Rosella Howe

26 Oct

Note:   It was Rosella and Hartley Howe who inherited most of Lizzie’s furniture, books, etc. that Grace Hartley Howe had inherited from Lizzie’s Will.  Her son Edward H. Howe, was subsequently given many of those items.

She was the wife of Hartley Howe, son of Louis McHenry Howe and Grace Hartley Howe.  Grace was second cousin to Lizzie Borden.
September 10, 2009

WESTPORT, MASS. — Rosella Senders Howe, poet, feminist, political adviser, and Lewis Carroll scholar, died at home on Thursday, September 10, after a long illness. She was 97.

Mrs. Howe was born March 28, 1912, in Exeter, N.H., and grew up in Cambridge, Mass., where she graduated from Cambridge Latin School and attended Radcliffe College for two years, majoring in psychology. In her first job after college, she put her new-found knowledge of the human psyche and her excellent command of the English language to immediate use, responding to irate letters for Macy’s complaint department.

She went on to study dance in New York’s Greenwich Village with Charles Weidman, a pioneer of modern dance, but said she gave it up after a tour stop in Providence when she found herself sharing a dressing room with a circus elephant. Despite this traumatic encounter with a pachyderm, she remained in excellent physical condition for the rest of her life.

Before World War II, she worked for the American Red Cross in Boston. During this time, she met Hartley Howe, a newspaperman who was the son of Louis McHenry Howe, President Franklin Roosevelt’s best friend and political advisor. They were married in 1941 and moved to Washington D.C. , where she worked for the Office of Indian Affairs and then for Sidney Hillman, head of the labor division of the War Production Board, writing speeches and news releases.

After their first son was born and Mr. Howe returned from the war 10 months later, the Howes moved to Queens, New York. Here Mrs. Howe concentrated on their growing family of three boys and a girl while she and Mr. Howe were active in the Democratic Party, the Americans for Democratic Action, and the American Civil Liberties Union. She later taught English as a Second Language at Queens College and befriended many of her foreign students, who adored her.

Once their children were grown, the Howes moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where Mr. Howe was a journalism professor and Mrs. Howe finished up her degree in linguistics and studied Japanese. She became active in the Wisconsin Humanities Council, where she taught poetry and writing to adult students. She was a prolific poet herself, excelling in clever puns, visual metaphors, and acid social criticism.

She was known to drive a thousand miles to sample the country’s best oysters, played a wicked game of tennis, and provided strategic advice to the campaigns of politicians such as (Congressman) Barney Frank and (former Fall River mayor) Ed Lambert, among others. With a fascination for language and a vibrant imagination, she was drawn to the works of Lewis Carroll and traveled to many meetings of the Lewis Carroll Society. Over the years, she also mentored many young adults, especially women, always urging them to follow their career dreams.

Mrs. Howe is survived by three sons, David S. Howe, of New York City, Edward H. Howe of Jamaica Plain, Mass., and Henry S. Howe of Gallup, N.M.; one daughter, Rosemary Howe Camozzi of Florence, Ore.; by two sisters, Virginia Browne of Wayland, Mass., and Henrietta Jacobsen of Austin, Texas, and a brother, John Senders of Toronto, Canada; and by 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Her husband Hartley died in 1996.

A memorial celebration for friends and family will be held October 24, at 3 p.m., at the Westport Friends Meeting, 930 Main Road, Westport, Mass.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mrs. Howe’s honor may be made to Emily’s List, 1120 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036.


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