Rosemary (Rosie) Therese Cummings of Appleton was a wife, mother, sister, grandmother, great-grandmother, teacher, church and community volunteer, world traveler and a close friend to so many. She passed away peacefully August 2, 2021, after a brief illness at the age of 90.
Rosie was born in Milwaukee on March 4, 1931, to Andrew and Amanda Verhalen. Her father owned three Verhalen Ice Cream shops. Rosie and her brothers Charlie, Jim and Phil helped in the store below their apartment. Rosie graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in Milwaukee and earned an education degree from Marquette University in 1953. She earned a master’s in 1990 and worked as a reading teacher/specialist.
Rosie met J. Joseph (Joe) Cummings at Marquette, and they were married on July 17, 1954. Joe started his law practice in Racine and later moved to his hometown of Appleton, where they raised their eight children. Joe passed away in 1990, ending any dreams of traveling together in retirement.
Rosie loved teaching children and inspired a generation of students to love reading. She taught language arts at St. Bernadette in Appleton and St. Mary’s in Kaukauna. She later gained her masters in reading – shortly after being widowed – and taught for the Greenville and Hortonville School Districts for 20 years. She worked part-time for several years after retiring from full-time teaching.
In addition to teaching, Rosie was active with many volunteer activities. She was a choir member, Eucharistic minister at church and to the homebound at St. Bernadette. Rosie was a deeply faithful woman who was active with St. Bernadette Parish since shortly after its formation. During the recent pandemic, she held prayer services and delivered communion to fellow residents of the Heritage.
Rosie was also a longtime member of Catholic Daughters, an usher at the Performing Arts Center and Attic Theater as well as a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and Heart of the Valley Prevention Board. She did end up traveling with family and friends and visited five continents, with multiple trips every year.
In her later years, she loved spending time with her 11 grandchildren, attending nearly every major event as well as taking each of them on a special trip for their ninth birthdays and creating lasting memories. She instilled a love of reading, adventure, and travel in her entire family. She saw to it that all the grandchildren have a rich library of classic children’s books from Tomie dePaola, Patricia Polacco, and others – many of which are signed. Most recently, she attended her granddaughter Sarah Schoeberle Dunne’s wedding celebration on July 10 in Madison, and she was able to hold her third great grandchild, Sophia Louise Ryan, born on June 28.
In addition to Joe’s early death, Rosemary was preceded in death by her older brothers: Fr. Charles Verhalen and James P. Verhalen; sister-in-law Florence Verhalen; and her infant daughter, Judith. She is survived by her brother Philip Verhalen of Renton, WA; her children Chuck (Darlene) of Hendersonville, NC; Ed of Seattle; Maureen (Bill) of Wrightstown; Danny of Appleton; Bill (Margaret) of Clinton, WA; Andy (Meredith) of Minneapolis; and Celia (Tom) of Madison, WI; 11 grandchildren (Lexie, Caitlin, A.J., Sarah, Charles, Joseph, Luke, Michael, Annaleigh, Elise, and Andrea) and three great grandchildren (William, Charlie, and Sophia).
Friends and family are invited to join in a celebration of Rosie’s life. Visitation will take place from 9 to 10:45 am on Saturday, August 7, 2021, at St. Bernadette Catholic Church, 2331 E. Lourdes Drive, Appleton. A funeral mass will follow at 11 am with Rev Joseph Dorner. She will be laid to rest with Joe and Judith at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Appleton.
Rosie requested that in lieu of flowers, please donate to the St. Francis Xavier Fund (https://www.xaviercatholicschools.org/giving/donate), or to another educational institution. As a lifelong educator, Rosie was a strong supporter of education and literacy.
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