Rosemary Macdonald

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November 7, 1921 - January 31, 2004

Rosemary Macdonald was born and bred for her role as one of the founders of Apollo, having joined in September 1970. Her down-to-earth Irish ancestry and the exposure to early twentieth-century San Francisco standards of refinement, where according to her recollection ladies would never leave the house to shop without taking a hat and gloves, enabled her to be both practical in her approach to life as well as strive for the highest in terms of impressions and behavior.

Not only did Rosemary understand how to manage a family of four (three children and husband), she also knew how to run a walnut farm and raise horses. It was on her property in Vacaville that the very first agricultural octave for students began just prior to the purchase of the Fellowship acreage in Oregon House. It was Rosemary who contacted a lawyer who specialized in business so that the Fellowship could be set up as a religious, non-profit organization from the start. The Teacher expressed his appreciation for her guidance, as he often described her as a motherly figure for him, guiding him with her common sense. When asked how she viewed her contribution, she modestly replied, “I simply was in the right place at the right time.”

One early project in the development of Apollo demonstrates her straightforward, knowledgeable drive to actualize projects. It was her desire to create a self-sustaining community by planting an orchard above the Lodge (Apollo d’Oro) when the property was first purchased. Fall was the season to plant, and she discussed this with the Teacher. He had not given instructions to begin, and as the months passed in 1971, she took it upon herself to order the bare root trees and have them shipped to the property without his knowledge. How it would be planted and paid for would be decided later, she reasoned. And it was. She spearheaded the project with the Teacher’s permission. The orchard stands there today.

But it was the love of the arts that fed Rosemary’s essence. Working closely with Anna Gold, Rosemary had organized the ambitious schedule of the performing arts in the late seventies, where different artists appeared each weekend to educate students in classical music repertoire, from opera to chamber music. Late in life, she returned to playing the piano and began to study screenwriting. Her inquisitive nature was always on display whenever she would have a student over for tea. She wanted to know what that person was reading or learning and she was equally generous in sharing her recent lessons with others.

Rosemary’s truthfulness, consistent efforts and unwavering support for Robert and the School established her as a role model for many students who knew her. For those who came later, her invisible legacy lives on within all students who strive to attain the balance of beauty and necessity.

 

Epitaph:

You are not alone in your battle
An army of angels is fighting
Along with you

 

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 ( Click on the headstone to enlarge )

The soul which has the stronger and clearer sight
sees that it is starting for better things

Cicero

 

 

  1. Michael A. Jackson March 11, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Let us not forget how wonderfully playful Rosemary was, even in her chastisements:

    A group of students had gone to see an opera. Although we were seated about the theater during the performance we gathered together in the lobby afterwards and finally proceeded to the exit doors. As we all turned to head out Rosemary tapped the shoulder of a woman in front of her in the crowd and joyfully asked, “do you remember me? I’m the one who shushed you during the performance.”

    I suspect the “photograph” was not fully appreciated—but I also suspect it was remembered, by the two or three of us who heard, as much as the person who probably wished she hadn’t heard.

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