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Jean's Story

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Jean (Anderson) Raabe, 85, died peacefully at home on January 30, 2017 in Alexandria, VA, with her husband Mark and sister Alice at her side. Jean was successfully treated for lung cancer for more than eight years and died of complications which included rapidly progressing dementia. She had in-home hospice care for two weeks but she cheerfully attended a worship service in her downtown church and a string quartet concert at NIH the week before she died.
Jean was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1931, the oldest of four children of Dewar and Elizabeth (Davies) Anderson. Her family moved to Truman, Minnesota, and later to Madelia, Minnesota, where she was Salutatorian of the class of 1949 and the Homecoming Queen. She obtained her teaching degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Jean taught Home Economics for three years in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota before marrying Mark Raabe in 1956. They began their more than 60-year marriage in San Diego, where Mark was stationed on a Navy ship and where she continued her teaching career.
In 1958, the couple moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Jean immediately began taking teaching assignments until she started fulltime at Wakefield High School in Arlington where she taught Home Economics for more than 25 years. Jean loved teaching and her students gave every indication of loving her. She led innovative programs in foods and child development classes, that combined her passions for cooking, nutrition, and the teaching and care of children. It was a time when boys began taking Home Ec. In 1967, a Washington Post reporter visited her classroom with an even mix of girls and boys and described Jean as "a tiny woman with a wide smile and an uncanny knack of keeping her teenage charges interested and enthusiastic." A year later, another newspaper account quoted Jean saying, "Boys add a lot to a foods class, and I don't just mean their appetites.... they're interested and enjoy it so. They're more willing to experiment with a recipe and try new things. They'll give you an argument to defend something they've done." After retiring, she volunteered weekly, teaching teenage mothers how to cook in the Alternatives for Parenting Teens Program. Jean was active in her professional groups, the Northern Region of the Virginia Association Family and Consumer Sciences, and the Potomac Home Economists. She was also a member of the Arlington Retired Teachers Association.
After Jean retired, she and Mark purchased a 100-year-old cabin, with a guest cabin, on Woman Lake in northern Minnesota. For the past twenty-five years, they have welcomed many friends and family, especially all their beloved great nieces and nephews, and they have hosted many special family gatherings there. Jean learned how to fish, and she enjoyed catching more and larger walleyes than her husband during their special evening times together on the lake with glorious sunsets.
Jean and Mark traveled extensively with many of their trips focusing on nature, wildlife and birds. In 1973, when bluebird populations were down by 90%, and declining, Jean spotted the couple's first bluebird near Antietam National Battlefield where they had a weekend cabin. This led them to becoming charter members of The North American Bluebird Society, the establishment and monitoring of a100 nest box trail on the Battlefield, and the fledging of more than 10,000 Eastern Bluebirds over 37 years.
Jean was an early volunteer and passionate supporter of The Children's Inn at NIH, a nonprofit residence for families and their children who are participating in pediatric research at the NIH. She also served for many years on the Board of and volunteered at Community Family Life Services, a nonprofit providing a network of social services for low income and homeless families.
Jean was a faithful longtime member of First Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Washington, DC, served as an Elder, and participated in many service activities of the congregation.
Jean loved beautiful music, and she and Mark were regulars at concerts of the National Symphony Orchestra and the Manchester String Quartet. She also loved flowers, growing them along with vegetables in her Antietam garden.
Jean will be remembered for many good things, but above all, for her abundant kindness and her generosity towards anyone in need. She was considerate of every person in her life and earned the admiration of those who met her. She held keen insights and strong morals, which she was undaunted in sharing, but she never judged others who believed differently. She was a gracious and generous host, creating environments of comfort, beauty, fine food, and delightful conversation. When Jean told a story, she would captivate the entire room. She was attentive and devoted to her family, making every child and adult feel honored and adored.
Jean is survived by her loving husband of more than 60 years, Mark Raabe, with whom she shared her life completely. She is also survived by her brother Steven (Patricia) Anderson; sisters Alice (Bob) Morrice and Margaret (Dick) Jacobs; brother-in-law Bob Raabe; sister-in-law Rita (Larry) Williams; 17 nieces and nephews; and 26 "greats" (great-nieces and nephews).
A memorial service is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 25, at First Trinity Lutheran Church, 309 E St. NW, Washington, DC.
A second memorial service will be held on June 3rd in Minnesota at their lake cabin on Woman Lake.
All are welcome to attend and celebrate Jean's life. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to The Children's Inn at NIH, 7 West Drive, Bethesda, MD 20814 (designate the Jean and Mark Raabe Education Endowment Fund), or online at www.childrensinn.org/donate; or to CFLS, 305 E St., NW, Washington, DC 20001 or online at www.cflsdc.org/donate.
Published on February 19, 2017
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