FSU remembers first cheerleader and main dance supporter Maggie…

Margaret “Maggie” Strum Acheson Allesee, who attended Florida State College for Women just as she was transitioning to a coed college, died Jan. 27 at age 94.

A 1949 graduate of FSU in English, journalism and education, Allesee earned a master’s degree in education, guidance and counseling and a post-master’s degree in gerontology from Wayne State University, along with four honorary doctorate degrees.

As FSU’s first head cheerleader to lead the opening cheer for the first football game in 1947, Allesee was also the first woman to earn a varsity letter. She later became the only woman among the dozen founders of the FSU Varsity Club.

Allesee traveled the world and settled in the Detroit area, but never stopped cheering for Florida State, returning annually to Tallahassee to don his original uniform and make appearances in the FSU Homecoming Parade and on the football field.

“It was a joy to see her come back every year for our homecoming festivities,” said Julie Decker, president and CEO of the FSU Alumni Association. “She leaves a generous legacy that will continue to pave the way for a new generation of FSU athletes and artists.”

An avid Seminole fan and fervent supporter of his alma mater, Allesee had a rich history of philanthropy at FSU.

In 2000, Allesee endowed the Maggie Strum Allesee Women’s Golf Scholarship, which has greatly benefited female athletes in the sport, most recently Kaylah Williams, a sophomore psychology major from South Africa.

Allesee also gifted the university with the one-ton, 15-foot-tall statue, Sportsmanship, which is located in Strum Plaza at Doak Campbell Stadium. Introduced in 2000, the gift honors his father, Al Strum, an athlete in his own right who had a remarkable reputation for grace and sportsmanship.

Most notably, she endowed the Maggie Allesee National Choreography Center in 2004. The center, housed in the FSU School of Dance, is the first national choreography center located at a major research institution. Since its inception, MANCC has supported multi-week residencies for more than 150 choreographers and their more than 1,100 collaborators worldwide. In 2013, FSU honored Allesee with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his support of dance innovation and research.

“Through the experience at this choreography center, FSU provides a positive impact in developing outstanding dancers from around the world,” Allesee said. “High levels of education are the best gifts we can give our students today.”

Carla Peterson, director of the MANCC since 2014, credits Allesee’s “expansive vision, deep passion for dance, commitment to students, and ongoing generosity” for inspiring artists and driving the center’s success.

“We owe him a deep debt of gratitude for a center that will continue to support artists and shape career paths for students into the future,” Peterson said.

Maggie will be mourned by many including her three children Shirley Shirock (Bob), Kathy Cooke (Kim) and Michael Acheson (Adele); three stepsons Robert Jr, John (Karen Sterzik) and Bill Allesee (Joan); 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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