The Daily Item
PASADENA, Md. — It has to be a line from a Don Mclean song...”the world was never meant for one as beautiful as you”...that is the most fitting tribute to our dear Rosemary, aka Rusty, who passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.
She was not only beautiful in body, but spirit. This is confirmed by old photos carefully pasted in family albums over the years. This is confirmed by all who knew and loved her. Rusty was always the sweet child, born at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, adored by now deceased parents, David and Jeanbelle Fisher Bodtke.
Others who will sadly miss her include a brother, Paul David Bodtke, of Port Orford, Ore., and sister, Elizabeth Ann Fulcher, of Selinsgrove, Pa. She was a loving aunt to nieces and nephews and an inspiration to a host of cousins from the Fisher and Bodtke families who remained close through the years.
With a dad as a career officer in the Navy, Rusty was a total “Navy Brat” who grew up on military bases all over the country and even a few overseas. She primarily attended schools in California followed by St. John’s University in Newfoundland.
Her career path was in human resources and she successfully worked her way to a director position in an engineering firm before being diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. But Rusty never let that keep her from living life fully. Her astounding adventures continued, doing just what she wanted to do, like roughing it in a van trip through the Alaska wilderness, crabbing off the Oregon coast, and flying to Italy to do Tuscany with her sister. She was brave and unyielding becoming, after 23 years of treatment, the longest surviving female ALS patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. For that, she credits her partners, those therapists, doctors and staff at the renowned facility.
We like to recount how Rusty met her future husband, William “Bill” Morawski, who was her love, best friend, and solid rock of support for 38 years. She was a student in California who flew east to a Naval air station in Newfoundland to visit her parents for Easter. The rather remote base was not well stocked with young ladies so single officers and sailors lined up at the airport to see who and what was coming off the plane for the holiday.
A blonde-haired girl with sparkling blue eyes caught the attention of many, but Bill had an inside introduction as he, a lowly ensign, reported to Rusty’s dad. So after a whirl of social activities and family fun, Rusty waved goodbye and headed west. But the two would casually run into each other at strange times and unusual places over the years, in a hello-and goodbye friendship. But fate would intervene when Rusty’s work took her close to Bill in Maryland. They dined, then dated, and finally married 10 years after their first encounter in Newfoundland.
Rusty had a passion for golf, same as Bill. She played whenever possible, especially on her favorite links at the Piney Branch Country Club in Hampstead, Md., where she had many friends. She and Bill were twice invited to the Bob Hope Desert Classic in Palm Springs. They met many celebrities as well as major professional players, and Rusty particularly enjoyed lunching with Dolores Hope.
When family and friends were asked to capture Rusty in either one or maybe just a few words, it was an overwhelming response such as “fiercely independent, good natured, generous, vibrant, loyal, adventurous, pretty like her mom, reliable, unassuming, courageous, and determined to live her life to the fullest.
To date, the only line not crossed out on Rusty’s wish list is the trip she always wanted to make to Bora Bora. But we’re thinking that somewhere in the deep blue South Pacific, there is a ripple that will churn and intensify as a thundering, majestic wave breaking surf for her on the white sandy Bora Bora shores. She is in our hearts forever, she is forever free.
Funeral and burial services were held on Feb. 8 at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Crownsville, Md.