Rachel Helen Blumenfeld (Sign Guestbook)

Rachel Helen Blumenfeld, 56, of Knoxville, passed away February 17, 2019, surrounded by her family and close friends. Generous, funny, and brilliant, Rachel was an athlete, an intellect, and a loving and loyal friend. Rachel was a life-force full of joy, curiosity, and boundless spirit. She believed in the goodness of people and their inherent worth, regardless of income or station. Rachel had a gift for expressing honest curiosity and interest in others and an uncanny way of making the people around her feel genuinely cared for and appreciated.

Rachel was born in El Paso, Texas on September 11, 1962, and spent most of her childhood in Memphis. Raised by her beloved dad, Jacob (Jay) with her brothers Matthew (Matt) and Jesse, Rachel was a graduate of White Station High School, where she was a National Merit Scholar and a member of the softball team and the band. She was the rare teen who, when presented with a choice between a bassoon and a car, opted for a bassoon, which she played when selected for the All West Tennessee Band.

Rachel began her undergraduate studies at Brown University at 17, working in the cafeteria and playing softball for the Brown women’s softball team, winning the Ivy League Championship in 1982. A power hitter and strong fielder, Rachel enjoyed great success playing first base and was named All-Ivy Conference Softball Team Honorable Mention in 1984. After graduating with a BA degree in English Literature, she moved back to Memphis working briefly in pest control before attending the University of Memphis School of Law, where she was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. Always a fierce competitor, Rachel appeared on Wheel of Fortune winning a car and many other prizes, which helped defray some of her law school expenses.

While Rachel’s legal career began in private practice at Gardere Wynne in Dallas, it didn’t take her long to pursue her true calling of public service, starting with the U.S. Environmental Protection’s Region 6 Office of Regional Counsel. In 1994, Rachel moved back to Tennessee, this time to Knoxville, to begin a career with the U.S. Department of Energy that would span more than 20 years and include working in many capacities. She began her DOE career as an Attorney Advisor in the Oak Ridge Operations Office of Chief Counsel, moving on to lead the establishment of DOE’s Environmental Management Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office, serving as Chief Operating Officer/Deputy Manager, acting Paducah Site Lead, and Regulatory and Environmental Policy Advisor. At the time of her death, Rachel served as the General Counsel of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, leading the Laboratory’s Legal Directorate, with responsibility for providing legal advice and counsel to the Laboratory Director and management in all areas affecting the Laboratory. She also served as the corporate secretary for UT-Battelle, LLC.

Rachel was preceded in death by her mother, Wendy Carr Miller, and her father, Jay Blumenfeld, whom she lovingly cared for the last 8 years of his life. She is survived by her two brothers, Matt (Shawn) Blumenfeld of Mt. Vernon, Washington, and Jesse (Elizabeth) Blumenfeld of Memphis, Tennessee, and loving nieces and nephews. She is also survived by her extended family of devoted friends.

In lieu of flowers, it is suggested donations be made to the American Civil Liberties Union at action.ACLU.org or the MD Anderson Cancer Center at gifts.MDAnderson.org. Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel is honored to serve the Blumenfeld family and invites you to view and sign the online registry below.




28 guestbook entries for “Rachel Helen Blumenfeld”:

  1. Anne Osborn Tomasso says:

    So sorry to hear this tragic news. Rachel was always kind to me and fun to be with. I enjoyed playing basketball and softball with her in our early teens. I wish I had kept in touch with her as we grew older. Rest in peace, Rachel.

  2. Helen Sater Ryan says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. I have wonderful memories of Rachel. Jesse, You and your family are in my thoughts.

  3. Marshall Myer says:

    Very sad to hear the news! I still have so may great memories when the boys were little – The pool parties on Bob Gray, batting cages on Parkside and that damn enormous play structure we re-located and re-built! She was a true blessing in my boys’ lives!

  4. Dean Monroe says:

    You will be missed, may you rest in peace. We are grateful for your contributions.

  5. Susan Noe says:

    This breaks my heart. I will miss her smiling face. She told me to keep a secret for her. She said she was going to tell it when she needed to say something about herself that no one else knew. She was on Wheel of Fortune (I think in the 80s). I was also on Wheel of Fortune in 2011. We always laughed about this because you never hear of anyone being on the show and both of us were. I will miss Rachel.

  6. Julie Fike says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. I loved being her teammate playing softball when we were young and in high school at White Station. She was competitive and loved to play ball but she was also fun and we seemed to laugh a lot when we were off the field. She was a wonderful person. Rest in peace Rachel.

  7. Melinda Keller says:

    Rachel was a good friend of mine when we were young. I have thought of her often through the years. She was a smart and loyal friend.

  8. Jennifer Shell says:

    What an awful loss. So sorry to hear this.

  9. Jenni Bates says:

    Rachel was and will always be an inspiration to those who knew her. She was a true servant leader who compassionately and fearlessly achieved her dreams in her professional and personal life. She knew how to bring out the best in everyone, and her encouragement was boundless. I’m so blessed to have known and cherished her.

  10. Craig Bates says:

    I am so sorry to learn of the loss of Rachel. My wife, who worked with Rachel, spoke so glowingly of her and I am so sorry that her light has been silenced. Godspeed.

  11. Tom Osborn says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Such a warm and caring soul. Jesse, sending our love to you and your family.


    So very sad to hear this. She was a wonderful person and will be sadly missed by everyone.

  13. Bill Murphie says:

    I look at her picture and see her still so clearly at our last lunch date. I’m just stunned and at a loss for all this. It’s unreal. I’ll not forget her or our conversations when we spent hours in the van driving back and forth to Paducah or Portsmouth from Lexington. My love to you and yours!

  14. Laura Sawyer says:

    I am saddened to hear of Rachel’s passing. I worked with her at the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office. More than anyone, Rachel is probably most responsible for my hiring into DOE, and I will never forget the guidance she provided me over the years. I will especially remember how she always had a moment to ask about my children and family, even when we were busy. Despite Rachel being one of the smartest people I have ever met,it is, perhaps, that warm touch, I will remember the most. My sincerest condolences to Rachel’s family.

  15. Dan Williams says:

    Rachel was an exceptional person! I am a UT/ORNL employee so I was fortunate enough to get this email from the director.

    From: Zacharia, Thomas via ORNL_staff
    Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 3:52 PM
    To: ornl_staff@email.ornl.gov
    Subject: [ORNL_staff] Sad news: Rachel Blumenfeld

    Rachel Blumenfeld, general counsel for ORNL and UT-Battelle LLC and corporate secretary for the UT-Battelle board of governors, passed away on Sunday, leaving many of us saddened at the loss of both a valued colleague and genuine friend.

    Rachel joined our Leadership Team in January 2015 and provided calm and effective leadership of our Legal Directorate. She guided the Laboratory through significant events such as a workforce restructuring and she ensured sound management of day-to-day legal matters, allowing us to keep a clear focus on accomplishing our research and operational responsibilities.

    We recruited Rachel to join UT-Battelle from her successful career with the Department of Energy. She worked for DOE in Oak Ridge and at other sites for more than 20 years, both as an attorney and as a chief operating officer, and her diverse experience gave her legal guidance a unique operational perspective.

    The high regard in which Rachel was held throughout DOE and the national laboratories may be attributed not only to her intelligence and work ethic but to her thoughtfulness and kindness, and her warmth sustained strong relationships throughout her long career. We were fortunate to have benefited from Rachel’s professional expertise as well as her personal example these past several years.

    Memorial arrangements will be announced at a later date. Please keep Rachel’s friends and family in your thoughts. She will be deeply missed.


  16. Angela Watmore says:

    I remember our last dinner in Knoxville so clearly and her laughter. A friend that no matter how time passed we could pick up conversation and laughter as if no time had passed at all. She was teaching me how to perfect a southern accent during times of conflict and geez it sounded so much better on her :). Such a bright kind soul. She will be greatly missed.❤️

  17. Donna Sneed says:

    Rachel, I didn’t see you much over the last few years but considered you a true friend. You will be deeply missed by so many people. You always made me laugh when we hung out back in the day…God bless you.

  18. Brenda Hays says:

    Rachel and I teamed up many years ago with me at SR and she was at ORO. I always thought of her as the “best and the brightest” among us and I held much admiration for her. I’m sorry to hear of her passing.

  19. Anne Williams says:

    This is really sad news to lose Rachel at such a young age. She was so smart and talented and even-keeled, quite the best companion in the neighborhood. Our whole family loved it when she yelled “Panama Canal” back in the day!

  20. Shawn L says:

    Love to a wonderful woman , and sister in-law , you were the kindest, sweetest ,fun, and giggle box , I knew . You were always good to me , and will be missed a lot! Boston will talk about your ribs for the rest of his life .As he says “best ribs ever! Aunt Rachel is my most favorite Auntie ” and I agree with him. You are the light, the sky, the earth , dance , and be free from illness , and dance with the love you shared with everyone , I love you , from your weird sister in-law , Shawny

  21. Barbara Chapman Nicholson says:

    Oh my……I only knew Rachel as a very very young Rachel. I moved to Memphis in 1976. She was such a loving young lady…I have memories. I feel blessed to have shared that space and time with her.

  22. Mary Fleming says:

    I am stunned by this news, and so saddened. Speaking of Rachel in past tense is unbelievable to me. I regret that I haven’t seen or spoken to Rach in the past couple of years. I will remember her for her kind and generous spirit. I am grateful to have crossed paths with Rachel and regret that I won’t again. Prayers for Rachel and all who loved her.

  23. Cristy Webb Campbell says:

    Broke my heart to hear this and took me by surprise. I thought a lot of Rachel and had the privledge of working with her. Prayers for family and friends.

  24. Pamela Thompson says:

    I cannot adequately express my sorrow at learning of Rachel’s passing. Rachel befriended me while working together at the US DOE Weldon Spring Site Remedial Action Project. She convinced me to take a job with her at the US DOE Portsmouth Paducah Project Office. Her constant leadership and guidance was pivotal in my work life. Her friendship outside of work was precious. Rachel touched so many lives with her wit, wisdom and integrity. I miss honor and miss her forever.

  25. Rochelle Zimmerman says:

    I am shocked and saddened to hear of Rachel’s passing. I worked with her at the Portsmouth/Paducah Prjoect Office for 8 years. She had a great sense of humor and always had time to ask you about your family. Rest In Peace Rachel. My condolences to Rachel’s family.

  26. David Senderling says:

    I worked with Rachel at the PPPO in Lexington as well. So sad to hear this news about Rachel. You could definitely see her kind heart worn on her sleeve in the workplace. It seems the good do die young! It’s so hard to put one’s head around and just as difficult to find the right words. Prayers out to her family and close friends. God bless!

  27. Buz Smith says:

    Rachel was a kind person with a good heart. Rachel was my supervisor during her assignment as Paducah Site Lead. I learned a lot from her and appreciated her patience. Rachel had a demanding job and still managed to care for her father. I teased her often because she ate Panera salad everyday. She had a good sense of humor.

  28. Liz Harding says:

    Sadly I learned of Rachel’s passing only recently, and am deeply saddened. I knew Rachel only briefly, in a professional capacity, but was impressed with her wit, intellect and hugely warm personality. I wish I had the chance to get to know her more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *