Rosalie Niemi, 76, of Wake Forest, North Carolina, passed away on December 30, 2019 from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Her loving husband of 54 years, Russ Niemi, predeceased her in October 2019. Rosalie battled ALS for two years with her usual optimism and positive outlook, which inspired us all.
Rosalie is survived by her daughters Wendy Niemi Kremer (Ian) of Herndon, Virginia and Gloria Niemi Bowden (Scott) of Park City, Utah, grandson Lucas Kremer of Herndon, Virginia, sisters Harriett Lindstrom of Downer’s Grove, Illinois and Marlene Morrison (Lester) of Macomb, Illinois, plus four nieces, their spouses and many great-nieces and nephews. Nothing was more important to Rosalie than her family; she delighted in every milestone of the children in the entire extended family.
Rosalie was born January 30, 1943 in Hancock County, Illinois, the middle of three daughters of June and Eugene Gross. She fondly remembered her upbringing in the western Illinois farming community. She enjoyed showing sheep at 4-H shows, baking custard pie for the county fair, and watching American Bandstand after school.
Growing up, she and her sisters enjoyed farm life and had a special bond. They remained close throughout their adult lives, holding weekly “sister calls” where they chatted, laughed and caught up on family news.
At Colchester High School, Rosalie was homecoming queen, a cheerleader, President of the Future Homemakers of America and an enthusiastic participant in virtually every club her school had to offer.
Rosalie then enrolled at the University of Illinois to study home economics. At Illinois, she lived in the 4-H House and met the love of her life, Russ, through their roommates. Russ and Rosalie hit it off and began a lifelong adventure after their marriage in 1965. They spent 46 years in the Kansas City area, making many friends through their neighborhood, church, running group and work.
Rosalie focused on raising her daughters for much of their younger years, then enjoyed a meaningful career in nutrition education and marketing at the Midwest Dairy Association. Her work promoting healthy eating included partnering with various Kansas City sports personalities and team mascots. She and K.C. Wolf, the Chiefs’ mascot, were a particularly dynamic duo when visiting schools.
As a goal for her 40th birthday. Rosalie was determined to run a marathon. While not an avid runner, she trained and worked hard, ultimately finishing a marathon in Los Angeles on the course that would later be used for the 1984 Olympic Games.
After their retirements, she and Russ were actively involved in their churches and communities, and Rosalie embraced her love of gardening. Her garden at their home in Olathe, Kansas was a showpiece and she spent immeasurable hours tending to her flowers and plants.
After moving to Wake Forest in 2011, she continued her gardening pursuits and very much enjoyed the longer growing season that North Carolina had to offer. She was a proud member of the “Cracked Pots” gardening club at Wake Forest United Methodist Church, sang in the church choir and enjoyed get-togethers with friends from the neighborhood and church.
Rosalie was above all a nurturer. She made sure her family was cared for before herself. She tended to the birds in the yard and tolerated the squirrels and rabbits even when they tried to mess up her garden. She cultivated her plants and loved watching them grow. She nurtured her many friendships with her warm spirit and cheery personality. She carried faith and love for God and country in her heart.
A service celebrating Rosalie’s life will be held on Monday, January 13 at 11:00 AM at Wake Forest United Methodist Church. Arrangements are being handled by Bright Funeral Home, 405 S. Main Street, Wake Forest, NC 27587. Donations in her memory can be made to Tri-Area Ministries Food Pantry, 149 E Holding Avenue, Wake Forest, NC 27587 or the North Carolina chapter of the ALS Association, 4 N. Blount Street, Suite 200, Raleigh, NC 27601or www.alsnc.org.