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Rabson leaves legacy of activism
Alice Rabson, a retired UMW professor and passionate activist for many causes, died Monday at age 92

 When Alice Rabson saw a wrong, she wanted to right it. The passionate activist died Monday at 92.
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Date published: 10/24/2012



Alice Rabson could barely see out of her rearview mirror because of all the bumper stickers on the back of her purple Volkswagen Beetle, bold testament to her adamant support for a host of progressive causes.

Though the bumper stickers were a good start at announcing what she stood for, what they couldn't tell you was that Rabson had been an advocate for those causes--civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, human rights--her entire life.

Rabson died Monday morning while sitting at breakfast at Hughes Home in Fredericksburg. She was 92.

Wherever she went, whatever she did, Alice Rabson never shied away from expressing herself.

A retired Mary Washington College psychology professor, she was a co-founder and longtime counselor for the Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence (now known as Empowerhouse).

She was a driving force in the effort to turn Mary Washington College and the University of Virginia co-ed in the early 1970s. She also was one of the first members of the local National Organization for Women chapter.

"I remember NOW working out of Alice's home for several months in the 1970s, lobbying for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment," said her longtime friend Becky Reed, a former Stafford County supervisor and attorney with Rappahannock Legal Services. "Alice had a number of causes that she believed in. But she didn't just believe in them--she got out and worked for them."

Fredericksburg blues singer Gaye Adegbalola remembers another moment from Rabson's early years in town--one that changed Adegbalola's life.

"My father and I were driving on Princess Anne Street by the Selective Service Board, which was in the old Post Office--what's now City Hall," she recalled. "And there, standing all alone in the pouring rain, holding a sign protesting the war in Vietnam, was Alice.

"Any time I have lacked courage to stand up for a cause," Adegbalola said, "the role model who comes to mind is always Alice Rabson."

Rabson was a firm believer in including her children, Ann and Steve, in political activities.

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