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Selma Jane Rockey Denecke

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Selma Jane Rockey Denecke Obituary
Selma Jane Rockey Denecke June 11, 1919 ~ October 2, 2009 PORTLAND ~ She loved people, conversation, the world around her, and was the last one to leave a party. Selma was known by all for her warmth, class, grace and willingness to engage people of all persuasions. Born in Portland, Oregon on June 11,1919, Selma Jane Rockey was the only child of Dr. Paul Rockey, a longtime surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital, and Selma Schempf, a nurse in World War I and a native of Iowa City, Iowa. Selma's grandparents had come to Portland in 1889 so her roots and knowledge of Portland ran deep, including her home neighborhood of Westover. As an only child, Selma spent many weekends and summers with her parents and family friends vacationing on the Oregon coast in Gearhart and Seaside, and in Victoria, B.C. These trips and her parents' broad view of the world helped spark her life-long interest in travel, history and art. After graduating from Miss Catlin's School in 1937, Selma ventured to what was then an oasis of orange groves at the recently opened women's Scripps College in Claremont, California. Her Scripps experience was a true highlight during which time she made many dear friends and developed a deep appreciation for her education and what would become a life-long affiliation with the college. Following her graduation in 1941 with a degree in History of Art and Architecture, Selma got a job at the Portland Art Museum. A friend of Selma's set her up on a blind date in 1944 with an Army officer named Arno H. Denecke. The blind date lead to several other dates, and after a long-distance proposal and Arno's service in France, the pair was married in October 1945 upon his return to Portland. Selma and Arno made their first home together in Eugene, where Arno taught at the University of Oregon Law School. They later moved to Portland where Arno began the private practice of law, and a short time later, Selma and Arno welcomed their first child, Ginger. A little less than two years later, their son David was born. Four years later, twin boys, Will and John were born and their youngest child, Anne, was born at the close of 1959. Despite having five children, Selma would be the first to admit that she "didn't know a thing" about raising children, but she always said that her children were the best thing that ever happened to her. When Arno was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court in 1962, the family moved to Salem where they made many close friends in the Candelaria neighborhood of South Salem. Having spent her entire life in Portland, Selma quickly adapted to life in a new city including her volunteer work. Her interest in travel and the wider world was never far away, however, and she and Arno traveled to England, South Africa and Kenya in 1969. In the 1970's, Selma made other trips to Europe with family and friends. After returning to Portland in the early 1980's, Selma vigorously renewed her volunteer service with the Albertina Kerr Center, the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society. She also continued her travels throughout the next 20 years, venturing to many parts of the world with various family members and friends. And as always, she played bridge and enjoyed life with the "bridge ladies". Selma enjoyed swimming and tennis as a child, but never described herself as an "athlete" or a sports fan. When she returned to Northwest Portland after being married, however, she became a regular at the Vaughn Street Portland Beavers Baseball Park. Later in life she became an avid fan of nearly all forms of sport, especially the Portland Trail Blazers, professional golf, and Oregon State University and University of Oregon football and basketball. If there was a game or match on, chances are she was watching and calling various of her children/grandchildren to report scores as the games progressed. Selma loved life, and especially her children and grandchildren. She is survived by her children and their spouses, Ginger Denecke Hackett (Dave Hackett), David Denecke (Gail Neuburg), Will Denecke, John Denecke and Anne Denecke, and her grandchildren Christl Denecke (Steven Ginzburg), Colin Hackett, Cameron Hackett (Erna Stubblefield), Samantha Denecke, Anna Denecke and Chase Denecke. A celebration of life honoring Selma will be held from 2-5 p.m., Saturday, October 17 at the Multnomah Athletic Club, Portland. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Albertina Kerr Center, the Oregon Historical Society, Scripps College or the Portland Art Museum.

Published in StatesmanJournal on Oct. 13, 2009
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