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The life of an AGELESS ACTIVIST A women's rights protester, a pioneering professor, a Peace Corps volunteer at age 65--Alice Rabson makes a difference page 2
Alice Rabson is one of Fredericksburg's local legends. She's helped shape Fredericksburg in the last 36 years. By Jessica Allen

 Rabson brings her faithful pet, Arthur, last month to the Unitarian Universalist Felowship's Blessing of the Animals service.
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Date published: 6/18/2005

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But Rabson, who majored in sociology and anthropology, wanted to quit Cornell her first year.

Most classes were too easy, she thought, and many of the girls she met weren't as interested in academics as much as they were in getting married, she said.

Rabson couldn't relate to them. She loved learning.

Her father advised Alice to stay for the rest of the year and then make her decision.

She listened to him and ended up loving Cornell. Alice also fell in love with Gus Rabson, a fellow student.

The two married in 1941 and she graduated the following year.

Since Gus worked as a mathematician for the Departments of Agriculture and Labor during World War II, the newlyweds constantly traveled.

After the war ended, they moved to Michigan and then to Indiana, where Gus taught at Purdue University.

By this time, the Rabsons had two children. Steve is now a professor at Brown University and Ann, who resides in Fredericksburg, is an internationally known blues musician and also plays with Saffire--The Uppity Blues Women.

In 1955, Gus and Alice divorced. Alice worked as a research associate and consultant in psychology at Fels Research Institute and as an instructor at Antioch College, both in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Alice Rabson was actively involved in each state she lived at by joining the ACLU board and attending Civil Rights demonstrations. She was arrested twice.

Alice wasn't alone, either. Like her grandfather, she sometimes had her children by her side at protests. In one case, a barbershop in Ohio refused to cut black children's hair, and Steve and Ann picketed the shop with their mother.

"Studies showed children learn by modeling what their parents say and do as early as 5 years old," Alice said.

Ann Rabson said she agreed. She has passed along the same lessons her mother taught her and even protested during the Vietnam War with her own daughter, Liz.

"I admire [Alice] greatly," Ann said. "She has always been a pacifist and very politically active and giving. My brother and I have learned from that."

Alice Rabson furthered her education by obtaining her Ph.D. at Purdue and later did her post-doctoral fellowship with the Educational Testing Services in Princeton, N.J.


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