Floral 11

Rosemary Hester Bouchard

December 10, 1925 ~ February 14, 2020 (age 94)


ROSEMARY HESTER BOUCHARD died on February 14, 2020, while living at the Heritage Park Care and Rehabilitation Center in Bradenton, Florida. She was 94 years old. Rosemary had moved from Lancaster, Massachusetts, to Bradenton in 1995 with her husband Paul W. Bouchard, who died in 2018 at the age of 89. She was predeceased by her mother and stepfather, Verna Hazel (Luttrell-Smith) Clem and Frederick Clem. She is survived by her five children, Dennis, Lucinda, Tammy, Nancy, and Debra, as well as twelve grandchildren, twenty-two great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren—all descended from her first marriage to Clarence Basil Evans, who died in 2003. Other surviving family members include nieces and nephews descending from her six siblings. Those brothers and sisters are: Ruth [Deceased], Delores, John [Deceased], Gerald, Charles, and Camille. In-law relations that were special to Rosemary include the families descended from her father and mother-in-law, Clarence Deward Evans and Edith Ethel Evans.

Rosemary is well remembered because of her several talents and virtues. As a skilled seamstress, she sewed several sets of matching dresses for her daughters when they were young. She knitted or crocheted many afgan blankets, baby caps and sweaters, which became gifts to daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As a craft artist she made items such as angels made of beads, miniature hand-painted ceramic tea sets and baby shoes, all given as gifts. Anyone visiting her home recognized her decorative skills in the orderly placement of collectible glassware, lamps, comfortable furniture, cabinets, and wall paintings—some that she painted herself. She had a particular liking for the apple as a décor theme. Rosemary was known for her excellent cooking. Highly nominated “best meals” by the grandchildren are Hungarian Goulash and Lamb Curry with either mashed potatoes or potato salad as the side dish. She was a prolific writer, whose writings included many personal journals, a memoir about her youth, and lengthy letters to family and friends. She was an active participant in family events throughout her life. A birthday was always remembered with a sent card. All of her daughters and most granddaughters saw Rosemary involved in their weddings, even after she moved to Florida. She never held a grudge against anyone, and when interacting with any of her many offspring she acknowledged their potential and encouraged them to succeed according to their talents. As a result, Rosemary was much loved by all her “children.”

In her memoir entitled Reflections of the Past — For Future Generations, Rosemary gives an account of her first twenty years of life. She was born on December 10, 1925, in the small village of Bismarck, Illinois—the firstborn of Hazel (Luttrell Smith) Clem, married at that time to John Raymond Smith. Within the first twelve years following her birth, Rosemary was joined by three brothers and three sisters. In 1930, the young family moved five miles south to Danville, Illinois, into the home of Hazel’s sister and brother-in-law, Fern and George Slifer. Aunt Fern “was a member of the First Church of The Nazarene, was very religious and spent most of her time reading the Bible.” (Reflections) However, it was Fern and Hazel’s mother, Flora Belle Luttrull, who became a model for Rosemary’s Christian devotion, an influence recognized in her memoir. “Besides being a wonderful cook, my Grandma was a Saint! She never missed going to church on Sundays and Wednesday night Prayer Meeting. She was a wonderful Christian, very faithful, and loved the Lord more than anything in her life. During the Testimony Service she would stand up and tell how much God had helped her, and sometimes she would get really happy and run up and down the aisle waving her handkerchief, with the tears running down her cheeks. She was thanking and praising the Lord for all the wonderful things He had done for her.” (Reflections) In 1931, when the Smiths moved into a rented home, Rosemary’s family attended the nearby North Side Nazarene Church. She and her brothers and sisters went to that church until they married, when some left Danville.  

John Raymond Smith earned a low income during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He was an artistic man who did home interior/exterior decorating, and Danville’s churches hired him to paint street-banner signs announcing revival meetings. When his income became insufficient—there were times when their electricity was shut off due to non-payment—he worked for the federal government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA). To fill a food shortage, John got up early on weekends to hunt rabbits in the woods with a B-B gun and Hazel picked wild berries for pie making. This not being enough, however, the family applied for food-relief distributions. Rosemary writes, “This was very degrading and embarrassing for my mother. A truck came around our neighborhood and brought all kinds of food to those who needed it. All of the kids loved it. We didn’t care or even know why we were getting all of this good food. For us it was a happy day! We didn’t know you had to be “poor” to receive it! We didn’t know we were poor!” (Reflections) Despite the economic problems, the family was held together by the strict discipline of Hazel and the happy involvement of John with his children. “At night Dad made us popcorn and helped us with our homework. We had a piano, and Dad played while Bud, Ruth and I sang in trio. He taught us how to harmonize. I always sang alto. We often sang on a radio program at WDAN Station for our church services on Sunday mornings!” Rosemary and Ruth, the eldest and second eldest child respectively, were kept busy doing all the house chores and giving their brothers and sisters baths in a galvanized steel tub in the kitchen. Regarding the house chores, Rosemary recalls, “Our mother was very particular about keeping the house clean. If we didn’t do it right she made us do it over again. Even after we were all married she would come and inspect our houses! I’m sure that’s why I am as particular as I am today—she drove it into me! I always must have everything organized and in order at all times.” 

Going to the North Side Nazarene Church played a central role in Rosemary’s early life. Regarding what church-life was like for her at twelve years old, she writes, “We spent most of our time going to church. Wearing make-up was a sin, going to movies was a sin, and many thought wearing jewelry, even wedding rings, was a sin. We enjoyed our lives in the church. We didn’t doubt the way we were taught. If we felt we disobeyed God we went to the Alter and asked forgiveness. I hope God forgives us for not being as spiritual as we were in the ‘good ole days!’ I miss them.” Her father was the Choir Director and Sunday School Superintendent at the church, and prayer meetings were held at their house mid-week. Then, in 1940 a significant change occurred at North Side Church. The Smith family had attended church meetings since coming to Danville in 1930. But a neighboring family, the Evans household, had been nonreligious and a source of trouble in the area. When they were kids, Charles Evans had stolen Rosemary’s bicycle and Clarence B. Evans had thrown a stone through the Smith family’s front window. A family transformation began when, at the age of sixteen, Charles was “saved” and converted to the Nazarene faith with the help of a minister who had moved into a house directly across the street from them. Within a short time, the Evans clan was converted by Charles, and the whole family, which included the parents and eight children, began to attend church at the North Side Church. “They were all talented. Mr. Evans became our church pianist and Charles, Jack and Clarence sang trio. Audrey, the oldest, had a beautiful solo voice and sang on many Sunday mornings. Mr. and Mrs. Evans stopped playing cards and began teaching Sunday School classes. We all became very involved in church activities as we grew older and started dating.” (Reflections) The consequence to Rosemary of this change was the start to the next phase of her life—to the wife of an Army career-man, which would require worldwide residence changes. 

Clarence Basil Evans was drafted into the Army in December 1943, reported for duty in Camp Crowder, Missouri, then immediately fell ill with pneumonia and spent six months in an Army hospital. Rosemary and Edith Evans traveled from Danville to visit Clarence in the hospital, but Rosemary ended up staying with friends nearby until she and Clarence married in May, 1944. Although they had been dating for a while and corresponded by mail frequently, the swift marriage was completely unexpected. They were both eighteen years old. Rosemary’s commentary about this is, “I lived in Danville and could hardly wait to get home at night for my "love letters!" Many days I would catch a bus at noon and hurry home, run about a block to our apartment, get my mail and run back to the bus stop—to work the rest of the afternoon—much happier! Ridiculous? Yes. But that's what love is all about when you're young and stupid!” (Reflections) A lifelong career in the military wasn’t Clarence’s initial plan. Upon his discharge from the Army in 1946, Clarence and Rosemary moved into an apartment in Danville. And while he completed a year’s study at a business college, she was pregnant with their first child. A boy, whom they named Dennis, was born on October 30, 1946. Nine months later, the family moved to Idaho, where Clarence entered the Northwest Nazarene College, a liberal arts college associated with the Church of the Nazarene. He majored in Psychology. However, the birth of a second child in 1950 made it necessary for Clarence to seek fulltime employment and forgo a college degree. He opted to re-enlist in the Army where he worked as an accountant throughout his career of twenty years. The trip to Idaho was the farthest move from her Danville home that Rosemary had made. It was the first of many. Over the next twenty years, she and her family would move to five townships in four states within the United States, and travel to two foreign countries. The difficulties of raising and frequently moving a family made Rosemary conclude, “I would never advise any young couple to get married while in the [military] service. It's hard enough to get adjusted to being married in “normal” living—but living the life in the army is abnormal!” (Reflections)  

Army life was “normal” for almost the entire six years lived in Idaho, however—even after a third child was born. The family didn’t live on a military base surrounded by a fence with guarded gates, but rather in civilian apartments and homes. The beginning of the new life was simple. When Clarence began college he rode Rosemary and Dennis around town on a bicycle. By the time Dennis was four, the family owned a car and even a piano, which Clarence had learned to play. Every Saturday night was “bath night.” Every Sunday morning Rosemary put dinner in the oven before they went to the Nazarene church so that when they got home it was ready to eat. On occasional Friday evenings, the family went to the drive-in movie theatre. On other nights they drove to the A&W Root Beer drive-in restaurant where a carhop brought cold root-beer mugs, overflowing with sweet foam, on a tray that attached to the outside of the car at the driver’s window. Relatives from Danville came to visit occasionally, including Clarence and Rosemary’s parents and sisters. Hazel had divorced John Smith in 1940 and married Frederick Clem in 1944. He worked for a major railroad company, and all in the family could ride the passenger trains for free.

There appeared to be no need for this kind of life to end. But it did end quite abruptly in September 1953. Clarence announced that he was being transferred to Okinawa, Japan, which the United States had defeated in war only eight years earlier. This news deeply troubled Rosemary, and she believed that the transfer was something that Clarence had asked for. There was also a serious complication: he would need to be transferred to the Philippine Islands first, where no family dependents were allowed. Rosemary and her three children would be separated from the father for an indefinite period of time and moved back to Danville. The “abnormal” life of a family in the armed services had begun. For nine months Rosemary and her children lived in a small house in Danville. Within that period Dennis began his first grade of elementary school and contracted the mumps, measles and chicken pox, transmitting all three diseases to his sisters. Debra drank a half-cup of bleach that had been set on a counter top, which required an emergency trip to the hospital. Rosemary set up a Christmas tree and hid wrapped gifts, which she attempted to place under the tree as Santa Claus—ineffectively because Dennis slept on the living-room couch and was awake to watch everything. Despite these trials, Rosemary was successful at keeping her children secure, well fed, and happy. Finally, in June 1954, military orders came for her to pack the family belongings, travel by train to San Francisco, California; board a Navy transport ship and cross the Pacific Ocean with three kids to join Clarence in Okinawa, Japan. The ocean voyage took two weeks. 

Just how different life would be for Rosemary, who was twenty-eight years old, became evident the moment they arrived at their new home in the Futenma Housing Area. Waiting beside the house was a clamoring pack of Okinawan women begging to work as the family nanny and housemaid. Clarence chose a quiet woman standing at the back of the group. Her name was Yoshiko. Built into every single-level, flat-roofed home was a maid’s bedroom with a private bathroom. So, Yoshiko lived as a member of the family and, for a small wage, did most of the housework and cooked some meals. She ate with the family and babysat the children when necessary. This arrangement was contrary to how Rosemary had lived up till then. And a new social life disoriented her. Other Army wives in the neighborhood, having little work to do at home, gathered together for coffee and conversation. And married couples formed friendships and went out to drink, dance and eat at the nightclubs on the Kadena Air Base. Although the nanny service was exclusive to Okinawa, the military social culture was consistent worldwide, as Rosemary would discover. Years later, in letters to her son, she reflected on her experience as an Army wife:  “When we went to Okinawa I never went to women's homes for coffee like most people did. In fact at one time there were six women who came to our house one time for coffee—and I got so tired of talking and discussing stories about having babies and what their kids were doing at certain ages, I went in the kitchen to be alone. I can remember standing there and looking out the window, wishing they would all leave. I have never been a person who visits neighbors and never minded being alone. Maybe that’s because all of my life I have taken care of "kids!" I started babysitting when I was in the first grade!” (Letter 2002.03.11) “Our trip overseas to Okinawa was an emotional change for me. Even though we had a nice home when we arrived I was unhappy there. After that we didn’t go to church at all and our way of living seemed so different—as if we were in another world and just existing for a while. That kind of life lasted for quite a few years [including after leaving Okinawa] and I didn’t particularly enjoy it all but had learned, by that time, to take the bad along with the good and could do nothing about it anyway. As wife and mother we were expected to go wherever the father’s work existed.” (Letter 2003.09.22) Rosemary’s fourth child was born in Okinawa. Nine months later, after living in Okinawa for two years, the family again boarded a ship for the long voyage back to the United States. 

“As wife and mother we were expected to go wherever the father’s work existed.” That was how Rosemary endured the life she considered to be abnormal. She endeavored to make life, at least for her children, as normal as possible. And today they would say that their lives were normal as well as interesting because of their mother’s strength. Throughout her life as an Army wife, she didn’t need to work outside the home for income. However, Clarence often worked part-time in service-sector jobs to supplement his Army salary. The Army life had not been his first choice either, yet he made efforts to provide what the family needed. 

In the summer of 1956, the family moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A fifth child was born there a year later. There was no live-in housemaid, and with five children, including an infant, there was plenty of work at home for Rosemary. So, she trained the older children to do housekeeping, which included washing the dishes, pots and pans. For Rosemary there were many neighbors, but no annoying coffee klatch tradition to endure. The family got its first television. Everyone had more than what they needed, even though the relation of mother and father was wanting. The family way of life in Fort Bragg became the pattern for the remainder of Clarence’s career. In November 1958, the family went on its first jet airliner flight—to Frankfurt, Germany. Three-and-a-half years later, in the spring of 1962, Rosemary and her family left Germany and moved into a duplex apartment in Fort Devens, Massachusetts. It was the final destination and residence in her “abnormal” way of life. Two years later, Rosemary and Clarence separated and later divorced. Rosemary moved with her children into an apartment in Clinton, Massachusetts. In 1965, just before she turned forty, she acquired a good-paying job as a graphic artist at a printing company called Colonial Press. The consequence to Rosemary of this family transformation was the start to the next phase of her life—to the mature mother with more control over her future. 

The job at Colonial Press enabled Rosemary to purchase her first home, not far from Clinton, in Lancaster, Massachusetts. By that time, in 1968, Dennis was in college and the daughters were nearing independence. In 1978, Rosemary and Paul Bouchard married. But before she could move to Florida, a duty remained that took the entire decade of the 1980s to fulfill. Rosemary wrote about it in her memoir, Memories of My Loving Mother. Verna Hazel Clem, whom everyone knew as Hazel, had retired and moved with Fred Clem to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A few years after “Papa” Clem died, which was in 1975, Hazel went to live in Indiana with her daughter and son-in-law, Ruth and Dale. “In 1981 Ruth and Dale called me from Elkhart and asked if I could take Mom for a couple of weeks while they went on vacation to Florida. Of course my answer was “yes,” and I could hardly wait for her to arrive.” (Memories) When the couple weeks were up, however, Rosemary wanted to have her mother stay. “We were having fun together and I felt like she needed me. Paul accepted all of this change and didn't mind her being there with us. At last I felt needed and enjoyed taking care of my mother. We kept busy going shopping and acted like a couple of young girls together. It reminded me of younger days in Danville.” As a few months passed, Hazel, who was seventy-six years old, had episodes of mental confusion, and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She lived with Rosemary and Paul for three years before a doctor advised that Hazel be put into a nursing home. Rosemary writes, “It was the most difficult decision I had ever made, but I knew I wasn’t capable to give her my full attention. It was like giving up a small child and it literally broke my heart!” During the six years Hazel was in the nursing home, Rosemary visited often and from time to time brought her mother home to wash her hair and go out for lunch or ice cream. On November 6, 1990, at the age of eighty-six, Hazel died. Rosemary remembers her mother this way: “Mom was the most unselfish person I have ever known. Once she said, ‘If I had a lot of money I’d buy all my kids a house on the same street so we could always be together!’ She loved being with us.” (Memories)

In 1995, when she was seventy years old, Rosemary sold her home in Lancaster and moved to Bradenton, Florida. For the next twenty-five years she and Paul lived in a condominium home that was in the midst of an 18-hole golf course. It was a perfect location for Paul, whose favorite pastime was to play golf. Rosemary played golf too, and worked for a while in committees that organized events at their golf course. At one such event she arranged the flowers in vases on tables, served punch, and cleaned up afterwards. Groups from the condo association joined in social outings, such as to a Broadway stage play in Sarasota, followed by dinner at the Longboat Key. Social life in Florida began to resemble life in Okinawa, and Rosemary found that she was happy to stay at home. “I watch all the birds, ducks, geese and sea gulls that land out here on the golf course. I know when they are mating, watch when the goose sits on the eggs for month and months, and see the gander relaxing in the water and goes where he wants while she is stuck there on those eggs. I can write [she wrote dozens of letters to her children], read, or watch TV with Paul, or make cakes and muffins. I love to cook good meals. A lot of these women have stopped cooking since they have come down here. For me it’s an effort to put all my make-up on, get dressed up, go out, and stand in line to eat.” (Letter 2001.06.15) One important difference was that she found a church to associate with, the First Church of The Nazarene, where she sang in the choir. Rosemary had already been a self-reflective person before moving to Florida, but once there, this trait intensified. This reflective tendency is notable in a letter she wrote after being in Florida for only a short time. In that letter to her son, written on September 15, 1996, Rosemary expressed a conviction she held for the remainder of her life. “Being here in Florida is restful—with no stress—we have many friends, but no one can ever make me happier than my family. So many times I sit in my recliner at the end of a day, just relaxing—and I begin to think of the passing years and how quickly they go by. Then I remember when you were all young – growing up in Okinawa, Germany, North Carolina, Massachusetts – and I wonder how our lives would have been if we had settled down in a small community – had normal lives – without the stress of traveling and moving around! But at least it wasn’t a boring life. Some children never get out of their state – so maybe your experiences helped mold your personalities, I don’t know. One thing I do know is that I love all of you just the way you are. We are a family of many personalities! We are all different! I could write a story about each one of my children and every story would be an interesting one. Someday, hopefully, I will do that. I don’t have much time left—and believe me I’m always in a hurry trying to do it ALL!

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