Rebecca Brown Allison

April 29, 2024

CHARLOTTE – Rebecca “Becky” Allison passed away peacefully April 29, 2024, at the age of 99, surrounded by family and the photos and mementos of a life well lived.

Known as “Granny” by her eleven grandchildren and seventeen great-grandchildren, she was kind, curious, a good listener, and a trusted counsel and comfort across the generations. Although her primary love was being with her family, she was an earnest ambassador of goodwill at Sharon Towers, a facility the Allison family helped found with other leaders in the Presbyterian community of Charlotte in 1969. It was her home of twenty-one years and over those years she made it a point to meet new residents, invite them to join her for meals and introduce them to the community.

Rebecca Jane Brown was born November 8, 1924, in Chattanooga, TN, the daughter of the late Gaithor Wright Brown and Sue Lowry Brown. She attended Central High School in Charlotte, graduated from Spring City High School in Spring City, Tenn. and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Becky was one of the “girls of Atomic City,” among the hundreds of teenaged girls and young women, mostly from the South and Midwest recruited to work on the World War II Manhattan Project at the secret rural Tennessee location that later became the city of Oak Ridge. “It was quite a time,” she said once. “We had no idea about the project except for our own job and we were sworn to keep it all secret, even from each other.” 

At age 20 in 1944, Becky began working as an assistant for the Tennessee Valley Authority on the floating food laboratory, which she called “the barge”. TVA built the platform and the technology with the University of Tennessee to research food processing, including the development of “quick freezing” of fruits and vegetables for storage and transport to market.

On August 7, 1945, she married her high-school sweetheart, James Robert Allison of Charlotte during his two-week leave from the Army enroute to the war in the Pacific. With the dropping of the bombs on Japan, the war was over, and they were free to move to Charlotte and then on to Chapel Hill to continue their education and begin their sixty-two-year marriage.

During her married life, Becky ran a busy household in Charlotte while Jim served as President, Chairman and CEO of Allison Erwin Co., a major wholesale distribution company that operated throughout the South. Together, the couple traveled extensively in the US and in Europe and the Pacific.

She spent many happy summers at the family’s vacation home in Montreat, NC, where she was active in the Mountain Retreat Assn. and served as a volunteer at Ten Thousand Villages, a craft store specializing in handmade items from developing countries.

Becky was an elder in the Presbyterian Church, a Charter member of Covenant Presbyterian Church and member of the Charlotte Miniature Society. She was a longtime volunteer at the Presbyterian Hospital, the Red Cross Blood Bank, and on election day at Charlotte’s Precinct 48. She was a library volunteer, knitter, game player and an avid shopper at the “Treasure Chest” thrift store at Sharon Towers.

She was predeceased by her husband, James Robert Allison on November 22, 2007, her son, William Wright Allison, June 5, 1954, and her brother, Gaither Wright Brown Jr., November 17, 2017.

She is survived by her four children, Sue Allison Herring (David) of Alexander, N.C., James Robert Allison, Jr. (Rhonda) of Huntersville, NC, Mary Ann Allison (Stephen Snider) of Hyattsville, MD, and Amy Allison Ruhe (Norman) of High Point, NC, eleven grandchildren, seventeen great grandchildren, niece Sharon Burke (David) and nephew Gaithor Wright Brown III all of Johnson City, Tennessee.

The family would like to thank the staff of the 3rd floor healthcare unit at Sharon Towers and Via Health Partners Hospice for their loving care of our Mom/Granny in her final days. 

A graveside service will be held at 2:00 PM, Friday, May 31, 2024, at Evergreen Cemetery, 4426 Central Avenue, Charlotte, NC.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to VIA Health Partners / Hospice Care, or the Residence Assistance Fund at Sharon Towers, 5100 Sharon Road, Charlotte, NC

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences can be shared at

Share your memories & condolences


  • Jane Hutchison Taylor

    What a sweetheart Becky was. I used to visit her and Mr Allison at their home, then at Sharon Towers. I last visited her in December and realized things had become very difficult for her. Yet she still had her kind, friendly spirit. Her Covenant Presbyterian Church family will miss her. Our sincere sympathy to your entire family.
    Jane Hutchison Taylor

  • Patricia Arnold

    I enjoyed Becky as our friendship grew at Sharon Towers with playing cards.
    She truly was a fine lady and interesting good Christian. May she Rest In Peace.

  • Clarkie Brown

    Knew her from Covenant but mostly as Will's grandmother-Austin Hicks is my nephew. Enjoyed seeing her at Sharon Towers when we visited my mom Peaches Hicks. She was so sweet and I was always happy to see her and have a chat. So glad she passed peacefully. She lived a wonderful full like and served well. Blessings, Clarkie Hicks Brown