This evening, shortly before the Labor Day weekend began, Sister Rosemary Lee laid to rest her own labors of a long lifetime. Sisters Evelyn and Alacoque had been called to be with her around midnight, but it was only about 5:00 p.m., when the workday was completed, that she handed over her spirit to the God whom she had served so faithfully for so long.
Rosemary was born to Joseph and Rose Lee, the youngest of a family that included three brothers. She wrote in her autobiography that she “loved sports because my brothers did, and I was always in the cheering section for them.” She herself loved to play softball and two-hand touch football. It was at St. Mary Academy that she met our Franciscan Sisters; it was their example, she reported, that had a lasting impression on her. Rosemary’s freshman retreat made her think about prayer and about the direction her life might take. She felt she could always talk to one of the Sisters, who then answered her questions and assured her of continued prayers. It was, perhaps, those prayers and the fruit of that retreat which led her to Oldenburg in 1940.
Sister Damien Marie (Rosemary) had a 35-year teaching career in primary grades in Indiana and Ohio schools. One day while at Greensburg, though not the principal, Rosemary called a faculty meeting. Teachers arrived, only to be treated to milk and cookies!
The last eighteen years of her active ministry found Rosemary at Marian College (now University). The author of a feature story in the Marian Magnet wrote,
“Anyone who knows Sister Rosemary Lee might think of her as the Master Sergeant
of her domain—the mailroom. When students, faculty and staff members want to
be sure their postage is correct, envelopes sealed, or packages weighed accurately,
they venture to Sister Rosemary’s camp where they are sure to receive her reliable
service and one-of-a-kind greetings.
In her spare time, Sister Rosemary no longer plays softball or two-handed touch
football, but settles for watching football and basketball games, mostly on television.
If her schedule permits, Sister Rosemary watches the Marian Knights hoop on their
home court (although she admits that her favorite basketball team is Notre Dame).
One may also see her and Buttons, the Sisters’ community dog, strolling through the
campus around lunchtime, as all weekday lunch breaks are reserved for this routine.”
While at Marian, it was obvious that Rosemary dearly loved the students. Friends describe her as pleasant, a woman of few words but with a subtle humor, and one who devoted much time to working for the poor. Crocheting, as well as collecting stamps and miniature international flags, occupied Rosemary’s free time. Producing beautiful hooked rugs was a specialty. Attending a local craft fair on the day after Thanksgiving became for Rosemary an event religiously observed.
We extend our sympathy to Rosemary’s nieces and nephews, particularly to Karen her godchild, as well as to her Sister-companions and friends. We offer much gratitude to our nursing and pastoral care staff who cared for Rosemary these many years.
As evident from the funeral liturgy which she planned, the image of God as Good Shepherd seemed to be a favorite. We can be comforted in hearing there Isaiah’s recounting of God’s words addressed to our sister Rosemary: “Like a shepherd I feed my flock; hugging you in my arms.”
Sister Rosemary, may you rest secure in that loving embrace.
(Go to “About Us/Obituaries” to see where S. Rosemary ministered.)