Dee was born Doris Mildred Stevens in Passaic, NJ on October 25, 1930, the daughter of Eugene and Mildred Stevens. She passed on August 22, 2011, in Hayward, CA, at the age of 80. A memorial service was held at Strawberry Creek Lodge, Berkeley, California, on September 24, 2011.
Dee graduated from Florida State University in the 1950s and then traveled to Japan to serve as a missionary. There, she met Vern Rossman, whom she married in 1955. The couple had four children over the next six years and served as missionaries and English teachers in Japan for a total of eight years.
Moving their family to Indianapolis in 1963, they became active in Democratic electoral politics, focusing on anti-Vietnam War and civil rights activities. For Dee, this marked a lifetime commitment to peace, justice and equality. Over summers, Dee and Vern spent their days involved in voter registration, political organizing and the struggle against segregation and racist violence. Their children meanwhile lived in the homes of black ministers’ families and spent their days in “Freedom School,” alongside black children, learning about equality and justice, and singing songs such as “O Freedom!” and “We Shall Overcome!”
The family moved in 1971 to Montclair NJ where Dee would attend Rutgers University and earn a Master’s in Urban Planning as well as obtaining a broker's license and becoming involved in real estate sales. Combining these skills with her passion for affordable housing, Dee was one of the founding members of HOMEcorp in Montclair.
She was an active member of NJ SANE (now NJ Peace Action) and the Essex County Branch of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Dee's commitment to educating her community, on both local and national social justice issues, drove her to activism throughout her life. Her work was characterized by reflection, followed with strategic action.
She became a member of Montclair Friends Meeting in 1995, working with others on peace, justice and environmental issues. She transferred her membership to Strawberry Creek Friends Meeting in Berkeley, CA, when she relocated to Northern California in 2002 to be near her children Wendy and Paul and their extended families. She was a valued member of the Friends community and remained active as long as her health permitted, serving on committees including: Pacific Yearly Meeting’s Unity with Nature; Strawberry Creek Monthly Meeting’s Retreat, Oversight and Peace, Earthcare and Social Witness committees; she also worked on the Friends’ environmental magazine, Earthlight. Dee participated in community affairs beyond Strawberry Creek in the Richmond Iron Triangle, and in the Strawberry Creek Lodge senior housing community where she lived.
Dee is survived by her four children, Wendolynn Warda, Wayne Ken, Paul and Bruce Rossman, and four grandchildren Anukene and Anusheh Warda and Evan and Amanda Rossman.
In so many ways, the word community is the thread that runs through her whole life. Dee’s childhood was marked by the Great Depression and its hardships. The family moved repeatedly. It was almost as if, having been denied the benefits of community as a child, Dee made it her business to go out in the world and create community. Friends remember Dee fondly for her spirit, her dedicated tenacity, and her wonderful twinkle.