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Obituary: Louise Roth terHorst

Louise Roth terHorst died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease on Saturday morning, March 21, 2009 at her residence in the Givens Estates retirement community in Asheville, N.C. She was 88.

Born Louise Jeffers Roth on Aug. 24, 1920 to Joseph Nathanial Roth and May Howell Roth of Germantown, Penn., she was the oldest of four children (siblings Margaret, Charles and John). Louise spent her childhood and early teen years in Arlington Heights, Ill., where her father worked as an engineer for Montgomery Ward. His work took the family to Belding, Mich., where Louise finished high school. During the Depression era, Louise and her family provided a home for her grandmothers, as well as relatives who had lost jobs.

Louise attended Albion College for one year, and then transferred to Michigan State University (MSU) where she earned a BS in Food Science, completing the last of her classes after her marriage and the birth of her first child in 1948. At MSU she met her future husband, Jerald "Jerry" Franklin terHorst, while both were working for the Michigan State News.

From 1942 to 1944, Louise worked as a reporter at the Grand Rapids Herald in Grand Rapids Mich. She married Jerry on Jan. 20, 1945, while he was on leave from the U.S. Marines Corps during World War II. She subsequently moved to San Diego, Calif., where Jerry was based. The couple moved back to Michigan after the war, where Jerry found work as a Grand Rapids Press reporter.

Louise bore four children between 1948 and 1957, and the family moved frequently in their early years of marriage. When Jerry went to work as a reporter for the Detroit News, the family moved to Lansing, Mich., then to Detroit, and finally to Alexandria, Va. in 1957.

With four children under the age of 10, Louise managed a busy household as well as her children’s extracurricular activities. She also became an active member of the Northern Virginia Democratic Party. Because her husband’s career elevated him to the post of White House correspondent, Louise led an active social life among the city’s national news reporters, politicians and lobbyists, and the couple received regular invitations to attend functions at the White House during several administrations.

In 1974, Louise returned to work as her husband’s assistant when he became a syndicated columnist and public speaker following his resignation as Press Secretary to President Ford.

Louise was a passionate supporter of the local arts, as well as the artists of the Southern Handicrafts Guild Association in the southern Appalachian Mountains. She and Jerry took yearly trips to the south to visit their four children and eight grandchildren, attend craft fairs, and purchase arts and crafts from many up-and-coming artisans.

In November 2006, Louise and Jerry moved to the Givens Estates retirement community Asheville, N.C. Louise was soon diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and she lived in the Starnes assisted living unit during the final two years of her life.

Louise is survived by her husband Jerry of 64 years; her sister, Margaret Mirti of Las Vegas, Nev.; her four children, Karen Morris of Decatur, Ga.; Margaret "Peggy" Robinson of Alexandria, Va.; Peter terHorst of Asheville, N.C.; Martha Lubin of St. Petersburg Fla.; and her eight grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in Alexandria, Va. in June; details will be provided a future date.

Donations in Louise’s memory may be sent to: Friends School of Atlanta, 862 Columbia Dr., Decatur, GA 30030; MemoryCare, 100 Far Horizons Ln., Asheville, NC 28803; United Community Ministries, 7511 Fordson Rd., Alexandria, VA 22306.