Arvella Doris Embry Whitmore, born on March 14, 1922, died peacefully on March 13, 2020, surrounded by family members just a few hours before what would have been her 98th birthday. She is preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, Page Gregory Whitmore, her brother Herbert Crandell Embry, and her parents Horace and Margaret Embry.
She is survived by her children (and their spouses): Bruce Whitmore (Dee Mitchell), Clark Whitmore (Cheryl), Laura Ranum (Robert) and Diane Whitmore, along with nephew, Dennis Embry (Richard Klingaman).
She is also survived by her grandchildren (with spouses); Page Whitmore (Stephen Segroves), Nelson Whitmore (Camilla), Paul Ranum (Susan Kenzie), Madeline Ranum, Claire Whitmore, and Charles Whitmore (Jessica), along with one great-grandchild Graham Whitmore, and two step-great-grandchildren, Eva and Truman Segroves.
Arvella earned graduate degrees in law (Washburn University) and drama (University of Iowa). She taught speech and theater at Marymount College, Salina, Kansas, before raising four children.
In the 1970s, she wrote and directed plays for the Minneapolis Public Schools, one of which challenged race-based bias. She also published historical fiction novels for children including:
You’re a Real Hero Amanda
The Bread Winner
Trapped Between the Lash and the Gun
In a postscript in her last novel she said she was proud to be the great-granddaughter of a freed African American woman. She received The Maud Hart Lovelace Minnesota Youth Reading Award, The Detroit Book Award, and was recognized by the Society of Midland Authors for Outstanding Accomplishment in the Category of Children’s Fiction.
Arvella was an Episcopalian for over 60 years and a member of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis. She was always active in social justice causes helping to feed the hungry, supporting the ordination of women, and arguing for the dignity and equality of women through various civic organizations.
Arvella and Page lived for over 50 years in the same house overlooking Lake Nokomis in South Minneapolis, before moving to Boutwell’s Landing, Stillwater, Minnesota.
Her children express their deepest gratitude to the staff at Boutwell’s Landing for their exceptional care and remarkable kindness during Arvella’s final years.
Arvella’s Service of Burial will be held in Minneapolis and announced in the upcoming weeks. Her remains will be interred at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that any donations be made to a charity of their choice or to the Keller NICU Fund 11959 University of Minnesota (University of Minnesota Foundation, PO Box 860266, Minneapolis MN 55486). Include in memo: In memorial of Arvella Whitmore.
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