Sunday, February 18, 2007

Allison Stern

Allison Stern (in red, pictured with Marcia Mishaan, Barbara Bancroft, and Debbie Bancroft) was a beautiful girl who grew up in middle-America (in Kentucky), in a world close to the land where families survived eeking out an existence. As a very young woman she came to the Big City, dreaming of a bigger, magical life, the kind that New York offers to the world of fertile imaginations, dreaming of a career as an actress, as a model. Because she was a beauty, with a gentle and sweet, as well as steely self-possessed demeanor to protect herself from the elements, she had some success in her pursuits. Her success was not epic or astonishing but she was able to make her way, to support herself, and to grow.

When she was twenty-seven, and still, in her mind, struggling, she met a fortune teller who told her, among other things, that she would meet and marry one of the richest men in America. A tantalizing prospect for an eager and earnest young woman of independence without means. But ... continued the fortune teller, this would happen when Allison was ... 37! Ten years from the time of the reading – a lifetime for a young girl uncertain about the whereabouts of the coming months’ rent. The prediction’s time schedule was enough to make the woman forget about it altogether.

However, it so happened that after another ten years of making her way, of maturing, of growing into her self, she did indeed meet a man, Leonard Stern, a tycoon, son of the man who came to America with a few canaries and an idea that evolved into Hartz Mountain and an enormous pet products business. Mr. Stern, who was a few years older, and had been previously married with family, swept the willowy beauty off her feet, and they were married.

That was a number of years ago. The couple reside in one of the few remaining private mansions on Fifth Avenue, and in a house in the Hamptons, and on a beautiful motor yacht, the Lady Allison where they can be found in residence, always traveling with close friends and family, in the Mediterranean, every summer.

Allison is an animal lover and her marriage to her husband gave her the opportunity to pursue that passion. At home, there is a pet cat in residence, but out in the world, there is the huge enterprise of the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society that are her bigger pets. For several years, she and her husband have chaired the annual galas both in Central Park and at the Bronx Zoo that have raised millions for animal conservation and protection, and raised the public profile of the organization, attracting enormous public interest. She’s also used this opportunity not only to help the cause, but to educate herself and many others.

The Sterns have an active social life in New York, especially as a couple, entertaining and being entertained by a wide and interesting group of friends. She’s what they call “a lady,” through and through, and although many of their connections are to the corridors of power and Leonard Stern is recognized as a powerful and canny businessman who increased his inherited fortune many times over, they are people who basically just like to enjoy the company of others, namely their friends.

As a couple they still retain a youthfulness, a newness, at least in appearance that escapes many after years of marriage partnership. Both outgoing and friendly as individuals in social situations, they seem at ease in any company. One of the most beautiful women in her set, still slender and winsome with that model’s figure, she wears the couture she dresses in for those galas, like the model she once was. Yet, whether out in public, at a formal dinner party, or sitting around the table on their sleek Lady Allison, they’re easy company, surprisingly just folks, and good friends. The country girl came to the big town, diligent in her dreams, enduring in demeanor, and it turned out to be the right place; she’s home.