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Shelter Island Reporter obituaries: Allen, Kaasik, Simes

Robert J. Allen
Robert J. Allen

Robert J. Allen
Robert J. Allen, who spent summers with his family on Shelter Island since the 1970s, died at home in New York City on February 22, 2016.

Born in Flushing in 1930, Bob was a life-long New Yorker. He attended All Hallows High School in Brooklyn and graduated from Villanova University in 1951. After attending officer candidate school in New London, Connecticut, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy for three years during the Korean War. He spent his free time on board ship taking correspondence courses in journalism and art history and later earned a degree in philosophy from St. Paul College in Washington.

Returning to New York after the war, Bob worked as a co-producer of religious programs that aired on CBS-TV while completing a master’s in communications at New York University. In 1968 he joined the staff at PBS Channel 13 and then joined the Communications Department at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey where he taught for the next 35 years.

During his time at Seton Hall, Bob completed his Ph.D. at NYU and, especially on sabbaticals, wrote and produced educational films on a variety of subjects. He was most proud of a 13-part series titled: “Japan: The Living Tradition,” which was rerun on PBS for many years.

In 1962, Bob married Mary Elizabeth Holt of Ottawa, Canada. Their daughters, Barrie and Jennifer, were born in the 1960s. The family has always lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but Bob had visited friends on Shelter Island as a youth, prompting the family to summer here in 1970. Having fallen in love with the Island, Bob and Mary bought land on Serpentine Drive and built a home there that they lived in ever since.

Bob is survived by his wife, Mary Holt Allen, daughters Barrie and Jennifer Allen, grandchildren Nathan Wilson, Sarah, Phoebe and Leah Allen-Cheng and son-in-law Peter Cheng. Bob’s daughters have summered here every year since 1970 and his grandchildren have all called the Island their second home since birth. Also surviving are sisters Margaret Murphy and Mary Bock and brother William B. Allen, their spouses and many nephews and nieces.

Alice Kaasik
Alice Kaasik

Alice Kaasik
Alice Kaasik, known as Ollie to family and friends, passed away on Friday, February 19, 2016 at the Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in Manhattan. She was 62.

Alice was born on April 17, 1953 in West Islip to Evi and Joannes Kaasik, immigrants from Estonia who met in New York City and fell in love at first sight. Alice was the second of seven children.

Her parents and family moved to Shelter Island in 1967 where she graduated from high school in 1971. From here she went to Europe and studied psychology and graduated with a degree from the prestigious University of Helsinki in Finland.

She moved back to the U.S. in 1978 and settled in Pennsylvania.

Alice had a thirst for knowledge and enrolled at Temple University in Philadelphia where she gained another degree in accounting. She then became the comptroller at the Women’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In 1990, she felt she needed a change and took a position at the McClanahan Book Company in New York City. McClanahan went on to be one of the fastest growing children’s book publishers in the country.

In 1995, she briefly formed her own company, The Happy Bookkeeper. She was also employed for more than 20 years by Poets House and Bentley Meeker Lighting and Staging. She rarely took a vacation and not a single sick day until she became gravely ill. Both employers were at her bedside a few weeks ago, intensely loyal to her as she was to them.

The Happy Bookkeeper was the perfect name, family members said, since Alice made a point of being happy. She believed in it. She could always find the bright side of any situation (and make you feel better) and the good in almost every person, her family said.

She was gregarious, chatting freely with everyone she met. One friend remembers pushing Alice in a wheelchair down 14th Street: Ollie was greeted every few feet all the way across town by shopkeepers, residents, homeless people. Everyone knew her. She was so much at home in this world, her friend said, that she could make you feel at home, too.

She delighted in small pleasures: good friends, a bountiful yard sale or her chores. In the words of one of her colleagues, Ollie “was all vitality and pleasure and joy, in anything she did. A highlight of working with her was watching Ollie eat an orange, waving the rind to christen the air before she got to it. She took the time. Ollie taught me to focus on delight. What a treasure.”

In 2006, Ollie met the love of her life, Andrew Wainwright, a man she called her Santa Claus. In June 2013, they were married in a beautiful ceremony at the Manhanset Chapel.

She loved music, dancing and acting. Island residents may remember her performances in “Lively Ladies.” She taught herself to juggle and became Roony the Clown. She encouraged her husband Andrew to become a professional Santa, often appearing at his side as Mrs. Claus.

Ollie was a magic aunt to her nieces and nephews, who she cherished and adored. Family was always the cornerstone of her life. But wherever she went she made life-long friends, the grand attraction, the center of gravity in every community or space she entered.
Alice was predeceased by her mother Evi in 1981 and father Joannes in 2006.

In addition to her husband, Andrew, she leaves behind sisters Marian, Marika (Bill) and Veronica; brothers John (Anu), Karl and Marcus (Eda); nieces Evi Rose, Johanna, Katrina, Lisa and Serina; and nephews John, Nicholas and Phil.

There will be a gathering in  honor this Sunday, March 13, at 1:15 p.m. at Middle Collegiate Church, 50 East 7th Street (entrance on 2nd Avenue) in Manhattan.

Also, there will be a memorial service on Sunday, June 26, 2016 at the Manhanset Chapel.

Jeffrey R. Simes
Former Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jeffrey R. Simes of Margate, Florida, passed away on February 4, 2016. He was 74.

He was remembered by his family as a wonderful husband, brother, son and father who excelled in all these roles and laid the foundation for generations to come in modeling the way in life and in death.

Jeff was the oldest of four children of Henry and Barbara Simes. He grew up on the Island where he attended Shelter Island School though high school. Jeff held a variety of occupations throughout his life, including serving as a lead mechanic in the United States Air Force, a lead mechanic with Pan American Airlines, a police officer and chief, town supervisor, a commercial fisherman and — his favorite role — a thoroughbred horse owner and breeder.

Jeff was an extraordinary brother, his family said, to three wonderful sisters, Jane, Marty and Tina. As the oldest, he was a rock of support during the tougher times and a ray of sunshine during the great times.
He was married in 1966 to Estelle Simes whom he loved more than any words could express, his family recalled.

Those looking at it from the outside often said it was a true marriage made in heaven. Jeff and Estelle spent an extraordinary, happy life together laughing and enjoying every minute they had together.

Proud parent of three children, David, Robert and Craig, Jeff thoroughly loved being a father doing everything from coaching baseball, playing golf and finding time to just hang out and have a glass of Merlot with his family.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Estelle; his three sons, David (Suzanna), Robert (Nona) and Craig (Sara); and grandchildren Emma, Alex, Luke, Megan and Wyatt.