Monday, October 10, 2011

Obituary: Rosanna "Rosie" Geier Roche - Class of 1935

MADISON  - Rosanna "Rosie" Geier Roche, age 94, died on Oct. 9, 2011, at the Don and Marilyn Anderson Hospice Center in Fitchburg.  Rosie was born Sept. 11, 1917, the 12th of 15 children born to Joseph and Anna Marx Geier. She attended Holy Redeemer School and was a 1935 graduate of Madison Central High. Rosie could easily have been lost in the crowd but her piano playing talent (playing anything by ear by the age of 4), established her as the Geier family "musician in residence." She began her formal piano training at the old Wisconsin School of Music under the tutelage of Olive Endres. Rosie became a very accomplished classically trained pianist winning the Wisconsin State Piano solo championship in 1935. She continued playing memorable recitals and was the accompanist for many soloists and orchestral groups. She won the hearts of the soldiers of World War II, traveling by train to entertain them at the various army posts where her husband Hal was assigned before his deployment to the South Pacific.  Rosie began her working career with the State Bureau of Personnel in 1935 and was one of the first four women to be employed by the Wisconsin Legislature as a committee clerk during World War II. Rosie caught the eye of a young Capital Times reporter named Hal Roche while he walked through the Madison State Capital building. He only saw her as she walked up the stairs and asked a friend, "Who is the girl with the beautiful legs?" The rest is history. Rosie and Hal were married on Valentine's Day 1942. Rosie's working career was put on hold after the war with the arrival of William (Billy) Roche. The addition of Patty and Theresa in the next five years extended her leave. Rose always said that the time spent with her children was the happiest time of her life. The addition of her two grandsons Andy and James added more joy and love.  Rosie resumed working when her "fledglings left the nest." She worked in the purchasing and payroll department of the Madison Board of Education until her retirement in 1982. After her retirement Rosie became an active volunteer with her church, St. Raphael Cathedral and Meriter Retirement Center where she helped with residents and played the piano for Mass every Tuesday until age 93. She volunteered at the information desk at the Madison City County building and helped at St. Vincent de Paul on Willy Street.  One of Rosie's greatest pleasures was sitting on her porch overlooking Monona Bay. She invited neighbors who were passing by to come in for a visit. Her little four legged neighbors Zoe, Cinder, Sam and Foxtrot were always welcome on Rosie's porch for a little treat.  Rosie was a loving wife, mother and grandma. We will remember her for her classic Rose Conclusions or "RC's." The "RC's" were Rosie's opinions on every subject in life, backed by no scientific or established evidence. "RC's" were never to be questioned - just enjoyed. Rose is survived by her children, Bill (Ellen) Roche, Patty (Ron) Wood of Madison, Theresa Roche (Betsy Schulz) of Bronx, N.Y.; and her grandson, James Wood of Madison. In addition to her parents, Rose was preceded in death by her loving husband, Harold (Hal); beloved grandson, Andrew (Andy); eight brothers and four sisters, Norbert, Sylvester, Joseph, Peter, Linus, Roman, Alois and Vincent; Sister Joanice (Armella), Laura (James) Reis, Marie (James) Shipley and Irene (John) McDermott. Our family wishes to thank all the caring neighbors who helped our mother and father over the years, especially Robin Douthitt and Brian Gould - the "angels" next door. Special thanks to Dr. Elizabeth George, Gail Gaustad and Ann Knudson for the kindness and loving care they always showed our mother. Pader Yang of Senior Helpers was Rose's wonderful caregiver and friend for two years. The Oregon Manor and HospiceCare treated our mother with warmth, compassion and dignity during her final months. Thank you all. A visitation will be held Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 6021 University Ave., Madison. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, at 11 a.m. at ST. JAMES CATHOLIC CHURCH, 1128 St. James Court, Madison, WI 53715. A visitation will be held prior to the service beginning at 10 a.m. Entombment will be at Resurrection Catholic Mausoleum.  Final thoughts: Dear Mom, you taught us to love, to laugh, to be strong and as Frank sang. "I did it my way." We love you, we will miss you but you will live forever in our hearts. In lieu of flowers, memorials would be appreciated to the Meriter Foundation, the Oregon Manor or HospiceCare Inc. Cress Funeral and Cremation Service 6021 University Ave., Middleton,

Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on October 10, 2011 (submitted by Michael Vahldieck, Class of 1968)

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