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Rae Galbraith Ballard ’48

a photo of Rae Galbraith Ballard

September 16, 2022, in Bend, Oregon.


Rae Elizabeth Galbraith Ballard was a beautiful soul. She was very smart, having graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Reed at a time when many women (not Reedies!), if they went to college at all, were there just to get an “Mrs.” degree. She was dedicated and persistent, taking two decades to finish her PhD, the pursuit having been put on pause while she married Charles Ballard and raised two children. But she was tenacious, teaching for a semester, then taking graduate courses for a semester, and eventually typing her doctoral thesis in a camping trailer while she and Chuck volunteered as camp hosts during summers at Jedediah Smith Campground.

Rae was artistic and creative, applying her talents to silk screening, calligraphy, jewelry making, and fabric arts, as well as other media. She was a poet, with several published pieces, and both a participant in and a teacher of poetry workshops. She loved the printed word and always surrounded herself with books, with Chuck scrambling to build more and more shelves to keep up.

She was a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother, a fierce mamma bear, and a passionate advocate for friends, family, and colleagues. Eventually she was appointed the chair of the English and foreign languages department at Pasadena City College. Rae was an educator who loved to learn and expand her horizons. She was ahead of her time.

Sadly, after 68 years of (very happy) marriage, when Chuck died in January 2020, she found herself living alone for the first time. When the pandemic plunged her into total isolation only two months later, Rae became untethered, and her children moved her back to Oregon so daughter Laurie could manage her care. There she had the joy of seeing grandson Jesse Fishkin ’22 graduate from Reed last May, his senior thesis on the ethics of hospice having been dedicated to her.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2023

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