Rosemary Walsh Oates passed away at Duke University Hospital on October 17, 2014, after a brief illness.
Rosemary was born February 2, 1929, in Danbury, Connecticut, to Gerald Augustus Walsh and Mary Gihuly Walsh. A life-long educator and educational administrator, she resided in Durham, North Carolina for almost 50 years. Living through the Great Depression and losing her father when she was young, she experienced the challenge of growing up in tough times. She also spoke of historical moments in her past, such as seeing President Franklin Roosevelt driven along the Post Road or watching the Hindenburg sail by overhead.
Rosemary graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Latin from Albertus Magnus College in 1951 and a master’s degree in Classics from Yale University in 1956. She met her husband, John Francis Oates, while studying at Yale. They were married in Athens, Greece, in June of 1957 and the couple had four children.
Rosemary, like so many of the best of her generation, was imbued with a passion for social justice and service to others. She returned to work in the mid-1960s to teach at one of the first school programs for pregnant schoolgirls, first in New Haven and then at the Cooperative School in Durham. She also was active in the civil rights movement, working with the local Democratic Party and serving as Triangle area campaign manager for Wilbur Hobby when he ran for governor in 1972. She joined the new North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in 1980 as one of the original faculty members and eventually became registrar. She also worked for decades as a Duke admissions reader, retiring just a few years ago. She was an active volunteer for many organizations, including St. Luke's Episcopal Church, the Duke Hospital Auxiliary and the One World Market on Ninth Street, where she volunteered for more than 20 years.
She is survived by Elizabeth Woods Oates, MD and spouse John Shin, MD, Emily Oates Wingfield and spouse Alan Wingfield, John Francis Oates Jr. and spouse Mary Ruffin Hanbury, and Sarah Ann Oates and spouse David Cross. She also is survived by seven grandchildren: Catherine and Alexandra Shin, Julia and Henry Wingfield, John Francis Oates III, and Laura and Emma Cross, as well as many cousins, nephews and nieces. She was predeceased by her husband of 49 years, her sister Alice Walsh Zanzal and her brother Theodore Walsh.
A memorial service will be 2 p.m. Saturday, November 1, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 1737 Hillandale Road, Durham, NC 27705. A reception will follow at the home of John Oates Jr. in Raleigh. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to a charity of your choice.
Cremation Society of the Carolinas. www.cremation societync.com