Retired Psychology Professor Passes On
Alice Rabson, former psychology professor at the University of Mary Washington, died Monday, Oct. 22 at the age of 92.
Known around the city of Fredericksburg for her purple Volkswagen bug, plastered with bumper stickers, Rabson was “a real character,” according to Debra Steckler, chair of the psychology department.
Rabson also taught at Cornell University, the Fels Research Interview, Perdue University and the Merrill-Palmer Institute, before becoming a professor at UMW in 1969.
While teaching at UMW, Rabson focused on developmental psychology, according to Steckler. Rabson concentrated on adolescent adult development, personality and general psychology.
When Steckler first came to UMW in the mid-1980s, she shared an office with Rabson in Goolrick Hall while Chandler Hall was being renovated.
“She was a real character,” said Steckler. “She was very passionate about psychology.”
In the classroom, Steckler said that Rabson was able to bring psychology to life.
“She would talk about theorists as if she knew them in real life and was good friends with them,” said Steckler.
Rabson was a very independent and strong individual, and, according to Steckler, nothing could intimidate her.
“She was really interested in, not only psychology, but the world,” said Steckler.
Every summer she would travel around the world. While most people took cruise ships, Rabson hopped aboard cargo ships to see the world.
Rabson retired in 1985 and joined the Peace Corps at the age of 65 after her 15 year tenure at UMW.
Her family held a memorial on Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Fredericksburg.
Rabson’s daughter, Ann Rabson, is a world-renowned blues pianist and Rabson’s son, Steve Rabson, is an adjunct instructor at UMW for the classics, philosophy and religion department.