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Aliceann Wohlbruck

1936 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Aliceann Wohlbruck Obituary
Wohlbruck, Aliceann Aliceann Wohlbruck died peacefully surrounded by her family on March 19, 2018 from complications from a stroke. She was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania in 1936 and raised there by her grandparents. Her grandfather was Yard Master of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He provided her with his travel pass and she spent many happy days exploring the northeastern United States. These two early loves, of rural America and of travel, were constant touchstones in her life. Aliceann retired on September 16, 2003 as the Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Under her leadership, it became the largest and leading advocate for a regional approach to development in small metropolitan and rural America. She became the association's first fulltime chief executive in 1979, coordinating NADO's policy development and legislative advocacy on economic, community, and rural development. She became the NADO Research Foundation's director at its creation in 1988. The foundation provides education and training for development professionals and policymakers. Her tireless advocacy on behalf of NADO was legendary. Her lobbying prowess was celebrated in a front-page Wall Street Journal story on the battle to preserve the Economic Development Administration. Before joining NADO, Aliceann was Associate Director of the National Association of Counties (NACo) from 1964 to 1968. Prior to coming to Washington to advocate for small communities, she worked for the Mayor of Syracuse, New York and was a high school English teacher for a year in Altoona, PA. Aliceann's study bursts with memorabilia from her years of service. There are pictures of her with Presidents Carter and Clinton, presidential pens from the signing of the revenue sharing legislation, and photos of bill signings for the Clean Water Act and comprehensive welfare reform. During the course of her career, she traveled around the world twice and visited 49 states and 44 countries as a lecturer or tourist. She lived for extended periods in Pakistan, Switzerland, and Germany. Juniata College in Huntington, Pennsylvania awarded Aliceann her B.A. degree in English in 1958. Juniata was at the center of her life since, providing not only the education that was the basis for her leadership career, but also lifelong friends. She served on the Juniata College Board of Trustees since 1999 and was President of its National Alumni Council. The College awarded her its Alumni Achievement Award in 1995. Aliceann won a scholarship to the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and received her MPA (Masters of Public Administration) there in 1960. She served on the Board of Directors of the Maxwell School Alumni of Washington D.C. and was recognized for Exceptional Professional Achievement by that group in 1996. While in graduate school, she married fellow student A. Lee Fritschler. They have sons Craig and Eric, and grandchildren Phoebe and Aiden. The marriage ended in an amicable divorce, and the former couple raised their children together. In 1979, Aliceann married Bernard Hillenbrand, NACo's founding director and later a Methodist minister. They were a team, supporting each other's professional interests and families. Aliceann's sons, Craig and Eric, joined Bernie's children Lisa, Susan, John, and Laura in a blended family. Aliceann and Bernie continued the work of maintaining Hillenbruck Farm, a 200- year old farm on the Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD and hosted many NADO, Juniata, NACo and family reunions there. After retirement, Aliceann enjoyed her many friends and organizational ties. Sadly, a stroke in 2011 limited these activities, but did not diminish her mental abilities or her interest in family, friends and politics. NPR was her constant source of information through the years. Addressing the Juniata College Senior Dinner in 2003, Aliceann quoted the poet Robert Frost and advised her audience to "take the road less traveled but stay at least on the edge of the establishment so you can affect the world we live in." She was always eager to learn something new and see dilemmas from alternative perspectives. Throughout her long and fruitful life, she was the living embodiment of John Wesley's admonition: Do as much good as you can, to as many as ever you can, for as long as you can. Brava, Aliceann. We will miss you. Please sign the Guestbook at www.legacy.com/washingtontimes
Published in Washington Times on Mar. 27, 2018
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