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Lenore Rice Hale

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Lenore Rice Hale Obituary
Lenore Rice Hale

Lenore Rice Hale died peacefully on Saturday, the fifth of October 2013, in her apartment at Horizon House in Seattle, Washington. At her side were her daughter Betsy and her granddaughter Elise.

Lenore was generous of spirit and incisive of mind, with an outgoing, yet self-effacing manner that led her to connect readily with others. She had an uncommon wisdom that she shared with all who knew her well. Throughout her life Lenore engaged ideas and problems of the world, establishing bedrock ethical bearings for her family, making a career in social work, and later when her eyesight failed, serving as an insightful critic in response to readings of all kinds-sermons, speeches, essays, statements of purpose and college writing assignments. She showed the utmost dedication to her children and their families, with visits through her final days, and deeply caring, rarely judgmental attentiveness to their lives. In her 56-year marriage to Charles she combined unconditional love with critical reflection, creating a relationship that provided a source of quiet inspiration to all who knew them. Lenore's wry sense of humor and sheer energy for all that she undertook marked her entire life, and kept her strong in the final years as she struggled with multiple physical ailments.

Lenore was born on April 25, 1929 in Dayton, Ohio, to Genevieve and Paul North Rice; she grew up in Pelham, NY with her younger brothers Horace and Charles, now deceased, and her older sister Rachel, of Boston. Nurtured by a family devoted to religion, music, and education, with a strong civic consciousness and a demanding (at times Puritanical) moral code, Lenore became an accomplished pianist, and an avid Jitterbug dancer. She attended Mt. Holyoke College, graduating in 1951.

In 1952, Lenore married Charles A. Hale, of Minneapolis, then a graduate student in history, who became a scholar of 19th century Mexican political thought and a Professor of History at the University of Iowa. Although their four children were all born on the East Coast, they moved to Iowa City in 1966, and made Iowa their home. Lenore and Charles sunk deep roots in Iowa City, devoting themselves to a growing circle of dear friends, discovering the subtle pleasures of small town life in the Midwest.

In 1971, Lenore entered graduate school in social work, and upon graduation took a job as family counselor in the Child Psychiatry Department of the University of Iowa. Retiring in 1989, Lenore continued work on a volunteer basis as peer counselor at the Senior Center in Iowa City. She and Charles moved to Seattle in 2004, leaving behind a lifelong community of friends and colleagues. They made their new life together in Seattle until Charles' untimely death in 2008.

At Horizon House Lenore remained active in many pursuits, including the Ethnic Awareness Committee, the League of Women Voters, and especially a weekly writing class with other residents of the building. Lenore's assignments for this class, first conceived as idiosyncratic remembrances, gradually evolved into a systematic project to compile a book of "sketches of my life and family." Dictated in its entirety to Helga Veblen, who also served as editor, "Tell all the Truth but tell it Slant," was published and presented to a joyful gathering of family and friends in November 2012. The book encapsulates Lenore's wisdom, humility, love of family and sharp critical mind.

Lenore confronted a daunting, cumulative array of physical challenges, from near-blindness due to macular degeneration to Parkinson's, with an overwhelming battery of daily medicines, balanced by the kind attentions of a large team of caregivers. Through her final days she always agreed without hesitation to daughter Betsy's invitation, "Mama, let's go for a swim in Lake Washington."

Especially after Charles' death in 2008, Lenore became the "matriarch," a role she professed to refuse, but actually embraced with characteristic lightness and grace. She is survived by eight adoring grandchildren-Genevieve, Elise, Amalia, Sofia, Miranda, Morgan, Benjamin and Alison-and four children, Betsy (of Seattle), Charles (Austin), Roger (Taipei) and Caroline (Minneapolis).

The family suggests that gifts in memory of Lenore be made to the Washington Stories Fund, a program she helped to establish after finishing her book.

Mail checks to: Humanities Washington 1015 8th Avenue North, Suite B

Seattle, WA 98109

Or call:

KayLee Jaech

206-682-1770 ext. 103

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 9 at 2:00 p.m. at the Plymouth Congregational Church (1217 6th Ave Seattle, WA).
Published in The Seattle Times on Oct. 12, 2013
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