Arien Ruth Braack Grabbe died at the age of 90 on December 11th, 2011 in the Hi’Iolani Care Center of Kahala Nui in Honolulu, Hawaii. During her long and eventful life, Arien gave much of herself to family, friends and the community.
Born on March 7th, 1921 in Almond, New York, to Peter C. and Nelle Ethel (nÃˆe Brown) Braack, Arien was the second of four daughters. The family lived many years in Nutley, NJ. During the difficult years of the Great Depression, her babysitting earnings were often used to buy groceries. While money was scare, family life was rich, with music playing on the hand wound Victrola, and conversation animating the dinner table. After finishing high school, she took classes at the Julliard School of Music and played the flute in the Nutley Symphony Orchestra.
In 1942 she married Eugene Munter Grabbe of Johnstown, PA. During their 37 years of happy marriage they raised three daughters and a son while living in New Jersey, Southern California, Europe and Hawaii. While Gene worked as a systems engineer for Hughes Aircraft and later TRW, Arien balanced family responsibilities with volunteer service to the PTA, the League of Women Voters, the World Affairs Council and the Fair Housing Council.
The whole family enjoyed getting away for weekends and summer vacations at a family owned beach house in Baja California — fishing, building sand fortresses, swimming and enjoying the sunset with tequila and a beer chaser (adults only). Another highlight of her life was a two year stay in Paris and London with the whole family. In Paris Arien studied French; in London she volunteered as a secretary for the Friends Service Council. She wrote colorful letters to family in the USA, describing the challenges and rewards of life abroad with four children.
By the early 1970’s Arien and Gene lived in Honolulu. Beginning in 1972, she began work as a secretary at the Salvation Army Alcoholism Treatment Facility. She was later employed at Queen’s Medical Center, the Hawaii Psychiatric Association and Kahi Mohala Behavioral Health. She suffered the loss of her life partner in 1980, when Gene died suddenly at the age of 67.
After this major life change Arien worked seven more years until her retirement in 1987. In her newfound free time, she explored many interests, travelling widely, actively supporting liberal causes and local classical music groups, waking up the turtles while snorkeling with friends on early Friday mornings at Haunama Bay, volunteering as receptionist for her beloved Hawaii Public Radio, and generously opening her home on Maunalani Heights to family and friends. Her main regret was not sharing these joys with Gene.
Arien is survived by daughters Willow Follett (Mark) of Bainbridge Island, WA; Linda Louise Grabbe (Terry Chorba) of Atlanta, GA; Anne Elizabeth “Beth” Johnstone (Art) of Portland, OR and John Peter Grabbe of Walpole, MA. She also leaves seven grandchildren.
The family wishes to thank the Hi’Olani Care Center 4th floor nursing staff, Bristol Hospice, Ellen Morales and Lenie Salvania for giving Arien excellent end of life care. Frequent visits from longtime friends also enhanced her quality of life during the last eight months.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, January 14th, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. in the Diamond Head Room at Kahala Nui Retirement community, 4389 Malia Street, Honolulu. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in her memory to Hawaii Public Radio (738 Kaheka Street, Honolulu, HI 96814-3726 and http://www.hawaiipublicradio.org) or Community Advance Practice Nurses Clinic, a service for homeless women and children (173 Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30312 and http://www.capn.org).