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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 5
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


"She is such an exceptional woman," Ridderhof said. "She is going to be doing and giving for a long time."

Retirement? Never

When Rabson retired from Mary Washington College in 1985, she didn't stay home and garden.

Instead, she joined the Peace Corps in 1986. At 65, she was one of the oldest volunteers in the organization.

She was sent to the Marshall Islands, a group of South Pacific islands. She lived for two years with a native family in Majuro, the capital, and taught psychology, human development and English at the local college. She also wrote and distributed pamphlets on health issues.

Alice loved the friendliness and love the Marshallese show each other and to strangers.

"When you walk in the streets you greet each other by saying, 'Yokwe,' meaning 'I love you,'" Rabson said.

Her main accomplishment was a study of the high suicide rate on the island among the young men, she said.

"The boys felt things were changing," she said. "The Marshall Islands was moving into a monetary economy, and the boys worried about their future. Some had problems and were not doing well in school."

Since her return to Fredericksburg in 1988, Rabson has continued to do what she does best--advocate.

For some years, she taught at Germanna Community College and provided lectures at colleges and community organizations on the problems of women in modern society--her favorite subject.

"I've always been interested in the way people are looked at in our culture in terms of sex roles and how parents treat them," Rabson said.

Her efforts were recognized in 1989, when she was cited as Citizen of the Year by Fredericksburg Elks Lodge 875 for her work with the Peace Corps. She was the first woman to receive the award.

She still fights for her convictions--gay rights, opposition to the death penalty and religious freedom--by attending demonstrations or handing out literature for the Democratic Party at her local precinct every Election Day.

If she isn't counseling at the Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence, then she is attending Mary Washington ElderStudy. It is a program at the university where a group of local senior citizens meets for educational programs on varying topics.

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