Remembering the Life of Allison Fox

By Laura Gang, Ally Romanes, and Herbert Ford on June 8, 2023

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Pacific Union College and the Angwin community are deeply saddened by the loss of Allison Fox, PUC alum, access services librarian, and Honors program director, who passed away surrounded by her family on May 9 in Angwin, California.

“Allison did a fantastic job taking care of our Honors students and making sure they had a great academic experience at PUC,” said Milbert Mariano, PUC vice president for academic administration and academic dean. “She did an excellent job preparing each of our students for the life of a Christian scholar. I am proud of the work she did and know many will miss her zest for life greatly.” 

Fox was born at St. Helena Hospital to Cheryl and Chuck Fox. She grew up in Angwin, along with sisters Heidi and Lizzie. She attended both PUC Elementary and PUC Preparatory Academy and was a lifelong member of the PUC Church. 

When she started college at PUC, Fox was a student worker for two years in the campus bookstore. She then worked for two more years at the Nelson Memorial Library, often in the archives with the Walter Utt collection. In 2001, she graduated from PUC with a B.A. in English.

Fox moved away from her hometown to do graduate work. She earned two master’s degrees, one in English from San Diego State University and a Master of Science in library and information science from Simmons College.

In 2012, Fox returned to PUC as an adjunct professor for the department of English. No one was more surprised about the move back than Fox herself.

“Growing up here meant I hadn’t the slightest intention of returning to the college for work,” Fox said in an interview earlier this year. “But I found myself back in Angwin, largely through the caprice of California’s economy, and people kept offering me jobs.”

Not long after returning to PUC, she accepted the call to become the access services and information literacy librarian at Nelson Memorial Library—where she had worked as a student.

Library Director Patrick Benner said that Fox returned to PUC at a time when three staff members had retired, and new librarians were needed. It seemed providential that Fox had earned one of her master’s degrees in library science in her time away. She was technically qualified for the position, but it was more than that.

“She was always fun to teach with before and had a wonderful way of connecting with students,” Benner said in a written tribute about Fox. “We knew she would add a lot of flavor to the library staff.”

Fox felt blessed that many of her PUC colleagues were also dear friends. “I work with so many fantastic people!” she said. “It’s really lovely to work with people who are [not only] invested in scholarly pursuits, but who are also kind and fun.”

As a librarian and avid reader, she was asked if she’d read any books more than once. “Anything to do with books is an enormously difficult question for a librarian and English professor,” Fox said. “I have read The Lord of the Rings trilogy twice, and I was as delighted the second time as the first.”

Fox always enjoyed working with students as a librarian. She said teaching was a level of contact that was even more immediate and direct—a pure joy for her. The experience of teaching confirmed that her passion was working with students. 

In 2020, Fox took on the additional role of becoming director of the Honors program at PUC. She could divide her professional life between library work, advising students, and teaching Honors seminar courses. “It’s perfect for an inherently restless, intellectually voracious person like me,” Fox said. 

Benner said that Fox’s office in the library was a center of activity for students. “Often peels of laughter and enthusiastic conversation could be heard wafting out past the time clock behind the wall of the big TV screen in the lobby,” he recalled.

But in March of this year, the happily busy corner of the library was hushed as Fox went on medical leave. At Fox’s request, Mariano stepped in to lead the Honors program in her absence.

Just two months later, Fox passed away. 

The campus, church, and members of the Angwin community were brokenhearted to lose such a vibrant and dynamic person. On May 15, students, friends, colleagues, administration, faculty, staff, and family informally gathered in the Alice Holst Theater to remember Fox.

“As a community, we came to support one another and reflect on how Allison touched our lives in so many unique ways,” Benner said in his written tribute. 

After sharing anecdotes and tributes to Fox, the gathering closed with Katie Sculatti singing What a Friend We Have in Jesus, followed by a slideshow showing the many aspects of life that she lived. 

Fox loved her work as a librarian and teacher. In addition to her many talents, she was an accomplished equestrienne—she learned to ride before she could read. Fox loved traveling to new places but also enjoyed staying home and making fancy cups of coffee in her pajamas on a lazy Sunday. She loved the gorgonzola cream gnocchi at her favorite Napa Valley restaurant, Cook. She loved her tuxedo cat, Ismene. 

But most importantly, Fox loved people—family, friends, students, and colleagues at PUC. 

“It’s hard to imagine no longer seeing her outrageous outfits or hearing her loud cackles ringing across the library lobby,” Benner said. “She touched many lives at many levels. She will be missed.”