Rose Benté Lee Ostapenko, philanthropist and businesswoman, dies at 95

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Rose Benté Lee Ostapenko died July 20 in Arlington. She was born in Fulda, Germany, May 14, 1919, the youngest of 12 children. She studied dress design at the Marian School in Fulda.

In the late 1930s, she immigrated to the United States to join her family.

She married Raymond H. Benté, and together they founded The Sewing Shop that eventually became The House of Fine Fabrics. When Raymond died, she ran the business herself until it was sold in 1978.

She married Robert E. Lee, a commissioner and chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and became active as a philanthropist. She became a member of the Marymount University board of trustees. In 1984, she established the Rose Benté Lee Endowment Scholarship in Nursing. Through a generous gift, she established the Rose Benté Lee Center at the university.

"The entire Marymount University family is saddened by the loss of Rose Benté Lee (Ostapenko). She was a long-standing member of our board of trustees, a great supporter of the university for decades, and has been a great inspiration to many of our students. She will be missed not only by the Marymount family but by everyone whose lives she touched," said Marymount President Matthew D. Shank.

In addition to Marymount, she was a supporter of Niagara University in New York and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

After the death of her second husband Robert, she married Rear Adm. William M. Ostapenko in 1999.

Ostapenko was a supporter of Virginia Hospital Center and served on its board of directors.

The Arlington Diocese was a frequent benefactor of Ostapenko's generosity. She donated money to support the building of the St. Rose of Lima Priests Retirement Villa in Annandale.

A viewing will take place July 24 from 2 to 4 p.m., and 6 to 8 p.m., at Murphy Funeral Home of Arlington, 4510 Wilson Blvd. The funeral Mass will be celebrated 10:30 p.m., July 25 by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde with Father James R. Gould, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton, as the homilist at St. Agnes Church, 1910 North Randolph St, Arlington. Interment will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Marymount University, Rose Benté Lee Nursing Scholarship Fund, Attn: Office of Advancement, 2807 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Va., or to St. Rose of Lima Priest Retirement Home, Arlington Diocese, 200 North Glebe Road, Suite 811, Arlington, Va. 22203.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970