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  • "The residents of Malta House, staff, and volunteers of the..."
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OSTAPENKO ROSE BENTÉ LEE OSTAPENKO Retailer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist May 14, 1919 - July 20, 2014 Born in the historic town of Fulda, Germany, Rose was the youngest of twelve children. She developed her talent for decorating and dress designing at the Marian School in Fulda, Germany. Rose was encouraged, by a brother and other relatives who had immigrated to the US, to migrate and start a new life. Courageously, this German teenager made her journey across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in the U.S. in the late 1930's. Rose married Raymond H. Benté, a successful entrepreneur and using her talent as a designer, love of fabrics and fashion, Rose and Ray founded "The Sewing Shop" which grew and was eventually renamed "The House of Fine Fabrics", a great corporation numbering seventeen stores and employed over three hundred people. When Ray died suddenly in 1971, leaving her fully in charge of their growing company, Rose ran the fabric stores very successfully until she sold them in 1978. By then, she was already busy in her work as a philanthropist and enjoying the company of her new husband the Honorable Robert E. Lee, Commissioner, and Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission. After 19 years of marriage, Robert E. Lee died in 1993. Rose Lee later met and married Rear Admiral (select) William M. Ostapenko, also known as Bill. They were married in August 1999, with his help and great counsel, she continued her many philanthropic works, and she found time to publish her autobiography, "An American Dream." Education Rose was a long time member and Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia. In 1984, she helped establish the Rose Benté Lee Endowed Scholarship in Nursing that has benefitting hundreds of Marymount students and continues to be awarded each year. In 1999, she provided a gift for the Marymount Student Center, named the Rose Benté Lee Center. In 2008, Marymount announced that its new Residence Hall scheduled to be opened in the fall of 2010 would be named Rose Benté Lee Ostapenko Hall in recognition of her generosity and leadership. In 2010, the Rose Benté Lee Ostapenko Hall opened for students as a new residence hall. She made generous contributions to the renovation of the University's Reinsch Library and regularly supported the University's annual Fashion Show. Niagara University, New York recognized her leadership and generosity by awarding her Doctor of Humane Letters in 1986. Rose also served on the Advisory Board of Notre Dame University for three years and was a supporter of the School of Communication's scholarship program. In 1988, Notre Dame University awarded Rose a Gold Medal in honor of her great service to the University. As a life member of the Salvation Army, she gave generously to the organization and also organized and raised funds to support its programs. Rose also donated sixty acres of land in Orange County, Virginia to Childhelp USA EAST, which was sold to help with the acquisition of additional land and upgrades to their beautiful site in Culpeper. She also donated a chapel for private prayer and religious services. Rose donated thirty acres of land to the Germanna Community College Educational Foundation in Culpeper, Virginia, as a comprehensive community college, it helps prepare the work force for the heightened demand in technology skills. Healthcare Rose was a long time supporter of Virginia Hospital Center having served many years on the Hospital's Board of Directors and as a member of the Galen Society. In 1994, Rose memorialized her husband with a gift to the Hospital to establish the Honorable Robert E. Lee Oncology Unit. In 2005, Rose provided for the creation of Rose Benté Lee Ostapenko Outpatient Oncology Center. This new generous contribution allowed the Hospital to consolidate and expand outpatient oncology services in one centralized location including interventional radiology, outpatient infusion (chemotherapy), radiation oncology, community education, screenings, and support groups. Rose also generously supported the Vincent Lombardi Cancer Research Center at the Georgetown University Hospital. Rose was also a major contributor to the Hospice Center in Arlington, Virginia. The Church Rose had great love and concern for the Catholic Church, the Priests, the organizations, and the Arlington Diocese, where she lived for over 60 years. Over the years, she donated two beautiful organs and provided other generous support to St Agnes church where she was a parishioner. In 1995, Rose was the sole contributor of the Malta House, Hyattsville, Maryland, an assisted-living arrangement in which the elderly, who can no longer care for themselves, can continue living a humane dignified way of life in memory of her late husband the Honorable Robert E Lee, Knight of Malta. Malta House provides for 31 private resident rooms. Later, Rose gave a generous gift to add the "Rose Benté Lee Chapel". Rose donated an extraordinary gift to the Catholic Diocese of Arlington to support the construction of the Saint Rose of Lima Priests' Retirement Home in Annandale, Virginia. It was Rose's desire to assist retired or infirmed diocesan Priests, who have lived exemplary lives of service to God and the community, with a wonderful place to retire. She contributed generously to the United Jewish Appeal Foundation and her love for the elderly led her to support the Jewish Council for the Aging where she was named to the Founder's Circle in 2000. The Arts In 1983, along with many others, Rose was a founder of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Rose donated the sculpture gallery in the new wing and two crystal chandeliers. Rose and others were privileged as a "Friend of the First Ladies" to give their expertise in repairing damaged fabrics and dress design to help repair gowns of First Ladies which had been part of the Smithsonian collection since 1914. The restoration was a great success and the Smithsonian Institute recognized their work with the exhibition of "First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image". Since its beginning in 1974, Rose supported the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts when she underwrote six box seats in the Opera House. She was also a Circles member. She supported the National Ballet, National Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Chamber Orchestra, Wolfe Trap and many other programs for the arts. Honors and Awards 1986: Doctor of Humane Letters, Niagara University 1987: Investiture, the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta 1988: Gold Medal, the University of Notre Dame 1993: Cross Pro Merito Melitense, Knights of Malta 1995: Investiture, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre 1996: Doctor of Humane Letters, Marymount University 1997: Mother Gerard Phelan Gold Medal, Marymount University 2009: The Majella Berg Medal Rose was a member of the Congressional Country Club, the Historic Georgetown Club, The Cosmos Club, and the Washington Club. Rose is survived by a multitude of stepchildren, nieces, nephews, step grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews. Friends may call to Murphy Funeral Home of Arlington, 4510 Wilson Blvd, from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, 2014. A Mass will be offered at St. Agnes Catholic Church, 1910 North Randolph, Arlington, VA 22207 at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, July 25, 2014. Interment will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be mailed to: Marymount University, Rose Benté Lee Nursing Scholarship Fund Attn: Office of Advancement 2807 North Glebe Road Arlington, Virginia 22207 And the Saint Rose of Lima Priest Retirement Home, Diocese of Arlington, Virginia 200 North Glebe Road, Suite 811 Arlington, Virginia 22203

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Murphy Funeral Homes
4510 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22203
(703) 920-4800
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Published in The Washington Post from July 23 to July 24, 2014
Funeral Home Details
Arlington, VA   (703) 920-4800
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