Died peacefully at home on February 22, 2022 surrounded by friends and family. Rosemary was born in 1945 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and spent childhood in remote parts of West Virginia where she became determined to always live in places where there were sidewalks and libraries. She finished high school in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and then a BA at American University, School of International Service; this included a year at the University of Stockholm. In 1968 her husband Bruce, who was in the National Guard, was ordered to Vietnam. They left the United States and found humanitarian asylum in Sweden. From 1968 to 1972 she worked for the newly established Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. And so began a long career that spanned the globe; always with the goal of achieving equity and good for others.
In 1972 Rosemary and her husband immigrated to Canada and settled in Winnipeg (a perfect place to learn about Canada),where she began working for the provincial government in health and social services. In 1974 their daughter Allison was born and Rosemary returned to university earning an MSW in social policy. Shortly thereafter, she became director of a community health centre. In 1980 she moved to Toronto to work in policy and strategic planning in the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services. In the late 1980’s she led a reform of long term care that integrated health and social services and included the establishment of Community Care Access Centres. She was very proud to be part of a plan that would provide all Ontarians with better access to care and she benefited from the program herself in her last year of life.
In 1993 she became Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, where she obtained approval for the first Aboriginal child welfare agency in Toronto. Her productive and successful career in public service ended immediately after the 1995 provincial election. This fortuitous event enabled a career change and from 1996 to 2000 she lived in Johannesburg and worked in a Canadian-funded project to assist the newly elected South African government. All of the skills and abilities she had used improving the lives of Canadians were then applied to the betterment of emerging democracies.
On returning to Canada in 2000, she began consulting with federal government departments, largely in the fields of Aboriginal health services and on improving consultation with Aboriginal organizations. The consultation projects expanded to include international work in policy development and government organization in Suriname, Trinidad, Libya, Rwanda, Pakistan, Moldova and Kosovo. She was encouraged that her expertise could lead to meaningful change and she was incredibly fortunate to travel the world and meet many wonderful people.
Upon retirement, Rosemary continued being active. She enjoyed many lively discussions about politics, global affairs and justice with her numerous friends and family members. She spent time appreciating the diverse arts culture in her home, Toronto, and exposing her grandchildren to the importance of political and historical analysis.
Rosemary also had many rewarding and memorable travel adventures with friends. She saw the Great Zimbabwe ruins, mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and in Taxila, Pakistan, the ruins of a city founded by Alexander the Great. She was a brilliant woman who led a rich, impactful and fulfilling life. Rosemary is survived by her daughter Allison (Andrew Norrie) and grandchildren Sydney and Daniel, sister Karen of West Hartford, Connecticut, and brother Eric (son Sam) of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and by god-daughter Elise Proctor-Leader (Craig Bell, Aurelia) of Winnipeg. She leaves countless friends with whom she shared good food, laughter and love. Rosemary will be missed and always remembered for the many unique and important ways she affected those that were fortunate enough to know her.
With thanks to Dr. James Meuser and the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care for their exceptional support and care. Donations may be made in Rosemary’s honour to Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, or the Temmy Latner Centre. A memorial to celebrate Rosemary’s life will take place in the spring when an event with all of her friends and loved ones can occur safely. Please refer to Cardinal Funeral Homes website for further details.
May 27, 2022
Graydon Hall Manor
Join us for a Celebration of Life. Doors open at 11am and the ceremony to begin at 11.30am. RSVP to: https://www.redbirdevents.ca/event/rosemary-proctor