The strength of America comes from families like Rosemarie’s. Through three generations intertwined by hard work and military service, she’s become the matriarch of a family made up of six children, plenty of grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren (and counting). Though she never saw herself living in a senior community, she now calls Oakmont Livonia her “home away from home;” a place where she feels safe, comfortable, and happy. But the road there had some interesting twists and turns – and it all starts in Dearborn.
Born in Dearborn; Educated in Canada
Born in Dearborn in the days before World War Two, Rosemarie and her brother enjoyed what would be considered a relatively normal childhood until the war broke out. With four uncles already serving in the war, Rosemarie’s dad was called into service as a military police officer. Her mother, like the famed Rosie the Riveter, went to work in the automotive factories in Detroit.
With her whole family fully invested in the war effort, her mother and father thought her best chance at a great education was north of the border. So Rosemarie boarded a train to Canada, where she enrolled in a boarding school several hours north of Toronto in North Bay.
Though it was a definite change of pace from what she was used to Stateside, Rosemarie enjoyed the experience of living and learning at school. “It was very good, very nice,” she said of the school. “I really enjoyed my time there.”
The Boy with the Strange Last Name
When she turned 15, Rosemarie returned to the States and begged her mother to attend Fordson High School in Dearborn because, as she says, “it looked like a castle.” She enrolled, and it was at Fordson that she first noticed the boy with the strange last name on the roster for her high school football team.
“When I saw that name, I thought ‘oh, I feel so sorry for the poor girl that marries him and gets that name,’” she said, laughing. But destiny was not to be avoided; a chance meeting with the strange-named boy during her stint as hallway monitor eventually led to a lifelong romance that would last through 65 years of marriage – and yes, she ended up taking his last name as her own.
Soon after the young couple was married, Rosemarie’s husband was called into the armed forces, serving in the Army during the Korean War. The family moved to Kansas where they lived on a military base, and though he had orders to soon ship out overseas, the war ended just before he was due to leave. Discharged from the military, the family moved back to Michigan where they bought a house in Dearborn Heights and he went to work as a printer for the Big Three.
Grown Kids and Good Grades
While her husband returned to work after his service, Rosemarie stayed at home and raised their six children. “I was lucky enough to be able to stay home,” she said of the time. “And I didn’t go back to work until my husband became a little sick, and then I went back to nursing school.”
At the age of 39 and with some of the kids grown, Rosemarie went back to school and graduated with a degree in nursing. She quickly found work during the day at a doctor’s office while her husband still worked nights. The family thrived during this time, and the rest of her children grew up and pursued interests of their own. Some studied to become teachers; some followed in their father’s steps and joined the service. No matter what they chose to do, they all made Rosemarie proud – and gave her plenty of grandchildren. Having such a large family has filled her life with an unending joy and happiness.
When her husband illness worsened after more than 60 years of marriage, Rosemarie and her children knew it was time for a change. They found Oakmont Livonia, and with the encouragement of her children, soon moved into a one-bedroom apartment. “I’m so glad we did,” she said. “Everybody’s so pleasant; it’s so neat and clean. My children say ‘Mom, this is the best place’ and I agree with them.”