Rene Lee Allen, born Alice Lorene Lee on June 3, 1921, in Oklahoma, died peacefully on Nov. 4, 2016, in Sonora, California, surrounded by people who loved her.

Rene Lee Allen, born Alice Lorene Lee on June 3, 1921, in Oklahoma, died peacefully on Nov. 4, 2016, in Sonora, California, surrounded by people who loved her.

Rene was preceded in death by parents James and Lilly Lee, sisters Bobbie, Oleta, Evelyn “Pink,” and brothers William “Mike,” Paul, Perry, and James “Sug.” She raised six children: Glen Williams (deceased), Sandra Givens (Manteca,California) Betsy Givens (deceased), Patricia Allen Moore (Manteca, California), Julia Allen (Oakland, California), and John “Davy” Allen (deceased). She was “Gaga” to 13 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, 13 great-great-grandchildren; mother-in-law to Ron Moore (Manteca, California) and Mary Williams (Jerome, Arizona); loving sister-in-law to Cathrene Lee (Shawnee), and aunt to numerous Lee nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren in Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas. She leaves behind long time friend Eleanor Carr (Modesto, California). A practical soul with a respect for science, Rene willed her body to the UCSF Medical School.

She was an Oklahoma girl who loved her family, her dogs, music and dance, fast cars and road trips. She was a tireless worker: she was a farmer, a forklift driver, a teacher, and a builder of things. A voracious reader, she gave her children the gifts of intellectual curiosity and a love of books. She was a possibility model, an example of what is possible with determination and creative thinking. One of her guiding principles in life was “If you can imagine it, you can do it.” She was the first woman forklift driver for the Federal Defense Depot in Tracy in 1975. She loved her job and received numerous awards for excellent performance during her career there. In her late 50s, she parked her forklift for the last time, and went on to realize her dream of being a farmer. Rene’s “you pick” pea farm in Lathrop, California, was a beautiful example of her creativity and hard work. A unique experience in time, her pea farm is remembered fondly by many.

A Depression era child, she was the queen of thrift store shopping and a diligent saver of “stuff.” Strong willed and unafraid to speak her mind, she could have a fiery temper and a sharp tongue, and yet her heart was soft. She offered her hand to the addicts and felons, the mentally ill and the down and out. She gave many a meal or a ride or a loan or a place to stay.

She weathered many storms in life and even in the darkest of times, she soldiered on. Many times down, but never out, that was Rene. In her late 80s, she began writing her memoirs. Written in her distinctive Palmer cursive on the the backs of used envelopes and old utility bills, she began her story with these words: “Now that I’m old, my days are like opening presents. Sometimes it’s a great day, sometimes its an uneventful one, but all are beautiful and looked forward to.” A fitting epitaph for a woman who lived each day of her 95 years to its fullest. She’s at rest now, gone home to her people.