Allison Woodall Eden, a longtime resident of the area, died May 5 from complications brought on by Alzheimer’s disease, with her husband Jim and devoted caregiver, Judy Nickell. at her side.
Allison was widely regarded as a wonderful woman with a keen mind, a gracious hostess, a feisty conversationalist, an avid hiker and tennis player, a tough bridge opponent, a hard-working board member, and, first and foremost, a dedicated wife and mother.
She grew up near Philadelphia in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, the oldest of the three children of H.R. (Woody) and Allison Woodall, Tennesseans who had been wooed north for Woody’s 43-year career with DuPont. Encouraged by her parents to study hard, Allison was a standout student at Penn State University, likely to be found during non-class hours playing bridge with her hair in rollers at the Chi Omega sorority house. Senior year she was voted Miss Penn State, presiding over Homecoming festivities.
Law school was her next goal, and she was accepted at University of Virginia Law school in 1963, the only female in her class. An administrator remarked that they let women in through the back door, which only served to fuel her resolve. Again she was a standout student and graduated in 1966 with accolades making a case for other female students to follow. She married a classmate, and moved with him to his hometown of Cincinnati where she passed the bar exam, but put the practice of law on hold for the career that was to be much nearer to her heart, the raising of their two sons, Dudley and Woody. The marriage did not last, but her motherhood career brought her joy all her days.
Within a few years after the divorce Allison met the love of her life, Jim Eden, and they married in 1976, merging their families. After resettling in Indianapolis, with children in school, Allison was able to re-commit herself to law, passing the bar exam and landing a position at a law firm where she was again a standout, though always available should a phone call come in from one of the children.
She rose to senior associate there, and once found out how thrilled the firm's partners were to have such a competent lawyer – a lawyer they felt they would never have to make a partner because she was a woman. She handled this chauvinistic attitude and other such challenges with grace and aplomb, but it wasn't until she began to do the legal work for her husband's retirement and assisted living businesses that she found a true career partner -- one who saw her not only as an integral part of his business' success, but also as a true equal. Such was the nature of love and respect she enjoyed in her forty-one year marriage to Jim Eden. As one of their colleagues put it: "No two people loved each other more, or better, than Allison and Jim."
She experienced love at first sight once in her life when she came to the Tetons. She and Jim made an annual visit to Jenny Lake Lodge where she loved hiking and horseback riding, and always made sure she had a good book to bring along on fishing days. They made a permanent home here in 1990, becoming involved in the local community through Teton Pines, the St. John’s Medical Center Foundation, the board of Community Safety Network, and anywhere there was a good bridge game to be found.
Allison is survived by her husband, sons Dudley Taft (Michelle) and Thomas “Woody” Taft (Jennifer) of Cincinnati and Mike Eden (Diana) of Jackson, daughter Molly Eden Hendrick (Tom) of Bronxville, NY; grandchildren Ashley, Kaitlyn, and Zoie Taft, Elizabeth and Weston Taft, Vivian and Henry Eden, and Jared, Shannon and Kevin Hendrick; and her brother Tom Woodall of Houston, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to St. John's Living Center. Checks can be made out to St. John's Hospital Foundation, and mailed to P.O. Box 428. Jackson, WY 83002. A summer memorial service is being planned. In the interim, condolences can be expressed to the family via valley mortuary's website.