Dana Louise Raphael

RaphaelDana Louise Raphael, 90, on Feb. 2, 2016, in Westport, Conn., from complications of congestive heart failure. Dana was born on Jan. 5, 1926 in New Britain, Conn., the third child of Naomi Kaplan and Louis Raphael, founder of a chain of department stores in northwest Connecticut. Dana had a nanny and saw her revered, beautiful mother only an hour a day. She met Howard Boone Jacobson at Columbia University, where in spite of dyslexia, she received a bachelor’s and doctorate in anthropology. She and Howard married in 1953 and he read to her the voluminous books required for her major. She introduced the term “doula” in 1969, now used widely for the person who is a nonmedical assistant in prenatal care, labor, and postnatal care.

Dana was drawn to the Quaker peace testimony, and when she joined Wilton (Conn.) Meeting in 1972, she had already participated in many anti Vietnam War protests. Somewhat deaf herself, she penned a poem exhorting those who gave messages to speak up without mumbling, and it sits in the foyer of Wilton Meetinghouse: “When a message fills thy heart / And thee is moved to speak / For heaven’s sake, and ours as well / Thy words we anxious seek. / Since heaven’s ears are ever turned / But ours just mortal be / Sing loud thy missive to be heard / By heaven and by me. / Thus don’t be humble, / Please don’t mumble!”

She also wrote and published her seminal first book, The Tender Gift: Breastfeeding, in 1973 and founded the Human Lactation Center in 1975 with the help of her mentor, anthropologist Margaret Mead. The center reached a wide audience as an NGO with consultative status at the United Nations. In 1976–1982, she produced the journal Lactation Review.

She wrote five books, including Only Mothers Know: Patterns of Infant Feeding in Traditional Cultures, and more than 50 articles, some for Friends Journal, including, in 1985, “Why I Hate Business Meeting, with a Call for Enduring Patience.” Traveling widely to India, Japan, China, Indonesia, and all over the U.S., doing research and in symposia, in her last decades, working to support survivors of childhood sexual abuse (including by the clergy), ritual abuse, and torture. Her eleventh commandment was “Thou shalt not commit incest.” She worked on climate change and women’s rights on the U.S. Board of the Club of Rome and was an adjunct professor at Yale University School of Medicine and recipient of two Fulbright awards.

She also enthusiastically backed her son Brett’s Connecticut Ballet, passing out flyers, attending every performance, and inviting members of the meeting to join her. Into her 80s, she took ballet lessons herself. Her home was the center of many a gathering of f/Friends, where Howard cooked and Dana talked, leading discussions on subjects such as how to increase the membership of Wilton Meeting, childhood abuse, and Quaker women’s sense of worth. Friends remember her for her passion about issues and for the love she gave to her many friends.

Dana was predeceased by her husband, Howard Boone Jacobson. She is survived by three children, Brett Raphael, Seth Jacobson (Cindy Short), and Jessa Murnin (Jim); and six grandchildren.

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