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Philanthropist Rose Lee dies

Rose Bente Lee visits Germanna Community College in November 2011 meeting with Dr. David Sam and former president Dr. Frank Turnage. Courtesy photo.
Philanthropist Rose Lee dies

Daniel Technology a direct result of her giving


For those familiar with Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko, who died Sunday at the age of 95, she is fondly remembered as the 'Mother of the Daniel Technology Center.'

A retailer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, she was a keen advocate for education particularly preparing today's youth in the technology arena.

To that end, she donated 30 acres of land to the Germanna Educational Foundation in Culpeper focused on their community college.

A philanthropist himself, local businessman Joe Daniel shared her vision for empowering community colleges.

“Ms. Lee made the GCC Daniel Technology Center possible through her very generous donation of land for the facility. She was an outstanding business person who shared her resources with institutions of higher education--specifically Marymount University and Germanna Community College. She was a role model that all of us should strive to duplicate. To top it all off, she was one of the nicest people one could ever hope to meet,” said Daniel.

Born in Fuida, Germany, Lee was the youngest of 12 children. Encouraged by her siblings she immigrated to the United States in the 30s.

“She was an immigrant to this county...and authored a book about her story,” said Connie Kincheloe adding, “a conversation with her was an education in itself.”

Her full obituary ran in the Wednesday edition of the Washington Post listing her legion of accomplishments, awards and contribution to the arts, healthcare, education and her church.

Her generosity reached to Culpeper County creating the Daniel Technology Center. Her work with the Salvation Army lead her to donate 60 acres of land in Orange County to Childhelp USA. That land was later sold to help with the acquisition of additional land to benefit their facility in Culpeper.

A portrait of Rose Bente Lee hangs in the lobby of the Daniel Technology Center. Fittingly, she is wearing a lovely fuchsia jacket so characteristic of this spirited woman with a caring heart.

“She was very generous to charities and gave funds to colleges and universities. She also contributed to the Kennedy Center and Wolf Trap,” said local attorney Butch Davies. “She is a truly fine person.”

President of Germanna Community College Dr. David A. Sam welcomed Rose Bente Lee when she visited the college in 2011 and was able to see the direct results of her donation.

"We at Germanna are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko, whose generosity helped make the construction of the Joseph R. Daniel Technology Center possible. Her autobiography, 'Rose Bente Lee: An American Dream,' tells the story of her immigration to the U.S. from Germany in 1939 and how, over time, she built one of Washington D.C.'s most successful businesses, The House of Fine Fabrics, then dedicated herself to helping others. In her book she recalls, "One of my earliest memories is a desire to help the poor, the sick and the elderly." She never forgot where she came from and she appreciated the fact that Germanna students are working hard to lift themselves up by their bootstraps, much as she did. She will be dearly missed.”
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