip (Robin), Victoria (Bobby), Libby (Nat), Grace (Max) and nine greatgrandchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for January 19th, 4:30 pm at Normandy Park United Church of Christ. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to:
NPUCC, Geraldine and William Allsopp Fund, mail to: NPUCC, 19247 1st Ave S., Normandy Park, WA, 98148.
OR to the Seattle Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) providing scholarships for local music students. Mail to: 13400 Dumas Rd, #E, Mill Creek, WA 98012.
"Never too busy for a warm hug and radiant smile. I first met Gerri at a Matt Griffin YMCA yoga class in about 2011. One day I noticed how beautiful her calf and foot were as she was doing a yoga pose. I thought, "Wow! She's in her 80s and has the most beautiful calf and foot!" One day she came to class with her pure white hair in a snazzy new haircut. She was in so many classes of mine and told me she came whenever she didn't have a piano class. One day, she was excited about having two 6-year-old twin boys as her new piano students! She was always excited about something. We went to many of Sharyn's & Torrie's concerts at her home and a church in north Seattle. For the latter, she asked us for a ride and we felt so honored, like we were escorting the queen. It was a cold winter evening, and when we got there she got out of the car with no coat. I asked her if she wanted to wear her coat and she said, "No, I want them to see my outfit." It was a stunning red holiday outfit. Another time, we invited two members of the royalty, Gerri Allsopp and our beloved yoga teacher Jenni Fish, to our home for a summer dinner on our deck. We had a scrumptious dinner prepared by my husband, Gaylloyd Sisson, and the three of them played cards. They asked me to join them but I don't play cards. I didn't want to feel abandoned so I did what any practical do-it-yourself remodeler would do, I went to the hardware store. When I returned, they didn't even know I'd left. I normally would leave my guests, especially Gerri and Jenni. I've never told anyone this story before. I could go on and on, but I love her deeply and she influenced me profoundly. I was so grateful to be able to hear and see more about her life, art and family in the Service of Remembrance at the Normandy Park United Church of Christ, which she and her husband Bill helped design and build. She and he also designed & built their stunning mid-century Normandy Park home. "
"She was always gracious and fun to be with. I will fondly remember many Sunday evening dinners and scrabble games. And concerts at her home. She truly enriched my life. I will always remember her with love and a smile."
"Gerri was a cousin by marriage and my much loved piano teacher.. I have very fond memories of Christmas Eve family gatherings where we sang and managed to dedicate the Hallelujah Chorus every year. She took it all into stride and laughed every year "