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ROSEMARIE

Rosemarie dedicated much of her later life to the family of Doncaster HF Rambling Club, leaving a lasting legacy for others to follow.  Her passion for the outdoors was reflected in her immense contribution, not only as Rambling Secretary from early 2007 in single-handedly compiling a whole year’s varied walking programme, year after year for twelve years, but as a Walk Leader whose name appeared on the Club Calendar more frequently than any other.  

Planning and recceing over 350 walks and choosing to lead 150 of these herself was a huge task, but Rosemarie literally took this in her stride, including planning walks for the annual Weekend Away at various HF Houses in different parts of the country.  Her knowledge of walk locations was second to none, and her unaccompanied recces via public transport the stuff of Club legend.  She would plan a day’s solo walking well in advance, with synchronized bus and train timetabled travel, usually setting off at the crack of dawn, and not returning home till late.  Often spurning the offer of a shared car journey, Rosemarie preferred to travel under her own determined steam, her fierce independence also surfacing when rejecting a helping hand to climb over stiles, until latterly when, reluctantly, she would graciously accept the offer.  Leading a walk was second nature - once she had the route in her mind it remained there not just for the walk on the day, but for years to come, as were coach parking arrangements recalled instantly for scores of destinations.

We often commented that if the coach driver was ever taken ill and unable to carry on, Rosemarie would have been able to drive the coach back home!  After all, if you can cycle from John o’ Groats to Land’s End, twice, on a cycle similar to the one used by Granville in 'Open all hours', driving a coach would not be beyond her!

Diminutive in stature, but strong in character, Rosemarie was a treasured lynchpin of our Club.  In the words of her son, Oliver, “Club Members were her second family, and she loved it”.  We give enormous thanks to this remarkable and unique lady, who now lives on in the memory of those who walked with her.……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..........................................

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosemarie was born in Cologne on Christmas Eve, 1936, christened Rosa Maria but was always called Rosemarie, so, as a child she never quite knew who she was.   Her childhood shaped her into the strong, independent person she was later to become. Totally obedient and yet quite stubborn on the quiet, at an early age Rosemarie became a deep thinker and quite a philosopher, seldom asking questions and never giving the secrets of her thoughts away.  She came to like being solitary, yet also enjoyed rough-and-tumble games with her siblings and playmates, preferring tomboy-activities to dolls and prams.  

Still not yet seven years old she experienced some of the horrors and trauma of war, bombs dropping onto her village, with ensuing hunger, and begging for food.  One thing she learnt during those troubled years was to make do with very little. When she was nearly nine years old schools re-opened, and, apart from six months schooling in the past and more recently drawing letters and numbers in the dust by the road side, this was her first experience of education.  She loved her school days, learnt to swim in a reservoir in the absence of swimming pools, and joined the sports club after school, participating in athletics and gymnastics – not always gracefully!  Eventually she evolved from the timid little mouse into one of the top girls, having earned recognition at school.

Rosemarie was a proper country girl, enjoying helping her beloved father to saw wood and dig the potato field; she milked the family goats and cows and sometimes dragged a four-wheeled cart of bagged coal from the next village, always dreaming of becoming a farmer, but dreading the thought of ever being a farmer’s wife.

She left school at the age of fifteen to find work, despite her longing for a career and much to the dismay of her teachers, to help the family buy the long redundant corn mill and the old house.  So factory work it was.  After the initial shock she actually enjoyed the factory floor, drilling rivet holes into brake linings, singing merrily away with her mates despite being covered in asbestos dust. When the time came for pulling down and rebuilding the old mill and renovating the living accommodation, Rosemarie became the bricklayer’s labourer after an eight hour day’s work at the factory, preparing mortar etc., just armed with wheel barrow and shovel.  At the age of seventeen she bought her brother’s rather cranky old motorbike, which almost fell apart bit by bit on longer rides, with her friend hanging on to her.  Two girls on a motorbike was a sensation in those days when only few boys owned one!

In 1957 she met her English husband to be, and within two months he proposed.  With no career prospects – and after all, she was twenty years old - marriage was what people expected of a girl, by hook or by crook.  They married in Germany and had three nice rooms in the now partially renovated mill house. In September 1958 baby Oliver came along, and life was good.  The whole family, brother and sister and their spouses, got together in her parents’ quarters every weekend, always like a little party, talking and often livened up with a crate of beer.

In 1960 Rosemarie saw it as an adventure when she and her husband moved to England, though she had to learn to speak English from scratch.   In 1962 daughter Sonja was born.

She earned a living, first as a barmaid, then factory work, and later as secretary and wages clerk to a friend, then attended evening classes to catch up on her education, passing five GCSE’s and later a foundation course in Maths with the Open University.  Rosemarie then took up nurse training and became SEN MS at a local hospital, an occupation she really came to love, often having to take charge of a ward with some thirty patients.  She had a great need to learn more and studied psychology and physiology, far beyond the requirements of a nurse.

Eventually Rosemarie bought an ‘open all hours’ corner shop. Having dabbled in philately, writing poetry, breeding tropical fish and Yorkshire Terriers along the way, she now decided to buy a horse, mainly for her daughter who eventually entered show-jumping and cross country competitions with Rosemarie as stable hand and learner rider.

It might be easier to list what Rosemarie was not engaged in!  After the shop came working In Cornwall as housekeeper/companion to a lady with multiple sclerosis, and later in Northamptonshire, taking care of two motherless children during their father’s absence. Although it was a climb down, having turned down some wonderful offers of work, including manageress in a hotel/pub and housemother to apprentice jockeys, she longed to return to a less complicated life.

Rosemarie enjoyed jogging and in the course of three years took part in over thirty road races of six to thirteen miles.  At the age of fifty she wrote her own novel, ‘The North Wind Doth Blow’, and after revising it on and off for the next twenty years finally decided to have it published.  She cycled twice from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, unsupported, enjoyed playing table tennis, but one of her greatest and lasting passions was rambling across the countryside, alone or in company, clocking over thirty five thousand miles in thirty years of rambling.   

Clearly living life to the full, Rosemarie was invited by Radio Hallam in 2008 to talk as one of ‘South Yorkshire’s Interesting People’, and asked to give a second talk two years later. She never forgot her roots, deep down always feeling a sense of loss, yet also realised that she no longer belonged to her homeland either.  

She belonged to the hills and the moors, to nature and solitude, and that was where she felt at home.

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                                                                                                                                     Do not be sad and do not weep

My pain and shadows gone

In peace and solitude I sleep

Now all my work is done

No wakeful lonely nights to fear

Just silent rest – eternity

Farewell to what I held so dear

But now I am truly free.

 

 

        Farewell my hills and brooding moors

                     In peace and solitude it ends

           I’ll wander ‘cross the stars – not gorse

                       And look upon my friends

               If sometimes you remember me

                        Look high up to the stars

            And smile my way; then you may see

                      Me smiling back from Mars.

 

 

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