Dee Dee Rainbow
Seattle has lost an icon. Dee Dee Rainbow, aka "The Rainbow Lady," has died at 81. She passed away peacefully on November 12 in Seattle, the city where she was born Delores Yvonne to Cedric and Edna Wardall on September 3, 1932. Dee Dee Rainbow was her chosen name and she lived up to it everyday - never seen without her brightly hued attire and accoutrements, and the abundant glitter that always transferred to recipients of her frequent hugs. She brought her unique brand of joy and exuberance to everyone she met.
Dee Dee grew up in Laurelhurst and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1950. She married Peter Raible that same year. They would live in Berkeley, CA, and then Providence, RI, where she attended the Rhode Island School of Design. They moved to Lincoln, NE, where she earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Education at the University of Nebraska. They returned to Seattle in 1961 and settled into the Madrona residence she would call home for most of her adult life. Dee Dee was a longtime arts educator, teaching for 29 years at Meany Middle School. She was also a ceramicist, creating signature dragon sculptures in her Madrona studio incorporating crystals and volcanic ash from Mt. St. Helens. As a licensed officiant and MC, she presided over many weddings/unions and celebrations. Most of all, Dee Dee loved all things jazz, and was a fixture at live music events and festivals, and all things to do with the arts. She regularly escorted the Garfield High School Jazz Band to performances at jazz hot-spots such as New Orleans and Montreux, Switzerland. She especially looked forward to her annual forays to the Monterey Jazz Festival (44 in all!), where she founded and led a New Orleans-style parade that continues today.
Dee Dee was once voted "The Second Most Eccentric Person in Seattle" by the Seattle Weekly. Her response: "How did I fall short?" She was the center of attention where ever she went, happily interacting with the gathering crowds. Dee Dee was a warm and wonderful person, truly believing she could effect positive change with her gleeful demeanor and the "Rainbow Blessings" she bestowed with her wand.
Dee Dee was preceded in death by ex-husband, the Rev. Dr. Peter Raible in 2004, and daughter Robin in 2006. Ms. Rainbow's survivors include her sister Marsha Valentine, children Stephen, Robert and Deborah Raible, and their spouses, eight grandchildren and many, many extended family members and friends. A celebration of her life will be held Saturday, January 4, 1:00 p.m. at University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave NE, Seattle.
Published in The Seattle Times on Nov. 17, 2013.