OBITUARY: Clara Knox Allison


Clara Knox Allison passed away peacefully on Sunday, September 3, 2023 at her residence in Nashville, Tennessee.

Clara Knox was born to Ruth Gardiner Knox and William Hugh Knox Jr. in Nashville on the 23rd of August, 1925. She celebrated her 98th birthday shortly before her death.

She was baptized in Christ Church, now the Episcopal Cathedral. The little red-haired girl with curls and freckles soon grew into a talented ballerina under the tutelage of her revered ballet mistress, Albertine Maxwell.

Childhood days were spent riding her pony, Cricket, or splashing in the Little Harpeth River’s swimming hole near the old Knox-Crockett Farm, with her younger brother, Bill Knox. Clara developed a talent for the game of tennis, which she learned on their backyard dirt court. She especially loved her summers as a Valkyrie at Camp Nakanawa in Mayland, Tennessee.

Her schooling included the Parmer School, Hillsboro and Ward Belmont schools and Vanderbilt University from which she graduated in 1947 with a BA in Mathematics.

It was there that she met an attractive young medical student, Fred Allison. With a diploma in hand and characteristic determination Clara followed her dream to dance on the stage in New York City, where she performed with a dancing troupe on the first Ed Sullivan Show and danced in two Broadway plays. Meanwhile Fred, having finished Medical School, moved to Fort Dix in New Jersey, and the two reconnected, romantically, under the clock at the Waldorf Astoria.

They subsequently married at Christ Church in Nashville in 1949, and moved to Fred’s Harvard Medical School training at “The Brigham.” They then found their way to New Orleans, St Louis, Jackson MS, New York, a return to New Orleans where Fred was Head of the Department of Medicine at the LSU Medical School for many years, and finally back to Nashville and Vanderbilt. Each of their four children was born in a different city. Their marriage was a joyful one filled with love shared generously with their children, family and friends.

While in Mississippi Clara taught ballet and was co-founder of the Jackson Ballet Guild. She and Fred were charter members of the River Hills Tennis Club and Clara enjoyed becoming a member of the Junior League of Jackson. Clara later became a successful real estate agent in New Orleans and acquired a knack for creating fabulous Louisiana cuisine and providing delightful hospitality. She was a member of the Colonial Dames of America and the Nashville Centennial Club.

Clara was predeceased by her husband, Fred Allison, Jr. MD, and is survived by Rebecca Knox Allison Parsley (m. Bishop Henry Nutt Parsley, Jr), Martha Bell Allison Brown (m. Francis Scott Brown, deceased), Fred Allison III (m. Carol Hilliard Allison) and Robert Gardiner Allison, deceased (m. Elizabeth Zagatta Allison) and six grandchildren: Henry Nutt Parsley III (m. Elizabeth Pollitt Parsley), William Knox Allison, Elizabeth Kelly Allison, Frances Gardiner Allison, Charlotte Elizabeth Allison, and Jacqueline Rosanne Allison. Clara was very fond of her many extended Knox and Allison family members.

Her family is very grateful for the excellent care provided by nurses Jan Norby and Jen Walker, Alive Hospice, Senior Helpers, grandson William, and the prayers and presence of family, friends and the 3rd Floor Elevator Ladies at Richland Place.

Services will be held for Clara at 10:30 am on Thursday, October 5th, at Christ Church Cathedral, with burial at Mt. Olivet. Memorial contributions may be made to Christ Church, 900 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Allison family.


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