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1928 Alison 2023

Alison Duff Cannon

June 23, 1928 — December 23, 2023

Westwood, MA & Martha's Vineyard, MA


Alison Duff Cannon, 95, most recently of Westwood, MA, and formerly Martha’s Vineyard, MA, died peacefully on Saturday, December 23, 2023. She was born in Boston, MA on June 23, 1928, to Alexander and Margaret (Manning) Duff. She grew up in Wellesley, MA attending public school before entering her beloved Smith College. In 1950 she graduated from Smith with a degree in History.In 1951 she married Donn S. Randall, an Amherst man with whom she had grown up in Wellesley. Alison focused on raising their family of four children while they lived in Wellesley, MA, Bedford NH, and then Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA. Alison taught English at the Brookwood School. She enjoyed summers on Lake Winnipesaukee and regular ski trips to Cannon Mountain in Franconia, NH, with Donn and the children. Tragically, Donn’s life was cut short by a car accident in 1967.

     Through mutual friends, Alison met her second husband, James H. (Jim) Cannon. They married in 1969 and moved to Boston. Together, they enjoyed a busy civic and social life for 44 years until his death in 2013. Alison was an active volunteer wherever she was living. In the Boston area she was involved with the Junior League, the Smith College Club, Nichols House Museum, and the Chestnut Hill Garden Club. An avid reader of mysteries, she was also a contributing reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly magazine. She especially enjoyed working at the Museum of Fine Arts where she was on the Ladies Committee, worked as a docent, and was instrumental in establishing the annual Art in Bloom exhibit which continues to this day.

     After many years of summering on Martha’s Vineyard in Edgartown, MA, she and Jim moved there full time in 1983. As a year-round resident Alison contributed her many skills to local civic endeavors. She served on the Edgartown Planning Commission, the Boards of Sheriff's Meadow and the Polly Hill Arboretum, as well as various committees at the Edgartown Yacht Club, and Chappaquiddick Beach Club, where she enjoyed beach days with her grandchildren. She also continued her involvement with the Ladies Committee at the MFA in Boston and the Smith College Club. Alison always enjoyed a good party and was the consummate hostess. Most of all, she was a passionate “foodie” and studied with the French chef, Madeleine Kamman. She worked as the pastry chef for Chez Pierre in Edgartown, MA, and made wedding cakes for family and friends. She instilled a love of cooking in all her children and grandchildren.

     Alison enjoyed golf and tennis, and valiantly crewed for Jim during sailing season until they moved to Fox Hill in Westwood, MA in 2011. There, she continued to stay busy with various activities, including trips to the Boston Symphony, the Museum of Fine Arts, and creating flower arrangements for the public areas around Fox Hill. Alison always had a kind word to say about everyone. She treated people with equal respect and regard and had a smile that lit up her whole face. She lived a full and long life and will be missed.

     Alison leaves her sons Donn Randall (Pam Norley), his 3 children, Amy, Alec and Alison, their spouses and children; Jeff Randall (Nancy Randall), their 2 children, Lucy and Sally, their spouses and children, Stuart Randall (Loring Allen) and his children Catherine, Henry and Philip: her daughter, Shelley Randall; her stepchildren, Peter Cannon (Nan Hawley) and their children, Nicholas, James and Alice; Jane Cannon; and Cairo Cannon (Carol Morley).

     In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Polly Hill Arboretum, 809 State Road, West Tisbury, MA 02575.

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