In memory of an Iowa woman

Rosemary Smith was born on this day in 1926. She was my mother and I’m sharing her obituary below because she is so much on my mind today. In addition to the obvious reason for that, I can’t help but think how disappointed she would be about the Iowa caucus fiasco, the sorry condition of the party she worked so hard for, and the shambles of our democracy.

One did not ever want to disappoint Rosemary.

Rosemary McLaughlin Smith 1926-2001

Rosemary McLaughlin Smith, who died Sunday, Feb. 18, of congestive heart failure at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids at the age of 75, was a proud Irish Catholic Democrat and faithful to all three of those traditions.

Rosemary Smith

She was born Feb. 5, 1926, in Des Moines, the third of John and Lucile McLaughlin’s six children. She attended St. John’s School in Des Moines and graduated from St. Joseph’s Academy in the Class of 1944. She also attended Drake University.

She married Dr. Robert J. Smith and gave birth to six children. The couple lived in Iowa City, Des Moines and Stacyville before their divorce. Dr. Smith died in 1974.

Rosemary worked for the Principal Financial Group in Des Moines for 25 years before retiring in 1991. She was an active member of the Social Concerns Committee at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Des Moines and she served for several years as a precinct committee chairwoman for the Democratic Party on Des Moines’ West Side. She also volunteered in an adult literacy program at Drake University and was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement and Amnesty International.

Her daughter, Dr. Kathleen Smith Johnson, died of cancer in 1995. Rosemary is survived by three daughters, Christine Packnett of Madison, Wis., Marianne McLaughlin of Englewood, Colo., and Marcia Blank of Culver City, Calif.; two sons, Bernard of Cedar Rapids and Martin of Kansas City, Mo.; son-in-law Dr. Keith Johnson of Des Moines; a sister, Virginia Swift of Edina, Minn.; and four brothers, Daniel J. McLaughlin of St. Petersburg, Fla., John F. McLaughlin of St. Louis, Mo., Charles Edward McLaughlin of Carmel, Ind., and Thomas McLaughlin of Isanti, Minn. She had 12 grandchildren.

Rosemary moved to Marion, Iowa, in 1999 and was a member of St. Matthew Parish in Cedar Rapids. She loved her family, her faith, her politics and her travels to Ireland. She enjoyed a good cup of coffee and a nice glass of Merlot.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids. Rosemary donated her body to the University of Iowa School of Medicine. Her family asks that friends consider donations to the Alzheimer’s Association in lieu of flowers.

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A memoir of her last few years – Miles to Go: An Alzheimer’s Journal – is available on Amazon and free on request as a PDF from the author. Just comment on this page with your email address and I will send it to you.

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