Alan Rabinowitz

Date of Birth

January 18th, 1927

Date of Death

November 9th, 2017

Memorial Meeting

University Friends Meeting


Alan Rabinowitz, a beloved member of University Meeting died on November 29, 2017, at the age of 90. Born in New York City on January 18, 1927 he was the youngest of the three children of Aaron and Clara Rabinowitz. Though he did not join Friends until 1991, Alan's relationship with the Society was much longer and closer than that might suggest. He married Friend Andrea Wolf in 1951, and during their years in Cambridge, Massachusetts he regularly attended Meeting with her, she having her membership there. Indeed, they both so loved, and were faithful to, the Cambridge Meeting that they had been in Seattle for 20 years before they were ready, he to request membership and she to transfer hers. Once that occurred, they were active members indeed.

We remember particularly Alan's service on our Personnel Committee and two lengthy terms on our Finance Committee. Along with Andrea, he was the original group working out details for our QuEST program, which has now for many years been bringing recent college graduates to Seattle to live co-operatively and compare ideas as each apprentices with a different social service agency.

Alan's field was urban economics. A Yale graduate with wartime service in the Navy, he earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a PhD in Urban Studies from MIT. After positions with various institutions, primarily in Cambridge, he was recruited by the University of Washington, where he served as chairman of the Department of Urban Planning. He was the author of seven books in that field – and indeed beyond.

His involvement with Seattle life went of course much further than the Meeting, including, among much else, close work with the ACLU and on the Boards of Town Hall and the Burke Museum. Alan and Andrea gave personal as well as financial support to several burgeoning social justice organizations, many of which benefited children and youth.

Alan and Andrea raised four children, Eric born in Washington D.C., Peter and Martha in New York City, and Katherine in Boston, all before the family's move to Seattle. They kept a home on Martha's Vineyard to which they returned for parts of most summers.

Because a memorial service for Alan would have been beyond the capacity of our Meeting House, it was held instead in the large auditorium of the Rainier Arts Center, and even that was overflowed by a standing room only crowd estimated to have been somewhat over 300 friends and admirers. Clearly not only our Meeting but many others in Seattle wanted to pay tribute to what Alan meant to our communities.