Allyn P. Udell, a “greeter” and salesperson in her family’s London Jewelers business, lived decades with a painful cancer — but she never showed it.
“She would always smile and always, until the very end, say ‘I’m perfectly fine,’ ” said Ira Udell, her husband of 47 years.
The Floral Park resident, 67, died Wednesday when she did not rebound after one of the many experimental treatments she had taken over 21 years for multiple myeloma, a cancer that starts in the blood, her family said.
In spite of her condition, she embraced listening to her customers’ life stories, and when her many friends came to shop, she could divine exactly the type of jewelry they’d like. For 30 years, she worked at the jewelry stores, mostly at the Manhasset locations.
Her customers became her friends and her friends became her customers, and every day, people would come in asking where Allyn was, said sister-in-law Candy Udell, who also worked in the family business.
“I think that was her greatest strength, to talk to people all day,” her sister-in-law said.
From the stores to her doctors’ offices, people knew her for her Hello Dollies, bars filled with nuts, coconut, sweetened condensed milk and other decadent ingredients, Ira Udell said. Often, when she could not sleep due to the cancer, she could be found in the kitchen 4 a.m. baking the desserts, he said.
One never heard any complaint from Udell as her husband, the ophthalmology department chairman at Northwell Health, researched her condition, helping her get cutting-edge treatments with doctors across the country.
For Ira, it had been love at first sight when he spotted a smiling Allyn at a Rosh Hashanah party in New Orleans during their college years. The Alabama native married him 10 months later.
On her 45th birthday, he had the job of breaking the cancer diagnosis to her because he had already made plans to fly with her the next day out of state to a specialist.
The mother of three wasn’t inclined to talk about how she was able to cope with the cancer, from bone lesions to sepsis, those who knew her said.
“What got her through was being with the family and her thoughts of seeing her children grow up,” her sister-in-law said. “She was like a lioness protecting her children. That’s what she was meant to do.”
The family asked donations be made to the Allyn P. Udell Hello Dollies Foundation Inc.
Udell is also survived by daughter Erin Minsky of Roslyn and sons Jared of Port Washington and Zachary of Great Neck, and siblings Jeff of Birmingham, Alabama and Randy, of Atlanta.
Funeral services will be held at Shelter Rock Synagogue, 272 Shelter Rock Rd., Roslyn, 11 a.m. Thursday.