Who is Mary Ann?
The “Mary Ann” of Mary Ann’s Tea Room is none other than long-time friend of the Central West End, Mary Ann (Kovac) Allison. Born April 28, 1942 in St. Louis, MO, Mary Ann lived as she died, putting the lives of others, including her beloved pets, before her own, passed away on February 20, 2009 in a fire at her home near Clarksville, MO.
Mary Ann was many things to so many people – true friend, fierce animal advocate, and a brilliant, generous antique dealer. She owned the Clarksville Antique and Auction Center, as well as the West End Gallery at 4732 McPherson here in the Central West End. She had her own unique, never dull business style, and never had a trace of “business as usual” about her. She could always see the possibilities surrounding her through a different prism.
Her energy was boundless and contagious. When Clarksville was struggling with the floods in '08, she worked as hard as any man to keep the Mississippi at bay. Her generosity and hospitality never ceased. In good times and in bad, the door to the Allison home was always open to family, friend or stray animal -- be it bird, cat, dog or even fox. The tales of Mary Ann and her animals are legend. And they are all true.
Through all her life and up until the end of it, Mary Ann was a stunning beauty. Not just on the outside, her beauty shone from within. She graduated from high school with every senior superlative possible from most beautiful eyes, smile, face, etc. to even most likely to succeed. She was the sum of all of those things throughout the rest of her life. At the University of Missouri, she reigned as Homecoming Queen in 1962-63 as well as one of the first women to graduate with a Marketing Degree from the College of Business and Public Administration.
Mary Ann died after rushing into her home to save her pets – six cats, five dogs, three birds and a fox. She never made it out of the house, and only one dog, Tickles, escaped. “My mother died for her animals,” says her son, Stephen Kovac. “She never in her life killed a bug.” Mary Ann always did what she set her mind to do, and she did everything to the maximum in her own flamboyant way. She was not a person of half persuasion, as anyone who knew her would vouch.
She lived as she died, with a blinding love for her family, friends and pets. She will always be with us because her spirit lives in every life she ever touched.