Rashel Levine Jeffrey passed away in Missoula, Montana on January 30, 2021, due to complications of COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s disease. The beloved wife and mother is survived by her husband Balfour and children, Thomas and Erica Rose. Rashel was born in Miami, Florida in March 1946 where her life-long nickname “Choo Choo” originated from a train trip as a toddler which resulted in one of her first words- Choo Choo.
Rashel grew up in Queens, New York the child of immigrants from Poland and Russia Elias and Ada Levine. Throughout her life, she remained true to her New York roots. From an early age, she was an avid golfer, spending many hours on the golf course with her father. She also loved arts and theatre attending Broadway performances and cultural events with her mother. Both golf and the arts would remain passions and sources of friendships and joy into her 70s. To Rashel, family and friends were the most important things in her in life and as an only child, she was very close to her cousins and extended family. Music played an important role throughout her life, from the hundreds of live concerts she attended to listening to records at home of her favorite band “The Beatles”.
Rashel attended the University of Michigan where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology. At the University of Michigan, she then pursued a master's degree in social work graduating in 1968. Throughout her career as a social worker, she provided meaningful support for numerous people during difficult times. She helped hundreds of families through the adoption process, worked with veterans living with PTSD, helped people to quit smoking, and traveled the world as a Military Family Liaison Counsellor providing counselling to our country’s military families serving overseas and at home.
While at the University of Michigan she met Balfour Jeffrey, they started dating, fell in love, and married in 1968. They moved to Salt Lake City where Balfour pursued his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Utah and Rashel worked as a clinical social worker with an adoption agency in Salt Lake City. They hiked frequently in the mountains and travelled to Yellowstone, the Tetons, California and many other beautiful places. While in Utah, with the help of professional ski instructors, the New York City girl gave skiing a try. After a few lessons, Rashel and Balfour went skiing together almost every weekend. She developed a love for skiing and became a very good skier and continued to ski in Montana as well as multiple ski trips in Europe.
Rashel and Balfour moved to Missoula in 1976, when Balfour accepted a faculty position in the psychology department at the University of Montana. They soon had two young children Erica Rose and Thomas Balfour. Rashel was a loving, caring, wonderful mother, always engaging them in new activities. The family had a chance to live in England during Balfour’s sabbatical at Cambridge University. It was a special experience for everyone. Rashel loved visiting the historic Cambridge colleges, churches and the botanical gardens. During the school breaks the family had a wonderful time exploring and travelling throughout Europe including Oxford University, Stonehenge, Scotland, Greece, Italy and France.
Rashel was a compassionate individual with an incredible sense of curiosity mixed with a keen sense of humor. She was an ever loving presence in the life of her children and family. She always ensured she was there for her children from taking them to soccer tournaments and ski races to ballet dance recitals. She was a constant source of inspiration, no matter what was happening she would always have some helpful advice or guidance to navigate the challenges that life throws your way. Rashel loved the written word and was a heartfelt correspondent writing letters to family, friends, and in support of causes she believed in.
As her family and friends know, she loved cooking, had shelves of cookbooks and became a very accomplished cook. The whole family thoroughly enjoyed her delicious gourmet meals. Some of her specialities were her French cooking and catering big intricate meals for family and friends. Always up for an adventure, while her children were young she also co-ran a catering company.
Rashel was actively involved in the social fabric of Missoula including a long term book club and women’s group. Throughout her life, Rashel was passionate about community and wellbeing. She acted in many leadership roles both informal and formal including serving on Montana’s Board of Counselling and Social Work. Her positive spirit left lasting imprints on Missoula including her role as one of the founding board members of the Clark Fork School. Rashel felt giving back to her community was important and volunteered for two years on the Montana Air Quality bord to help improve Missoula's air quality standards in the early 1980's.
Rashel was always on the go and she continued her life-long passion of golf participating in regular golf leagues and competing in many state tournaments. Rashel loved the beauty of Montana and a special joy was spending summers at Flathead Lake with family and friends. Her sense of optimism and adventure touched everyone she met. Rashel will be deeply missed by her family, friends and all who knew her. Her memory will be cherished and will live on in the joys of shared music, good food and great stories.
Take a sad song and make it better.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions a small private family service was held at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Missoula on February 8th. In addition, the Jeffrey family is planning a virtual memorial service.
Any charitable donations can be made to the Missoula Food Bank or the Missoula Symphony as she loved sharing a good meal and enjoying live music.
The Missoula Food Bank
The Missoula Symphony