Thursday night I received a phone call. It was bad news. Well, not for her, for all the rest of us. My friend said, “Rosemary passed away earlier today.” She had some mini-strokes yesterday and I think they were followed by a fatal one later.
Just last week she was worshipping in church, this week she is in heaven!
Rosemary was in church on Sunday, a week ago today. At 91ish, she was in relatively good health. Failing, yes, but still doing okay. Our daughter was visiting church Sunday and visited with her…more than once. She was loved by everyone who knew her at church.
Her husband of 63 years, Al, was an engineer. He worked for Trane and by the time he retired, it was GE. They moved all over. The places I know they lived were NJ, KY, TX, but I’m sure there were a few other places as well. When they lived in KY, Rosemary was principal of a Christian School.
If you met her, you felt like you were meeting your mother…or grandmother. But make no mistake, she was a very sharp, intelligent woman as well as wise. (No, it doesn’t always go along with intelligent I’m sad to say.)
The first time they lived in Tyler was in the 1950’s when they built their home. They returned in the 1970’s (I think) when Al was near retirement and bought a house not far away. When we candidated for the church in Tyler in the late 1980’s, we stayed with them for some of our visit.
They helped us make the decision re which house to buy in the end. No, they didn’t tell us where to move, they just heard the places we were considering and told us what they knew of the neighborhoods. We returned to look at the house we later bought and looked at it with different eyes.
Coincidentally, it was next door to the house they built the first time! In retrospect, their advice was great advice. We’re glad we took it. It was the best choice both in terms of a neighborhoods, location and in terms of resale value. They were just wise people both in terms of spiritual things and in terms of everyday life.
She and Al were from the west and midwest. If that doesn’t communicate anything to you, I would suggest that they were very understated people! They weren’t flashy or braggy. They just moved on with their lives. They did what needed to be done without making a big scene about it. There was no fanfare. But they paid attention to the poeple in the church. They didn’t play favorites. They quietly listened and watched people. They went behind the scenes and helped them when they could in meaningful ways. They quietly encouraged people over the 40+ years they lived in Tyler. They worked there under a variety of different pastors and conditions…steadily encouraging and ministering the love of Christ to those around them.
Whenever someone was honored or mentioned in some way in the local paper, Rosemary would cut out the piece and bring it in to church to give the person or their family.
Al passed away about 10 years ago. Rosemary just kept on living her life in the way she always had…only without Al. It was difficult to imagine her without Al. After 63 years together, it was difficult to see her alone. But she just kept on moving…one step at a time!
One of her daughters lived nearby. As time went on, she moved in with her daughter and husband. But she was still part of the church and people sought her out to visit with her. One woman met with her regularly for breakfast.
For many of us, Rosemary was the mother we wanted to be or the mother we never had. She was the prime example of a Godly woman for all of us.
She and Al had 4 children, 3 daughters and 1 son. Most are parents and grandparents now with children all over the place, both in the US and various parts of the world. Some are in the ministry, some are in vocations serving the Lord as Al did. It will take some time for them to get together for her funeral so it may not be until next week.
I knew she and Al traveled, but didn’t realize they had managed to get to every state in the Union as well as 5 continents. They were amazing people!
Rosemary blessed our lives by being a part of them
This world is a smaller place because she is gone. But I have no doubt that she is reveling in the joy of being in the presence of Christ. What a joy!
I’m happy for her that she didn’t have to have a long lingering illness. I suspected we wouldn’t get to see her again this side of heaven when she stopped by our house in April 2013 to say, “Good-bye” and “Thanks” to my husband for his ministry to her and her husband over the years. We always felt it was quite mutual.
It meant a lot to both of us. Everything happened so fast with our house that we couldn’t get around to say proper “Good-byes” to all we wanted to. We were so glad she came by. It meant a lot!
Rosemary O’Connell, what a gift to our church family and to the community of Tyler, TX! We will miss you. And to your family, we offer you sympathy in this great loss. I know you will miss her presence with you.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
**This photo was taken a few years ago at one of our after church meals.
This morning, we sang this hymn. I thought of Rosemary…and Al! I had to add it here!
FOR ALL THE SAINTS WHO FROM THEIR LABORS REST
1 For all the saints who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
2 Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light.
3 O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle; they in glory shine;
yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
4 And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
5 From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
By William W. How
I think of her and so many others who have gone ahead. Some I have known, others I have read about. Most, I never knew. All of them are rejoicing in the presence of the Lord…and are whole! What a delight! One day we will all join this great march!