Posted on April 24, 2018
Lois Hechinger England was a 5th generation Washingtonian, and lived in the city all of her adult life. She was a graduate of the Sidwell Friends School, a member of the first kindergarten class to attend at the new “suburban campus” on Wisconsin Avenue in the city. She attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
She left college in order to marry Dick England in 1946, to whom she was married for 67 years. Dick went to work for his father-in-law, Sidney Hechinger, at the Hechinger Company, a retail chain of lumber and hardware stores. Her husband served as Chairman of the Board and worked there his entire career until his retirement in 1990.
Lois was a lifelong volunteer who contributed her time, energy, and talents to growing and developing non-profits in Washington DC and nationally. She volunteered at the American Red Cross for over 30 years. She served as vice chairman of the D.C. Chapter Board and as a Social Welfare Aide for them, and became chairperson of a number of committees and chaired the National Red Cross annual 1981 Centennial Convention with over 6000 attendees. At Red Cross, she also served on the committee for the History and Education Center for the National Headquarters and the Advisory Committee for the National Capital Area.
Lois was a past board member of Goodwill Industries International and of Goodwill of Greater Washington and had held leadership positions in both. Her best-known achievement for Goodwill was founding and chairing of the Goodwill Annual Book Sale of Greater Washington. For over 40 years, the used and rare books sold at the book sale produced big revenues for Goodwill. It started in 1971 and earned $600. In the last 5 years of the sale held at the old Washington Convention Center in the city, net income was over $225,000/ year for a 5 day event and drew book dealers from the entire east coast of the United States. She and a small crew of mainly women sorted books for an entire year to prepare for the sale. She also served as Chair of the Goodwill Embassy Tour and was past President of the Goodwill Guild. She was appointed by the Washington Mayor to the Committee for Purchase of Products and Services for the Blind and other Severely Handicapped.
Lois was a President of the Washington Ballet, and served for many years on its board. Among other contributions she made there, she was Co-Chair of the Executive Director Search Committee and on the Artistic Director Search Committee that brought Septime Weber to the ballet. She was also Past Chairman of the Capital Campaign. Additionally, she was also a major contributor to the Ballet.
She was also involved in many Jewish organizations in the community. She was a board member of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and Washington Hebrew Congregation. Her great grandfather was one of the original 21 who formed the congregation. She was an honorary board member of the Jewish Historical Society, and a member of the Executive Committees of the Anti-Defamation League and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She was chair and a longtime volunteer of the Archives Committee at the Washington Hebrew Congregation.
“Jewish life and Jewish history have been a part of my family’s tradition”- said Mrs. England upon receiving the Aunt Minnie Goldsmith Award in 1990. “My parents were always involved in charitable causes, and I’m sure their example helped forge my desire to do something positive for humanity”.
Lois was honored for her commitment to the community by many organizations among them was National Volunteer Goodwill Industries International; The Aunt Minnie Goldsmith Award by The Women’s Auxiliary of the Hebrew Home; Leadership award by United Negro College Fund; Mabel Boardman Award for exceptional volunteer leadership by the American Red Cross; the President’s Award by the Jewish Social Service Agency; B’nai Brith Humanitarian Award by the Union of American Hebrew Congregation; District of Columbia, Commission for Women’s Hall of Fame; the Lee Rubenstein Outstanding Leadership Award by the DC Jewish Community Center; the Patron of the Arts Award by the Cultural Alliance; The Ambassador of Peace Award for Neve Shalom; and the Washington Hebrew Congregation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Lois and Dick founded the England Family Foundation in 1994, which continues to serve the educational community in Washington DC through support of after school programs and programs that ensure that all youth have a chance to graduate high school and college, and have a successful start to careers. The foundation also supports the Jewish community in the local community, nationally, and in Israel.
Lois and Dick had 3 children- Cathy (deceased) of Lexington, Massachusetts, Nonie of Rockville, Maryland, and Rick of Bethesda, Maryland. They also had 8 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren.
The England’s loved to travel, and visited many of the countries of the world. They even visited Antarctica, on one of the first tourist ships to go that continent. Lois made comprehensive scrapbooks of each trip, which are treasures of time and history.
Her children recounted that their mother had a wonderful sense of humor, and an infectious laugh which caused those around her to laugh as well. She was a lover of social events and was devoted to her family.