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Alice Turtledove Meyer MALS ’89

July 19, 2022, in Portland, of cancer.

Alice believed thoughtful, committed people, joining forces, could repair the world. A native Oregonian, she was born on the eve of the Great Depression to David and Fanny Turtledove, who instilled in her an ethos of political engagement and empathy. With a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate, Alice grew into a woman who dedicated her life to community building and activism.

When she was 12 years old, her father drove her to the Portland Expo, where Japanese Americans were forced to surrender for internment. David wanted Alice to see first-hand the government’s injustice against its own citizens. She would always recall the sight of children her age peering out from behind a barbed-wire fence, about to be banished to a camp in Idaho. The experience was an early catalyst in shaping her lifelong fight for social justice.

After graduating from Grant High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Washington. Years later, she completed her MALS degree at Reed, writing her thesis, “Laurelhurst: A Park in the Olmstead Tradition,” advised by Prof. Peter Parshall [art history 1971–2000]. While at UW, she helped organize protests against the Canwell Committee’s persecution of “communist” faculty members.

After starting a family in the ’60s, Alice began her career as a community activist, dedicating 20 years to volunteering with the League of Women Voters of Oregon, where she created the first statewide membership drive in the country. She also led training workshops and chaired the 50th anniversary campaign.

Her volunteerism on behalf of Portland causes produced tangible results in the city she loved. As board president of the Friends of the Multnomah County Library, she oversaw the establishment of an endowment fund and the creation of the Friends Library Store. That was followed by eight years as a member of the Multnomah County Library Advisory Board, including a year as chair. She also did volunteer service work for the Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz, Oregon Teachers Standards and Practices Commission, Oregon Fair Dismissal Board, Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Policy Advisory Committee, and Compassion and Choices.

Curious about the moral, ethical and practical choices brought on by living longer, Alice initiated a series of programs at Congregation Beth Israel called The Longevity Revolution, which advocated taking control of one’s senior years through thoughtful, advanced planning.

A 1988 visit to a synagogue that had become a Jewish history museum in Manchester, England, inspired Alice to do the same in Portland. She shared the idea with Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, and a dedicated team was formed to bring Alice’s vision to fruition. The Oregon Jewish Museum was established with Alice as its first board president. She guided the search to find a permanent brick and mortar home for the museum. Alice was also active in the Oregon Jewish Historical Society and served on the board of the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center, which merged with the Oregon Jewish Museum in 2014.

In response to the 2016 election, she joined Indivisible, a grassroots movement to elect progressive leaders at all levels of government. Alice believed in the democratic principle, that a passionate, educated community can bring about positive change.

She loyally and generously supported Reed, was a member of the now-defunct Reed College Women’s Committee, and co-chaired the committee’s 1996 lecture series “China Today” with Nadja Lilly ’94.

Alice’s brother, Harry Turtledove ’42, described his sister as “house mother to the world.” She sought out friendships with people of all ages and credited younger friends and family members for keeping her mind sharp and her spirit youthful.

She was married for 62 years to Paul Meyer, who predeceased her, and is survived by her three children, David, Sarah, and Andrea.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2022

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