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Rebecca Mary Malm ‘53

Rebecca Mary Malm died Aug. 13, 2017. Rebecca was born in New York State, November 25, 1928, the only child of Lester and Grace (Hall) Hughes. They soon moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where she grew up. Lester died in 1933 and Grace remarried 10 years later.

Rebecca, originally christened with a different name, acquired the nickname Becky in the 6th grade by playing the part of Becky Thatcher in a local radio dramatization of Tom Sawyer. About 40 years later she legally changed her name to Rebecca.

She graduated from Lawrence High School with honors and attended Boston University and Antioch College, graduating from New York University, then going on to Brown University where she got her Master of Arts degree in Sociology and Anthropology. At Brown she met married Donald Malm, a mathematician; they were married in 1957. They lived in New York City, Long Island, and spent a year in the United Kingdom before settling in Michigan, where they raised their only child, daughter Melissa Malm.

Rebecca always loved dance and wanted to be a dancer, and began dance training in her twenties. She studied African and modern techniques in New York (including with Pearl Primus), continuing with modern in the Detroit area. In her thirties and forties she taught dance, performed & choreographed with a local semi-professional company, and founded & choreographed for her own group.

In her fifties, Rebecca became a certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method® of Movement Education and maintained a successful practice for 25 years.

From her teens, Rebecca was a dedicated activist for peace, civil rights, civil liberties, and economic & racial justice. These ideals were formed and supported by lifelong involvement in Unitarian-Universalist congregations.

Rebecca and Donald were devotees and supporters of the arts: painting, sculpture, photography, film, music, theatre, and of course dance.

After Donald retired and they enjoyed some travel, the Malms lived for 10 years in San Francisco, partly to be close to their daughter and son-in-law (Heath Belden). There they added tai chi and Buddhist meditation to their interests, and Rebecca pursued a life-long dream of studying painting. They also joyfully helped with the care of granddaughter Naomi Belden Malm.

In 2011, the entire three-generation family moved to side-by-side houses in Ashland, OR. Rebecca quickly found community and friendship at the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. In 2015, Donald died after 58 years of marriage.

On Aug 12, 2017, Rebecca developed a brain bleed and approximately eight hours later, just before 2 am Aug 13, she took her last breaths peacefully at Ashland Hospital, surrounded by loving family.

The family will be having a memorial at Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Ashland, OR on September 16 from 1-3pm, and asks in lieu of flowers or gifts if people are moved to do so to please contribute in her memory to any social justice or environmental organization, local or national, that connects to their heart.