Rosemary Dellwo Toft passed away peacefully Thanksgiving morning, November 25, 2021, at Angel Wings Adult Family Home in Des Moines, WA just south of Seattle with her twin daughters Maddy and Marie by her side. Her death comes after a long battle with Parkinson’s and dementia. Dick Toft, her husband, preceded her in death just 6 months earlier on Whidbey Island where they were residents for over 40 years. She is survived by her three daughters Marie, Maddy, Katie and her 5-year-old granddaughter, Bailey Bo. Rosemary, the oldest of eight, is also survived by her 7 siblings.
Rosemary was born and raised in Spokane, WA, the daughter of Robert and Madeline Dellwo. After graduating from Mead High School, Rosemary went on to graduate from Gonzaga with a BA in English Literature and her teaching credential. A highlight while in college was her participation in Gonzaga’s inaugural Florence study abroad program which she was able to share in again when she visited her daughter, Marie who also attended this program 30 years later. Rosemary began her teaching career in Oak Harbor after doing a teaching stint abroad in Japan. She met her husband, Dick, a Navy pilot while in Oak Harbor, WA. Her thirst for travel and adventure took her to many places as she and Dick lived the Navy life. From Florida, to Texas, back to Whidbey Island and then on to Washington DC/Virginia, Nevada, California and then returning to beautiful Whidbey Island where they retired. During their retirement, she and Dick enjoyed traveling abroad with friends and family.
Rosemary lived her life in service to others. Not just as a working mother of three, but also as a military spouse. She was driven to be there for other military wives and help them adjust to military life, often acting as single parents while the men were on cruise. Through the years she created a great support network that forged lifelong friendships. Rosemary also had a calling to be involved in her community. Through work or volunteering, her desire was to find ways to make an impact. This included supporting United Way and serving as President for some years, working at Monterey’s Upward Bound program, and participating in the local AAUW. She was also an ardent supporter of the arts, and specifically the Seattle Repertory Theatre, donating to and attending many of their productions.
Rosemary will be remembered for her passion for politics and staying up on the latest news, watching the nightly jeopardy match, and reading the newspaper from cover to cover. As a lifelong activist for women’s rights, she raised her three daughters to challenge the status quo and to believe in themselves, instilling in them the understanding that they can be anything they want to be. She created leaders out of each of them and they are forever grateful for the sacrifices she made in her own life that helped them become the confident and successful women they are today. Through all her adventures in life, Whidbey Island captured her heart. From her time working at Midway Florist and Wind and Tide books, to walking Ebey’s Landing with friends, she adored the beauty of the land and the wildlife and most importantly, the people.
Memorial/celebration services for Rosemary will be held this spring in Oak Harbor. She will be laid to rest with her husband Dick at the Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Rosemary’s name to American Association of University Women (AAUW), the National Organization of Women (NOW), or Planned Parenthood.