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Ruth M. Rosegrant

ROSEGRANT, Ruth M. (Drusie) January 30, 1922 – March 14, 2020 Ruth Marie (Meyer) Rosegrant (“Drusie”), age 98, of Kalamazoo, MI, died peacefully on March 14, 2020, in her Friendship Village apartment, with family at her bedside. A Missouri farmgirl who taught at Western Michigan University until her retirement, Drusie saw many changes through her long and rich life. Born in McKittrick MO, she was a voracious reader who skipped several grades, and left her one-room schoolhouse for college at age 15. She earned her AB from Central Methodist University, in Fayette, MO, where she met the love of her life, William (Bill) Rosegrant. After college, they both moved to Chicago for graduate school at the University of Chicago, where Drusie began work toward her MA in Religion. After Bill and Drusie married, in 1943, she left school – which was not unusual for the times – to help support them both, while Bill completed his graduate work. They later lived wherever he taught, in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Minnesota. In 1955 they moved to Kalamazoo, where Drusie taught at Parson’s Business School for many years, while Bill taught American Literature at WMU. Bill and Drusie had five children by the time they spent a year in the Philippines, 1965-66, where Bill had a Fulbright Fellowship to teach. Drusie treasured the memories of this year, which led to her love of pancit and flan, and the eventual addition to the family tree of cherished in-laws, grand-, and great-grand-children. After returning from the Philippines, Drusie earned her MA in English at WMU. From then until her retirement she taught General Studies at WMU, where she reveled in the opportunity to share her enthusiasm for literature, art, and music. Even post-retirement, she continued her work with the Kalamazoo Area branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). For many years she led their scholarship fund work – a cause to which she was passionately committed, and which expanded educational opportunities for many young women. Drusie loved good food and drink, including both sharp and “stinky” cheeses, fresh fruit, crusty bread, chocolates, and wine. She was an excellent cook, and family members remember with pleasure her ham and turkey dinners, creative and delicious salads, hot fudge sundaes with raspberry sauce, homemade jams, rhubarb custard meringue pie, and Christmas stollen. She loved flowers, and being surrounded by blooms. She also loved to travel. After retirement, she and Bill enjoyed exploring various countries in Europe, including special times in Germany when visiting her brother Herb (“Junie”) and his wife, Nancy. Drusie also prized her memories from joining an Elderhostel trip to the Galapagos Islands by herself when she was nearly 80, and spending a week in Hawai’i for a granddaughter’s wedding when she was 92. “Fierce” is a much-overused word these days. However, it is still a good description of Drusie. Fiercely independent, she chafed at the limitations and restrictions that came with increasing age and decreasing abilities. She believed fiercely in equality and social justice, and was at home with the principles and perspectives of Unitarian Universalism, participating as a stalwart member of People’s Church, in Kalamazoo. She was fiercely invested in and protective of her voting rights, and was energized to have been able to cast her vote in the presidential primary held several days before her death. She was fierce in her love of nature, the outdoors, and especially BIRDS! An avid birder, she had an ABA lifelist of 609 species of birds. Her rooms were full of birds – glass, cloth, wood, paper, tile, crystal, enamel, and stone – and she was well-known for her large collection of bird earrings and tee-shirts. She was also a fierce and prodigious reader. Even in the last year of her life, she was actively involved with several book groups, maintained subscriptions to eight publications, and was ever-faithful to the Kalamazoo Gazette. Another of her passions was yoga, and she joined members of her most longstanding yoga class for post-class gatherings even after she had to give up the practice herself – when she was 96. She was fiercely interested in and curious about the world – its people, politics, culture, art, and nature. Finally, she was fiercely loving and supportive of her family. She was happiest when in the company of one or more family members, and took special joy over the years in several annual trips with family: summer trips to lobster country at Hiram Blake Camp, in Penobscot Bay, Maine; spring birding at Point Pelee, Canada, and Magee Marsh, in Ohio; and winter holiday gatherings in Warren Woods, MI, which included up to 31 family members together for a week. Drusie loved both this tradition, and the amazed reactions she got when she described it to other people. Her large family and many friends will miss Drusie terribly, but we are comforted by the thought that she is free of the various limitations of recent years, and by our many joyful and powerful memories of our time with her. The example she vividly modeled of an engaged, meaningful, and self-directed life will continue to inspire us. We will remember her always and in every season, including when we hear the first song of the Cardinal at the turn of the year, Red-Winged Blackbirds in the spring, the call of the Loon in summer, and Sandhill Cranes in the fall. We will think of her every month when we share the name, meaning, and timing of the full moon, and we will miss her daily email communications, sprinkled with “OMGs,” that kept her in touch with us all, and in sync with even her post-millenial grandkids. We will miss her interest in everything we said and did, and we will toast her memory forever. Drusie ("Lola" and "Great-Lola" to the younger generations) is survived by her five children and their spouses: Ann Alvarez (Tony), Mark (Susan Avanzado), John (Donna Bender), Susan (David Lampe), and Jane (Andrew Tweedy); eleven beloved grandchildren and their partners: Antonia (Jana Suverkropp), Julia, and Daniel (Joanna Lehrman) Alvarez, Joselito Lualhati, Melissa Williams (Marc), Michael and Joseph Rosegrant, Joanna Lampe, Luisa Palloni (Giordano), and Ruth and Anna Tweedy; and six dear great-grandchildren: Owen and Helen Williams, Kiyoji Alvarez-Suverkropp, Sienna and Nicolo Palloni, and Heron Alvarez-Lehrman; one brother, Colonel (USAF Ret) Herbert F. Meyer, Jr., and his wife, Nancy; several nieces and nephews and their families; one former in-law (Sony Rosegrant); and special family friend of more than 65 years, Marie Bahlke, and her family. She was preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, William R. Rosegrant (Bill); brother Roy O. “Sonny” Meyer and his wife, Gloria; and by many dear friends. Drusie was a much-beloved resident of Friendship Village, where she moved in 2011, the year after her husband died. Drusie’s family sends special thanks to the many Friendship Village staff members and residents who cared for and about her for the past nine years, as well as hospice workers from Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, who helped ease the last two months of her life. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Drusie’s name can be made to the Kalamazoo Nature Center by check, or by going to https://naturecenter.org/Donate/DONATE-TO-KNC, checking the box under “Tribute Gift,” and typing “Drusie Rosegrant” in the box that will appear. A memorial gathering will be held at a date still to be determined. The family is being assisted by the Avink Funeral Home & Cremation Society, 129 S. Grand, Schoolcraft, MI 49087 269-679-5622.

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I've known Drusie for many years through People's Church. I was the Director of Religious Education in the late 70s and early 80s. Drusie had no interest in teaching Sunday School but she loved the babies and toddlers and I could always count on her to work in the nursery for part of the church year. We shared a love of books and reading and belonged to the church book group. She would often review classics instead of modern books, especially Charles Dickens and Jane Austin. She even had us read "Alice in Wonderland" and the Book of Genesis from the Bible. Drusie helped me when I was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration five years ago. She gave me hope that I could continue to live an independent life. I always made sure she had her favorite coffee which we sold at church, shade-grown of course. I was blessed to know her over the years and will miss her. Marj Lightner

Marj Lightner Mar 27 2020 9:35 PM

I was in the People's Book Club with Drusie for about 30 years (she preceded me as a member of that group;I don't know how much longer she participated). I remember particularly noticing her mentioning that an author had highlighted smells. I tend to race through books -- focusing on theme, characters to a somewhat lesser extent. Until I learned to read any book I really liked at least twice, I missed so many details. I savored her presence in our group over those years. I admired her rationality, as well as her gentleness. I will miss you, Drusie.

Pat Nelson Mar 27 2020 7:58 PM

susan.rosegrant is following this tribute.

susan.rosegrant Mar 14 2020 8:53 AM