Memorial Meeting for Susan Rose, 1938-2009

On 5/10/2009, Patapsco Friends Meeting held a called meeting for worship to celebrate the life of Susan Norris Rose, a founding member of our Meeting and our first clerk.  The picture banner at the top of our website is from that memorial, held in front of Hebron House.  A memory book was prepared for the occasion, and a special issue of the Quaker Heron was also published on that day.  Introductory remarks will be added to this post as way opens.  Also her memorial minute by Patapsco is below.

Susan Norris Rose, May 4, 1938-April 1, 2009

On May 10, 2009, three Meetings—Patapsco Friends, Sandy Spring Friends, and South Mountain Friends Fellowship—celebrated the life of Susan Norris Rose. We have been enriched by her loving energy, and study, practice, and teaching of Quakerism. While she is missed, her gifts to Friends will remain.

Susan Norris was born in Pittsburgh, to Lois Ashworth and Frank Newkirk Norris. In her early years, Susan was an avid and enthusiastic Girl Scout. After nine years of Scouting she was honored by her selection to All-States Encampment in Wyoming, and after ten years of Scouting she was sent as an international Senior Scout to Jamaica.

She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in philosophy. Jim Rose, another Cornell graduate, entered her life, and they married in 1964. After a year and a half in India, they moved to Baltimore, where Susan continued her education. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Master’s degree in psychology. Her career was full of change and variety, as she advanced from historian to scholar, to world traveler, to researcher in language acquisition, to real estate agent, to owner of and artisan at Artists and Framers, to publisher.

Susan brought great energy and joy to mothering her two sons. Joshua was born in 1966, and Andy in 1967. Andy introduced Quakerism to Susan when he attended Camp Onas. Joshua and his wife Renata O’Conner-Rose gave the Roses a grandson, Benjamin, in 2002.

In 1990, after attending a Quaker wedding, Susan started attending worship at Sandy Spring Friends Meeting in Sandy Spring, Maryland. Her life was changed. Of Friends meeting she wrote, “Nowhere else in my life am I so present, so alive. I am lifted up, better than I ever was. This is God and His People’s gift to me: the gift of preemptive love that gathers and binds me to the people called Friends.” Her studies of Quaker history and practice led her to offer instruction to others as her spirituality blossomed. In 1996, Susan joined several others to form a new Howard County Friends Worship Group and she served as its first clerk. That group grew and matured to become Patapsco Friends Meeting, which became a Monthly Meeting in 2002.

Serving Quakers became first nature to her. Within the framework of Patapsco Friends Meeting, she taught many sessions of Quaker 101, served on committees, cooked lunches, began a library, organized retreats, created a labyrinth from clothesline and stakes, and nurtured the meeting with regular messages during worship. Over her sixteen years of Quaker activity, Susan served on the board at Friends House; edited newsletters for Friends Peace Teams and the Sierra Club; studied and taught AVP at Patuxent Institution in Jessup.

One attender shares his first impression of Susan: “I saw her huge smile, and was nearly knocked down! I witnessed integrity, open mindedness and a willingness to think long and hard about her own beliefs. I was impressed. I figured if she could do that, so would I.”

In April 2004, an inmate from Maryland Correctional Institute in Hagerstown, MD wrote to Patapsco Friends requesting aid in starting a Friends Meeting at the prison. Susan was led to take on this ministry, as, she reported, “I woke up thinking about [him] and it was clear to me that [he] had made a very simple request…it was clear and compelling.” Deeply committed to the new South Mountain Friends Fellowship, Susan spent uncountable hours in her final years on the prison ministry. After organizing a group of Patapsco Friends to volunteer for the visits to the Hagerstown prison, two by two each Saturday, Susan herself was one of the two more often than not. In addition, she supported “the guys” by writing inspirational letters to them between visits.

Susan was an ardent reader, and her spiritual life was reflected in the writers she loved and quoted at Meeting. She had a deep respect for the life and writings of John Woolman and was instrumental in starting a Woolman discussion group which met for 4 years. Susan delighted in sharing her knowledge of Woolman’s life and his approach to dealing with a wide range of life’s situations, and his diligent application of Quaker values. In particular, Susan is remembered as beaming and rejoicing during the reading of the following passage from Woolman’s epistle for Friends in the back settlements of North Carolina:

“Where people let loose their minds after the love of outward things, and are more engaged in pursing the profits and seeking the friendships of this world, than to be inwardly acquainted with the way of true peace, they walk in a vain shadow, while the true comfort of life is wanting. Their examples are often hurtful to others; and their treasures thus collected do many times prove dangerous snares to their children.

“But where people are sincerely devoted to follow Christ, and dwell under the influence of His Holy Spirit, their stability and firmness, through a divine blessing, is at times like dew on the tender plants round about them, and the weightiness of their spirits secretly works on the minds of others. In this condition, through the spreading influence of divine love, they feel a care over the flock, and way is opened for maintaining good order in the Society….”

Susan loved the poertry of Hafiz:

When one can surrender the illusion, the crutch,
of Free Will,
Though still live—for the benefit of others–
The highest of moral
Codes

She loved Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew:

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God….”

And Paul from First Corinthians: “Love is patient and kinds, envies no one, is never boastful, never conceited, never rude, never selfish…”

Her diagnosis of lymphoma and attendant trials of treatments and disabilities began in 1994, soon after her discovery of Quakers. Of this, Susan said, “Without doubt, these 15 years I have been given are the most important years of my life. My diagnosis…awakened [me] to the joy of being on a spiritual journey, a journey to the Center…I have been blessed to learn to seek the loving kindness that binds us each to the other. I have been blessed to feel its power to bring me peace. All is well.”

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