Alice Gregor Rooney
1926 ~ 2019
Prominent arts activist, art school administrator, architectural preservationist, and philanthropic advisor, Alice Rooney, died
peacefully at Foss home in Seattle March 26, 2019. A Seattle native, she attended elementary and junior high school in Seattle, graduating from Ballard high school in 1943 after which she attended the University of Washington, majoring in English. After college she sought her fortune in New York City, landing a job at McCann Erickson advertising agency before returning home to Seattle in 1948. Her marriage to teacher and utilities executive Robert L Rooney in 1953 continued until his death in 1996. After Mr. Rooney's early teaching on Orcas Island, the couple moved to Union Bay Village, married student housing at the UW. Living in Edmonds between 1957 and 1967 the Rooney's raised two children, Robin Lee Rooney (Cassidy) and Scott Corey Rooney. The family moved to Queen Anne Hill in 1967 where Alice continued to live until 2013. She moved to Ballard Landmark a few years later. Alice's parents, Kaare Gregor and Esther Neevin Gregor, emigrated from Norway in the early 1920s. Kaare became a builder/contractor. They preceded her in death as did her brother Ray. She is survived by her son and daughter and Robin's daughter Katherine Anne Esther Cassidy.
Alice's influence on the cultural life of Seattle was profound and affected several aspects of her endless interest in the arts. After an administrative job at the Seattle branch of the American Institute of Architects, she became involved with groups dedicated to saving the Pike Place Market and banning billboards from Interstate 5. This influence was reinforced while she was executive director of Allied Arts, the city's leading urban and architecture preservation activist group which she lead from 1960 to 1980.
Called upon to professionalize and stabilize Pilchuck Glass School in 1980, she was appointed director and remained until 1990. After a year-long fellowship at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington DC, Alice was asked to head the national advocacy group Glass Art Society during which she moved headquarters to Seattle and remained until retiring in 1997.
Alice's dedication to Ballard High School foundation led to her becoming an original board member and early president during which she helped secure donations to support student activities as well as forming the Art Committee in 1997 which led to the nations largest public high school art collection, on view today. Her enjoyment of the theater was shared with her children from an early age as was their attendance in support of Seattle Symphony, Pacific Northwest Ballet and A Contemporary Theatre. As Robin put it, "she encouraged both personal and artistic development in us and everyone she met. Without her we would have no knowledge of Art in its many wonderful forms."
A memorial service will be held
at 10:00 AM on Saturday, April 27
at Butterworth Funeral Home, 520 West Ray St., Seattle.
Memorial gifts may be made in her name to Ballard High School Foundation Art Committee, P. O. Box 17626, Seattle, WA 98127.
Published in The Seattle Times from Apr. 9 to Apr. 14, 2019.