From Victoria Allen

I am writing on behalf of the National Park Service’s Horace Albright Training Center at the Grand Canyon. I work at the training center; but 5 months before I started working here, I was in class with Ali and 49 other NPS employees who had the pleasure of sharing 2 weeks at the Grand Canyon with Ali.

Ali’s death has … affected? … me personally, not just as an NPS employee. She was around my age. She seemed to face challenges calmly yet not hide her emotions. She was articulate but not garrulous unless it was more fun that way 🙂 She seemed so fulfilled with the life she had built for herself, despite its deviation from what some consider "the norm." And I am trying to share the wonder of her personality both with myself and with friends who did not know her. Not that I knew her well…..but I so appreciated her persona.

Attached are 3 photos of Ali that one of the instructors found among our class photos.
I have also included the "student profile" that Ali filled out when she arrived at the Training Center for class.

Thank you for posting these stories so those of us who just touched the surface can continue to get to know her.

Sincerely, and with Love to Ali’s friends and family,

Alison Maheu Student Bio (Feb 2012).pdf


From Frank Welsh and Judith Jones

Our good friend posted sent us this message. She lives near Lake Merritt and has expressed deep concern about Ali and Luc.Thought this is worth sharing:

“I am so heartbroken over this news, even though I didn’t know them personally. I walk through that intersection almost daily, now with a profound sense of sadness. I left some flowers there and am going to plant some at the curve at the Bellevue/Grand corner in the park this afternoon. There’s a little patch that the neighbors maintain”.

From Dee Dee Lozier

Shots from the "Chickenship".

From John Conway

I first met Ali when she started volunteering on Balclutha, and was impressed by this fearless, eager-to-learn child, who would work anywhere, from painting bilges to securing a Christmas tree to the mast truck. A few years later a new set of sails appeared for one of the historic small boats, flawlessly hand sewn, and I asked where they had come from. Amazed when I learned that Ali had built them from a pile of canvas, rope and thread. Was incredibly glad last year when she appeared at one of our morning meetings, now a young woman, saying she had been hired to one of our permanent ship’s maintenence positions. Recently promoted to ships rigger, I last saw her a couple weeks ago in the Balclutha’s shop, putting the finishing touches onto an eye splice on an inch and a quarter wire backstay, with a great smile on her face.

I returned to the shop last week as a volunteer to find a new wire in the vise ready for another eye splice. The shop seemed so empty. I had to leave as soon as I could.

I’m offering a picture from a book I gave my Mother in the last days of her life. She loved that book, the mother of a sailor, who understood exactly why I’d given to her. Now I give it to the family and friends of a sailor who have lost a daughter and friend.

I asked, and received permission to make this tribute to a friend, fellow sailor, from the artist/author of the book, so I must add this caution:

Used with Kind Permission from the Artist, Mr. Buckley Smith. From his book, “Moonsailors”
Please respect Copyrighted material.

From Tom Beckett

I’m one of Ali’s uncles. At some point in time, when Ali was at Mills, shooting out the lights, I heard she was thinking about law school. Because I’m a lawyer, I thought that was pretty cool.

Sometime thereafter, I called my dear sister Annie at Sea Ranch. Ali answered the phone. We were happy to find each other on the other end of the line, for we didn’t talk all that often. Very directly, she asked me if I enjoyed being a lawyer. After I said yes, she asked me why. I gave my explanation, and she subjected it to a withering cross-examination. Damn!, I thought. She’s not only going to be a fine lawyer, she’s going to be a famous judge. She was then but a junior in college, yet I was already beginning to worry about having to appear in her court.

Sometime after that she told me she thought it was great that I enjoyed being a lawyer.

Ali would have been a fine lawyer. But instead, she followed her spirit and passion for dressage, tall ships, the marlinspike, teaching and the sea. She did not dabble in any of these things; she excelled at all of them. And for that I admire her greatly.

On a very deep level, Ali became the family’s muse for independence and determination. And for that (and much more, of course) we’ll all miss her very, very much.

From Annie

Annie, Ali’s Mom here. The week has been a maelstrom, our attention split between developing plans to celebrate Ali’s life, keeping up with what is now a criminal matter (the driver who hit Ali and Luc charged with felony vehicular manslaughter), the beginnings of bills and insurance matters, trying to stay in touch with Ali within us and our grief. Beneath it all has been your love, like a deep powerful river, unifying our experience while on the surface we are so fragmented. How can I ever thank you enough? We’ll just try to pay it forward.

I’m not getting to see enough of these posts, but I dip in each day for sips of wonderful photos I’ve never seen and stories that give us pieces of her we didn’t have and some great laughs. Please keep them coming.

On Christmas Eve Jerry and I came home to the house as we left it, terrified, shocked, unable to comprehend this could be happening to our girl and her beloved, and to our family, again. Walking in the door a week later was a terrible moment. She was supposed to be there cooking our traditional Christmas dinner with me, preparing for our little Christmas by the fire, just the three of us, the next morning. She and Luc were to have celebrated early as he had to go back to sea. Knowing she’d never come in that door again, back to what in her childhood she called her ‘homey home’, was almost unbearable.

But recently she’d finally, after all these years, cleaned out her childhood room, which had become the Ali storage unit. I dreaded that she’d leave it hollowed out, but instead she refashioned it into a lovely, deeply personal retrospective of her life from infancy to her first apartment with Luc, before they moved onto their boat. Her room was now, she told us, for them when they came to visit so they could be in the house with us instead of the guest cottage where they’ve stayed for years, for any guest who’d like to use it, and for me, a quiet place to hand quilt. Jerry and I spent much of Christmas Eve there.

The following evening friends invited us to dinner with their family of grown children and two granddaughters. To walk into that bit of ordinary life, luminous with the tree lights and candles, warm and kind, was exquisite. I was reminded how breathtakingly beautiful it is to be here in this life. We have limited control, though we’d like to think otherwise. Anything can and does happen. Fair has nothing to do with it. This mess of joy and pain, rage, boredom, hilarity, moments of peace is simply the ‘what is’ as my rabbi Margaret wisely calls it. When I open myself to what is, I find I can love the whole of it.

I hope this experience won’t have cast life in a bad light for you. I hope in the New Year it will remind you to live, love, laugh, relish, suffer and learn with abandon. Every blessing.

Sent from my iPad