Renée Sue Lipson died peacefully in Maryland, on May 1, 2020, close to her daughter, Jodi (Larry Groner), and granddaughter, Johannah, the light of her life.
Her lifelong passions were politics, the arts and family. Throughout her life, her family as well as friends — including childhood friends, who she stayed close to — found her to be an independent thinker and a force of nature.
Born Dec. 10, 1930, in Cleveland, where her dad owned a gas station and her mom was dedicated to social causes, she graduated cum laude from Case Western University in 1952 and married Leon Lipson, an engineer with Republic Steel. They moved to Youngstown, where she sang with the Youngstown Philharmonic Chorus, joined an artists’ group — creating beautiful artwork and lifelong friends — and earned a master’s in education. She courageously divorced Leon in 1963 and, with two young daughters, returned to Cleveland, where she taught elementary school. She earned a master’s degree in guidance counseling from John Carroll University and became first a guidance counselor at Warrensville Heights schools and, later, an educator at the Children’s Psychiatric Ward-University Hospitals and a director of substance abuse at the Cleveland Health Museum and Education Center. In 1973, she moved to East Lansing, Michigan, to work for the state in substance abuse prevention education while building up a professional consultant business in management and organizational development. She earned a doctorate in human resource development at Michigan State University.
The following years in Michigan, she developed her consultancy in management, helped launch the Women in Management Network, served on the East Lansing Fine Arts Commission, and became more active in political causes. She moved back to her hometown of Cleveland in 1990, fundraising for and giving generously to pro-choice candidates and issues. In 2000, she was an Ohio delegate for Bill Bradley to the Democratic National Convention. She returned in 2004 to the Democratic National Convention as a John Kerry delegate, where she, like others, was awed by then-Senator Barack Obama’s speech. (C-SPAN followed her experience there over three days; Google “CSPAN Renée Lipson;” fast forward to about 40 minutes.) She ushered at Severance Hall, held season tickets with friends to the Cleveland Playhouse, was active in the Jewish Secular Community, and spent her summers enjoying lectures, concerts, and dance at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. In her 80s, after her eldest tragically died of melanoma, Renée moved to Maryland to be near her remaining daughter and the light of her life, her granddaughter.
She was predeceased by daughter Sheri Ellen Lipson Bidwell (Tom Ricci) and survived by daughter Jodi Faith Lipson (Laurence Groner) and granddaughter Johannah Beth Groner.
A virtual shiva was held over Zoom. Donations may be made to your favorite Democratic pro-choice candidate.