Ethel Elise Rasmusson

Published 1:16 pm Friday, January 25, 2013

Ethel Elise Rasmusson


Ethel Elise Rasmusson, age 90, of Montevallo, died Jan. 13, 2013. Born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Chicago, Ill., she was the only child of Harald D. and Ethel Forthman Rasmusson. She received a bachelor’s degree in arts from the University of Chicago in 1944, an master’s from the University of Chicago in 1947 and a doctorate in history from Brown University in 1962.

Her academic research and publications reflect her lifelong interest in environmental and social issues. One scholar credited her with being “one of the first to document the social life of the nation’s elite ruling groups in Philadelphia and systematically analyze issues of class formation in the early republic,” especially as these impacted on the development of political structures in the growing democracy. Yet commitment to environmental preservation and social justice went far beyond her scholarly interests. An avid birder, she was a committed member of The Nature Conservancy. An advocate for social justice and educational opportunity, she was a faithful supporter of the American Association of University Women and of Parnell Memorial Library, Montevallo’s public library and cultural center. Dr. Rasmusson was instrumental in founding scholarships at the University of Montevallo honoring the achievements of Dr. Lucille Griffith and of Dr. Hallie Farmer, both prominent pioneer educators and advocates for progressive reforms.

Ethel Rasmusson taught history at the University of Montevallo in the early 1950s and had several short-term teaching appointments while working on her Ph.D. However, she spent most of her teaching career at Central Connecticut State University, from 1963 until her retirement in 1985 as Professor of History Emerita. Following her retirement, she moved back to Montevallo to be near her longtime friend and travel companion, Dr. Lucille Griffith. Dr. Rasmusson is survived by her aunt, Nadine Lewis Crane, of Old Town, Fla., and by numerous special friends in Alabama and Connecticut.

Memorial gifts may be given to the University of Montevallo, designating either the AAUW Hallie Farmer Legacy Scholarship or the Dr. Lucille B. Griffith Scholarship, or to The Nature Conservancy.