Rosemary Marshall

Dec 12, 2017

Rosemary (Rorem) Marshall, age 95, of Montville, died peacefully, surrounded by family, on Dec. 11, 2017. Rosemary was someone whose life spanned most of the 20th century, having lived through at least one Depression-era, a world war and times of great social change. She had a sense of grace and "people first" decorum, as well as social involvement in the community.

She was born in 1922 in Sioux Falls, S.D., to Gladys Miller Rorem and C. Rufus Rorem. She grew up in Chicago, attended high school in a University of Chicago experimental program based on the classics and graduated from Beloit College, where she sang in a women’s group. After college she worked for a time as a travelling accountant. Later in life, she earned a master’s in library science from Drexel University, was a librarian at the Community School and U Penn Medical Science Library, and went to Jamaica in the Peace Corps as a librarian around 1985-86. She was capable in various forms of body work: she studied and practiced as a foot reflexologist, did Feldenkrais movement and qi gong, and was one of the first wave of U.S. students of yoga in the 1960s. She was an experienced potter who studied at Community College of Philadelphia and created large and elegant slab-built and turned bowls, pots and vessels.

Rosemary was married to John Marshall in 1948. They were mainstays of Philadelphia’s Powelton Village, an integrated and civic-minded university-area community, from the early 1950s through 2002, with lifelong involvement in community affairs – public school integration, neighborhood cleanups and street fairs, play-reading groups, Quaker committees of concern, madrigal singing, and folk dancing. They were founders and lifelong active participants in Top of the Dunes, a communally owned beach house on the Jersey shore. They brought their family to Europe in 1951 (through 1953) and had two of their children in Denmark. The family traveled to Uganda in 1966 and stayed for over a year, until the accidental death of John, when they returned to Powelton Village, where she did her best to raise six children on her own. Later she traveled to India twice with son Per and took a China trip with son Paul and his wife Jackie to adopt Cory, their daughter. She maintained lasting friendships with people from all over the world.

Rosemary first came to Maine in the early '80s,when she studied house building at the Shelter Institute in Bath, then lived in Montville from 1982 to 1984. She returned to Philadelphia and lived in Center City and Germantown, but returned again in 2016 to live with her family in Montville.

Rosemary was a member of the Central Philadelphia Friends’ meeting and was active in the Quaker community. For over a year she lived and worked at Pendle Hill, the Quaker retreat center.

She loved reading biographies of Central Asian explorers (especially 19th century women), poetry, and reading about local and international cultures, histories and current events. She enjoyed music, local theater, mu tea, BLTs, root beer, caring for plants and flowers, chocolate chip-mint ice cream, hippopotami and backyard bird-observing among many other joys. Above all she took pleasure in sharing her wide range of interests and observations with friends and family. Her intellectual curiosity, gracious manner, and simple style will live on in all who had the good fortune of knowing her.

Rosemary was predeceased by her husband John Marshall. She is survived by six children, 11 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren — Christopher and his wife Susan Bakaley Marshall of Montville (with children Eli with his wife Chiara Formichi and child Licia, Corinna with her partner Nick Barker, and Belinda with her partner Michael Walsh); Mary of New York and Philadelphia; Rachel and her husband Michael Purcell of Philadelphia (with children Claire and Bryan); Paul and his wife Jackie Ling Wong of Lenox, Mass., (with children Cory, Chad and his partner Nikki Freeman and child Jackson, Mollie and her husband Doug Bartlett and children Matthew and Gerald); Per of India and the U.S.; Charity and her husband James Womack of Philadelphia (with children Makeeda and her husband Mark Holley and their children Ella and Xander), Autumn, and Trajan. Rosemary is also survived by one brother, Ned Rorem of New York.

Contributions in her memory may be made to the American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102.

Arrangements are under the care of Riposta Funeral Home, 182 Waldo Ave., Belfast. Memories, photos, and condolences may be offered to the family at

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