October 2, 1946 - April 18, 2022
Rosemary died at age 75 the with the same physical strength and vitality she lived with her entire life. She died by choice through VSED, Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking, seeing her Alzheimers would take her down a road she didn't want to put her family or herself through. In choosing this, she gave her biggest gift of all to the friends and family she left behind - they were able to know her as the vibrant, loving, intelligent, thoughtful, independent and incredibly healthy woman she always was.
Rosemary Grembla was born in Whittier, California in 1946 and attended Catholic school where she played all the sports allowed to women: basketball, volleyball and softball. Her senior year she was the president of the Girls Athletic Association, on the honor roll, and received the Athlete of the Year award.
Rosemary's mother was a Girl Scout leader, and Rosemary was a Girl Scout until she moved away for college. Due to her leadership and camping skills, she was selected for All-State and went for her first time to Seattle, Washington, where she would move 25 years later. In Scouts, she gained the nickname, “Mother Rosie” for her tendency to do all she could to help her fellow scouts and community.
Rosemary received a scholarship to Whittier College, then went on to receive her Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan. Soon after, she moved to Alaska for a job in public health. She met her husband-to-be, Alan Courtright, 17 years her senior, when she attended a talk he gave pertaining to his job as a wildlife biologist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
With her marriage to Alan, she became the stepmother to three pre-teen sons - Mitch, Jeff and Chad. Soon they moved to Spokane, Washington for another public health job. Together they bought seven acres of pine forest land and, with the help of family, friends and neighbors, built a three story log cabin that came as a kit from Montana. There they started a plant nursery and a large organic garden, and her daughter Spring was born.
Family near and far became a deeply important part of her life. As often as possible, sometimes multiple times a year, she would travel to see family in California. Even while working full time, parenting four children and helping with accounting and other tasks for the nursery, she kept up a steady correspondence with family and friends. She created photo albums and kept folders of correspondence in folders labeled by year. Later in life she enjoyed digging into genealogy and kept extensive notes on family history.
At age 40, she and Alan tired of the nursery business and she moved to Seattle and received her second Master’s Degree - this time in Library Science from the University of Washington. With the boys grown, Alan, Spring and Rosemary then moved to nearby Poulsbo, Washington where she worked as a reference librarian for the Kitsap Regional Library. After a few years she switched to working at the Poulsbo Library, which she could walk to from her home. She was a librarian for over 20 years and is remembered with very fond memories by the many people who worked with her or interacted with her.
For many years she was a member of Kitsap Audubon, Green America and the Kitsap Peninsula Mycological Society, and she was a founding member and advocate of the Kitsap Community Food Co-op. She participated in and donated to countless organizations and was grateful to have both the money and time to help family and friends, as well.
She wrote letters to politicians throughout her life, brought composting to her library, advocated for organic food, human right and environmental action. In retirement she volunteered with Bainbridge Zero Waste, ate almost exclusively whole, organic food, and became a vegetarian. She regularly donated blood and platelets as often as they would let her.
For the last ten years of her life, she lived on Bainbridge Island at the Winslow Cohousing Group, where she loved the all-ages community dedicated to living as sustainably as possible. Much to her delight, her daughter was married on the grounds of the Winslow Cohousing Group.
She did her part in caring for the Group’s grounds and land trust trail. Those she took forest walks with were often convinced to spend extra time clearing leaves off ferns and plants she was sure would be smothered without help. It is fitting that she had her body composted, adding her body as food to the forest she loved and cared for so much.
It takes a lifetime to get to know someone sometimes, especially those like Rosemary who do not fret over self importance. She was a studious woman her entire life, with a stack of books to read that took the place of any media but music. Rosemary’s life was quiet, peaceful and gentle, but also deeply impactful and inspiring. Everywhere she connected with people, she became beloved for her bright smile, quick laugh, deep caring and direct, happy demeanor.
Rosemary took the Girl Scout ‘law' seriously throughout her entire life:
I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Her final Celebration of Life was held at Cohousing, with an outpouring of love and memories before she passed peacefully there in her home. Her sons and daughter were there with her, along with her son in law and dear friends, who helped her take her final traditional walks around the woods and her community. She was a beloved member there, and many came to support the family with friendship, food and songs before, during and after her passing.
She will be greatly missed by those she left behind - a daughter, three sons, two sisters, two grandchildren and countless friends - but they will never forget her, and her positive impact will be felt throughout their lives and in their hearts.
This obituary is also available on the Recompose.life website.