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KARLA DORIS RAB


1940 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
KARLA DORIS RAB Obituary
RAB, Karla Doris A Woman with a Mission It is deeply saddening to report the death of Karla Rab in her Somerville home September 15th, at age 77, of natural causes. A fifth-generation socialist, she was a committed egalitarian who worked tirelessly to wake up the working class to its enlightened self-interest — the immediate abolition of Capital's anachronistic employment system. She imbibed the influence of a socialist family upbringing from her earliest years, and went on to make it her vocation when she joined the World Socialist Party founded in 1916 by her grandfather Isaac Rab and others. She was a practical visionary who took an active part in the party's propaganda and administrative activities. In 2010, fulfilling a promise she had given Rab to "do something" with his voluminous correspondence, she published "Role-Modeling Socialist Behavior: The Life and Letters of Isaac Rab," a multi-faceted undertaking at once a biography, a history and a memoir. Her natural editorial talents were appreciated by all her collaborators. Eventually she took over the role of WSP Corresponding Secretary, a position she handled with intelligence and vigor. But socialism for her was not merely an escape from the drab expectations of the depersonalized world that grows out of capitalism. She had a rich, multifaceted and open-ended conception of her place in the world. Despite commenting often that she had been socialized to perform domestic functions — and though she held an MA in Classics from Tufts University — she did not see her contribution to society as limited to success in a career. By turns she became a registered nurse, a lecturer on human sexuality and a natural-childbirth educator, serving for a time as president of the Boston Association for Childbirth Education (BACE). And while her youthful aspiration to a career in the theater did not bear fruit, her native sense of theater insinuated itself dynamically into everything she did. Later in her life, Karla played an active role in the Community Church of Boston, where she served on its Program Committee, selecting and inviting speakers for weekly talks on peace and justice issues, injecting a specifically socialist content into their Sunday Forums whenever she could; for a while she participated in their prison outreach program as well. She is survived by her husband and comrade Ron Elbert, her daughter Sara Ellenbogen, her son Adam Ellenbogen, and family on both sides. She is now extending her relationship with Tufts University through its Department of Anatomical Gifts. In her life she touched many people, and her wonderfully abundant radiant energy will linger with us for a long time. The memorial service will be held at Community Church of Boston on November 19th at 2:30 p.m.

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Published in The Boston Globe on Nov. 5, 2017
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