Gay City News’ Allison Greaker Dies at 78

Allison Greaker at her 50th wedding anniversary party in 2014. | CYNTHIA SOTO

Allison Greaker at her 50th wedding anniversary party in 2014. | CYNTHIA SOTO

Tears of grief and tears of laughter flowed at Allison Greaker’s wake in Brooklyn this week when her family, friends, and colleagues from NYC Community Media, whose publications include Gay City News, Chelsea Now, and the Villager, celebrated her irrepressible wry humor.

Allison Davis Greaker died suddenly at the age of 78 at home on Friday, October 21. She had not been feeling well since Wednesday, said her daughter, Allison Hope Greaker. Nevertheless, she went to work that day and the next at the newspaper group where she was an advertising account executive.

She and her husband, Richard Henry Greaker, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary two years ago on Flag Day, June 14. “My mother was very patriotic. She observed holidays like Flag Day. She’s been telling my brother and me, ‘It’s been more than 50 wonderful years — for your father,’ ” her daughter said.

With humor and moxie, she sold ads, and stories

“My mother made a joke of everything. It made life interesting, fun, and sometimes embarrassing,” said her daughter.

A staunch Republican, Allison boasted at one point that she was the only openly GOP staffer in the office. She was, as well, a woman of deeply held Episcopalian faith and was an officer in the 1928 Prayer Book Alliance, formerly known as Episcopalians for Traditional Faith.

“Allison had been working in sales in New York City newspapers for decades,” said Lincoln Anderson, editor of the Villager. “I believe she worked at the Westsider, the Chelsea Clinton News, and the Observer before she came to NYC Community Media.”

Anderson added, “Allison had a wry, humorous perspective on everything, including the newspaper business. But I thought she was very honest in her take on people, although I didn’t agree with her political views. She has a grandson named Andersen, and she always made a point of mentioning that to me since my last name is Anderson.”

A proud member of Daughters of the American Revolution, Greaker’s roots went back to the colonial era. “One of our ancestors was James Blackwell, who bought Blackwell’s Island [now Roosevelt Island] from the Indians,” her daughter said. “It was sold later to the State of New York. During the Revolution, one of our ancestors fought on the American side and his father fought on the British side.”

Scott Stiffler, editor of Chelsea Now, said, “Devout faith, conservative politics, occasional profanity — that was Allison. She was not above telling a risqué story, which she did with considerable skill. Great timing.”

“We had a lot of fun together playing each other’s devil’s advocate,” recalled Gay City News editor Paul Schindler. “Allison was tireless in bringing Gay City News to advertisers that had never before been considered, and she had remarkable success with that.”

“It is always a pleasure to meet someone who is smart, witty, and funny, but it’s even better when you get to work with someone like that every day,” said Jennifer Goodstein, NYC Community Media publisher. “Allison brought her own style of selling and competitive spirit to her job. She approached every client as an opportunity to find a creative solution to their business need, often creating one-of-a-kind advertising that brought the client results. Allison’s creativity and successful campaigns earned her recognition from the business community and statewide awards from the New York Press Association. We are privileged to have known her and will miss her greatly.”

Cynthia Soto, the newspaper group’s office manager, said, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Allison for 11 years. She was an amazing woman. I looked forward to her stories, her jokes, and her great sense of humor. I considered her my family, not only my co-worker.” Soto’s two teenage children, frequent visitors to her workplace over the years, referred to Greaker as their “office grandma.”

Lisa Malwitz, office manager at sister company Community News Group, said, “Allison was a wonderful woman whom I will miss so very much. She always had a story and could make you laugh with the funny way she told it. My dear friend, may she rest in peace. It won’t be the same here without her.”

Allison Davis Greaker was born on July 26, 1938, in Brooklyn, the seventh of eight children of Jocelyn Christine Andrews and Edwin Graves Davis. “My last remaining uncle died a while ago,” said her daughter. Allison went to P.S. 104 in Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton High School. She also attended Wagner College for two years.

“My father and mother met at a Lutheran church social in Marine Park,” Allison’s daughter recalled. “My father was the reigning eligible bachelor there. My mother was there because she couldn’t find an Episcopal church in the neighborhood where she just moved to. They got married on June 14, 1964, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bay Ridge.”

She added, “My mother told people she named me Allison so she wouldn’t forget my name. But we all have different middle names.”

In addition to her daughter, Allison Greaker is survived by her husband, Richard Henry Greaker, and her son, Richard Nixon Greaker. She also leaves three grandsons, Andersen, Jacob, and Richard Thomas Greaker.

Clavin Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements. A funeral mass was held on October 26, at Christ Church, Bay Ridge.