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The Fading of a Rainbow

Loss of a Neighborhood Icon: DeeDee Rainbow (December 2013)

We learned that long time Madrona resident, DeeDee Rainbow, died just shortly before the newsletter deadline. A native of Seattle, DeeDee moved around the country after marriage until her husband, Peter Raible, was called to be the minister of the University Unitarian Church.

DeeDee was an art teacher at Meany Middle School for 29 years, and she was a walking work of art in her colorful robes, glittered hair and wand. She was a fan of jazz, and Paul deBarros in his wonderful obituary in the Seattle Times quoted jazz radio emcee Jim Wilkie: "When I was emceeing a concert, and I saw that flash of color, I knew it was an official event."

We were fortunate to attend her 80th birthday, and the multitude of friends that gathered at her Madrona home were as colorful as her outfit; stimulating conversations and remembrances were heard no matter which room you found yourself in.

We will miss this rainbow of light who was a welcome antidote to our frequent gray skies. A celebration of her life, including a New Orleans-style funeral march will be held at University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave NE, January 4 at 1pm.

The Fading of a Rainbow (January 2014)

DeeDee Rainbow’s ashes were laid to rest in the memorial garden at University Unitarian Church on January 4, 2014, following a memorial service unlike any I have ever attended. We had been urged to wear something colorful, a challenge for me in the winter when my wardrobe seems to mimic the drab outside world. A rack of DeeDee’s colorful robes was provided for those color impaired, if they promised to take the garment away with them.

The sanctuary was packed and latecomers (including Clarence Acox and me) were seated in the fellowship hall with sound piped in and a limited distant view of the speakers. Those who offered tributes at the church were all family members. It was interesting to hear DeeDee’s sister speak as she made it clear that DeeDee’s fascination with color and need to interact was not a late development, but began at an early age. She mentioned a family trip to the museum where once inside the building, they realized DeeDee was no longer with them, so they retraced their steps and found DeeDee (somewhere around age 4) on the front steps greeting folks as they entered and bestowing good wishes with her little wand. The father turned to the mother and asked “Where did she come from?”

One of the grandsons spoke of the walks from the family home to the Hi-Spot for a scone, a trip that took about 4 hours instead of the ten minutes it should take, as they would meet and greet along the way. Musical tributes included Over the Rainbow, Rainbow Lady and Mama. The one hymn we all sang was the truly befitting Let it be a Dance. Immediately following the service, the crowd gathered on the sidewalk outside to follow the New Orleans Jazz Band around the block, waving colorful umbrellas as they marched.

Once back at the church, the crowd gathered in the Fellowship Hall for a champagne toast given by the folks from California, who had marched with DeeDee in the parade that marked the beginning of each year’s Monterey Jazz festival. But that was not the end; after the reception, there was another gathering at the Wedgwood Ale House with jazz and tributes from others who knew DeeDee. All in all, it was quite a tribute to a colorful woman who taught us to enjoy this life to the fullest; she would say “This is not a dress rehearsal.”

~Diane Snell

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