As one of the first two residents to move into Oakmont Rochester last spring, Rosemary’s upbeat personality and passion for helping others have helped shape Oakmont Rochester into a truly wonderful community. But it’s not only the community inside the walls of Oakmont that she makes better; through her volunteer efforts, she has also made a point to help countless people in need throughout all of Metro Detroit. But it all started in historic Corktown.
Courting in Corktown
Rosemary was born in a small hospital called Brent General on Dexter Avenue just across the street from the University of Detroit Mercy. Her family had settled around the historic Corktown area, before eventually moving downriver to Melvindale where she spent most of her childhood. Unbeknownst to her, her future husband and love of her life, Joe, was also growing up in Corktown, but they wouldn’t cross paths until years later in high school.
“I ran into Joe in high school, but then he went into the Air Force,” Rosemary said. “It was during the Vietnam War, and since his brother Pete was already serving in Vietnam, Joe served his time at Webb Airforce Base in Texas.”
When Joe had returned from service, Rosemary was working in the Ford Motor Company’s central medical department – a company she would remain loyal to for 30 years of her professional life. They ran into each other one day during her lunch break, and it wasn’t long before they were happily married with a son on the way.
Building a Life and a Brand New Home
After moves to Taylor and Troy with Joe now working for the Kmart Corporation and Rosemary still at Ford, the family longed for greener pastures, eventually moving to some acreage in Dryden in Lapeer County, where they continued to thrive. Joe got to explore his passions for working with his hands by building his family a home and starting up a new environmentally friendly business.
“It was called ‘Once a Tree’,” Rosemary said of her late husband’s business. “He would always say that ‘Only God can cut down a tree.’ So, he wouldn’t cut them down, but any tree that had already fallen, he would take it, bring it with his tractor, put it on the mill, take off the bark, and mill it into wood for building. He just absolutely loved trees.”
Devoted to Helping Others
After leaving Ford and caring for Joe as he recovered from sickness, Rosemary focused her attention on one of the great loves of her life: helping others. She was picked up by the Imlay City School District to serve as a bilingual aid for students who grew up with Spanish as their first language – a situation she could easily relate to.
“Up to the age of five, I spoke nothing but Spanish,” she said. “So, I became a bilingual aid for grades one through three and I loved my little kids. Many of them would come in monolingual, only speaking Spanish, and I would work to get them on an accelerated path to help them catch up to the others.”
Her work to help others didn’t stop there. Rosemary currently volunteers for the Penrickton Center for Blind Children in Taylor with a group from her old job at Ford, assisting in their monthly mailing process. She also spends time working at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen – and she’s currently considering possibly taking even more on her plate.
“I’ve been considering trying to get into the schools around her as a bilingual aid, but I’ve been having too much fun living here, so I haven’t had time,” she said, laughing.
Oakmont Rochester Independent proved to be the perfect next step for Rosemary after her beloved Joe passed away, providing her with many opportunities to meet new people and experience new things. “This is a very peaceful, carefree life,” she said. “So I figure if I last another 20 years I’m going to have a ball, a blast. And so far, I have!”