Rosemary was born in Atlanta, Georgia, as the first offspring of Rev. James A. and Rosette B. Alford. She was surrounded by Christian values and had a remarkable capacity to make moral choices, which she imparted to her three younger sisters and a brother. She was a role model, and throughout her life touched the lives of all who met her. She attended public schools in Atlanta and Newnan, Georgia. As a tribute to her father, a Morehouse College alumnus, she attended Spelman College and became a member of the Spelman’s Daughters’ Club.
Later, Rosemary moved to Washington DC to begin her professional career as a technical and non-technical Commercial Illustrator, creating drawings for print materials, commercial products and digital media in a field that was mostly dominated by men. She broke barriers professionally when she worked in the private sector as a designer for the engineering and architectural firms of David Taylor Model Basin, W. E. Merrimack, and Vitro Laboratories.
While visiting Norfolk, Virginia, Rosemary met her soul-mate and the love of her life Ronald Quincy Whitehurst. After her marriage, she made Norfolk her home and joined the First Baptist Church of Bute Street, her husband’s church, where three generations of his family worshipped. She and Ronald celebrated 50 years of a loving and happy marriage until her death. A family- oriented couple, they planned numerous family activities and trips over the years and generously donated resources to keep family members intact.
Rosemary’s skills led her to a successful transition to the federal government where she was a dedicated public servant and employed as an Illustrator for the U.S. Naval Safety Center in Norfolk and a Photo Journalist with the U.S. Coast Guard. Later, she rose to higher management, switched careers and became an Equal Employment Opportunity Manager where she focused on job discrimination in the workplace. She took pride in supporting the staff at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering, Norfolk District. Her outstanding work resulted in her being recognized with several prestigious awards.
Helping others was a lifelong love of Rosemary. She was driven to help others outside of work, emulating their pain and suffering and helping them find solutions. She had a keen sense of understanding health care issues and was a caretaker for many of her ill family members. She encouraged all to get medical checkups and in fact advised several friends throughout their illnesses. She set an example of love, devotion and dedication for her family and friends. Her zeal for care was unmatched by anyone from caring for her grandfather, parents, sister and brother. Family knew that if they were sick, Rosemary would be there. She had a plan of action when she arrived to see you and immediately began implementation.
She was involved in many organizations and was one of three founders of the American Association of Black Women Entrepreneurs where she brought her solid professional skills to the national trade association. As a national board member, she was responsible for the image, branding and media coverage of the organization in national and local publications. A successful entrepreneur, she managed RABA, Inc. specializing in graphic design, marketing, printing and advertising.
She positively impacted many other organizations, including the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, Blacks in Government, Federally Employed Women, National Active and Retired Federal Employees (Norfolk Chapter Legislative Officer), Chrysler Museum Friends of African American Art, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Lake Taylor Civic League, American Contract Bridge League, American Bridge Association and Afro-American Genealogy and Historical Society.
She leaves to mourn her husband Ronald Quincy Whitehurst, sisters Harriette A. Meriwether and Brenda Alford, nephews Dell Meriwether and Percy Meriwether, niece Jennifer Medlock and numerous other relatives.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to First Baptist Church, 418 East Bute Street, Norfolk, VA 23510, http://www.firstbaptistnorfolk.org/donations.html