Rosemarie is One Lucky Lady
Updated: Oct 26
If not for friends like you, our mission to help military widows like Rosemarie wouldn’t be possible
Please note: some names have been changed for privacy protection.
We like to call 83-year-old Rosemarie our “lucky 14” resident…
You see, on February 14 of this year, Valentine’s Day, Rosemarie became the first military widow on our wait list to learn she would be moving into the new Bob Hope Village
“My late husband and I consider the number 14 to be lucky,” Rosemarie shared at the time. “We were both born on the 14th, and we were married on the 14th. And today, on the 14th, I get to move into Bob Hope Village 6.”
She paused, looked up and said, “I think my husband would be happy.”
Rosemarie's husband, Gene, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, passed away three years ago from a brain hemorrhage. “It happened so quickly,” Rosemarie recalls. Just like that, her beloved husband of 56 years was gone.
The couple met when Gene was stationed in Germany. For him, it was love at first sight. Rosemarie, however, wasn’t quite so instantly enamored. The thought of falling in love with an American soldier and moving away from her family and home country was unnerving…
“He chased me down for a full year before I agreed to go out on a date with him,” Rosemarie says with a chuckle. Gene’s perseverance finally won her over, and the two were married in 1961.
While raising two sons, Rosemarie and her family were required to move frequently. “Moving so often wasn’t easy on my boys, especially my oldest son. A lot of military families have that same problem,” Rosemarie explains. Eventually, in 1980, the small family ended up at the Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
And while constant moves were difficult, Rosemarie says her two sons are now appreciative of their childhood and all the unique places they got to see and experience.
Living in Florida’s panhandle, Rosemarie and Gene became aware of nearby Air Force Enlisted Village (AFEV). They saw for themselves how there was no place else like it – a truly one-of-a-kind community where military widows could live out their lives safely and with dignity. The couple became supporters of AFEV and would make frequent donations to help the residents living here.
Her husband’s sudden death three years ago left Rosemarie reeling. Eighty years old at the time, Rosemarie wondered, “Who will help me to get around? How can I take care of our home? How I will be able to take care of myself?”
But thanks to generous supporters like you – and her own knowledge of a special place she had been supporting since 1980 – Rosemarie already knew the answer to her own questions:
Air Force Enlisted Village!
While moving isn’t ever easy, the pandemic made it that much harder and stressful when Bob Hope Village 6 was ready to open its doors in June and greet Rosemarie, the community’s very first resident.
“It was a scary situation with the virus and everything. Being alone … selling the house …it was a stressful time,” Rosemarie recalls.
But now, five months later, Rosemarie has settled in nicely and has met new friends, including another military widow like her who was born and raised in Germany. She has even made time for swims in the pool and tai chi twice weekly!
This is what your continued support makes possible. Even in these challenging times, your compassion provides military widows like Rosemarie with help they deserve in the final chapter of their lives. Living in a loving community and surrounded by others who know what it is to sacrifice in service to our great country.
Most of all, Rosemarie tells me that she now feels safe. And considering what we’ve all been living through since March of this year, that makes my heart smile. For this, I am so grateful to you …
If not for friends like you, our mission to help these widows wouldn’t be possible. So thank you for your continuing support. Rosemarie may have been our very first resident at the new Bob Hope Village 6, but there are many more military widows like her on our wait list who hope to be so fortunate – or, as Rosemarie might say, so lucky!