Monday, July 14
Lucille Molinelli, a prominent Foggy Bottom resident known for her passionate and thoughtful relationships with the neighborhood and the University, died June 22 in her F Street residence. She was 88.
The Michigan-native moved to Foggy Bottom in 1948, eventually becoming one of the most longstanding and venerable members of the community. Her friends said at a memorial service on Sunday that she was a constant presence in their lives, noting her correspondences and active role in local organizations.
A large crowd packed the Newman Center to pay their respects, including District residents, local politicians, University employees and current and former GW students.
“I think there are so many of us here today because Lucille was an incredible conversationalist and an even better listener,” said her daughter Jamie Molinelli, who works as a veterinarian in Baltimore, Md.
Lucille Molinelli lived in 1900 F Street with her husband and daughter before it became Thurston Hall, and spent most of her life at 2150 F Street. She was an active member of the Foggy Bottom Citizens Association, West End Citizens Association and the Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of The District of Columbia.
Michael Jeremiah was one of the many GW students that Molinelli befriended, mentored and occasionally enlisted for help around her house. He said their long friendship was born when he met her in 2001 outside of the Newman Center.
“There wasn’t a week that went by where I didn’t get something from her in the mail,” Jeremiah said. “Even when I took time off from GW, she would always write.”
Jeremiah described Molinelli as “the grande dame of Foggy Bottom.” She often shared her cookies and other home-baked treats with students, UPD officers and neighbors in return for a ride to an appointment or help taking out the trash.
“She was the bridge between GW and the community,” Jeremiah said. “We always came to her house leaving more loved than when we arrived.”
Her daughter said it was like stumbling upon her mother’s second life when she sifted through the hundreds of letters, thank-you notes, newspaper clippings and other messages on her kitchen table.
“It took me four days to go through everything,” she said. “And that was just the last six months.”
Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who attended the memorial service, reflected on the first time he met the Molinellis.
“Somebody told me, if you’re going to run for D.C. Council, you’ve got to meet Jimmy and Lucille Molinelli,” Evans said. “I went and thankfully, Lucille was there. Jimmy was tough, to say the least.”
He added, “She will be missed in this community. She was so dedicated, so thoughtful.”
Michael Akin, GW’s director of community relations, said Molinelli’s influence extended well beyond Foggy Bottom. He recalled when she told the University Police Department that the building behind her house was making enough noise to rattle her back door.
The department ran into a bit of trouble, however, when it sent officers over to stop the disturbance. The State Department owned the offending building and the noise was from computer fans that they were told were important to matters of national security. At the time, the government refused to shut down the fans.
“But the State Department didn’t realize who they were dealing with,” Akin said.
Soon many community members were involved, all the way up to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).
“Needless to say,” Akin said. “The fans were turned off.”