Rosemary Staples

Reviving Interests

    Some people are just plain fun. Rosemary Staples is one of them. Her upbeat attitude and humor, which could cheer even the most resolute curmudgeon, have no doubt supported her through numerous life changes, including a temporary revival of youth-a leap from menopause to puberty-when she met TV personality/actor, Craig Ferguson. "It was like being a teenager again," she said, laughing at the silliness of it. "I first saw him on TV. I had fallen asleep with the television on and woke up to see him. I thought he was so handsome and funny, and wondered, 'Hmmm, who's that?!'"
    In July, when Staples attended Ferguson's appearance at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia, she was dressed to the nines and determined to meet him. "I was in the front row for the hilarious two-hour performance," she said. "Afterward, when a man came along to take a group backstage, I weaseled my way into the group. Ten minutes later, I was in. It was fabulous! After blurting out 'Craig!' I did manage to chat with him. He was so nice and signed my book. I had never done anything like that before. But, when it comes to taking opportunities in life, I always feel that I should take the leap, take the risk! I trust that as long as I'm living with integrity, authenticity, love and joy, I'll be taken care of and good things will happen."
It was that spirit that helped Rosemary start over when her husband died in 1993. She and her then six-year-old son, Jonathon, moved from Atlanta to Hilton Head Island, hoping that their new environment would help them find a new life. "In those days, my primary focus was raising my son; I wanted to be home for him," she said. Now Jonathan is a senior, majoring in biology, at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and is currently doing independent study in neuroscience.
    "Over the years, I got involved with Toastmasters, other clubs and volunteer work, including the Hilton Head Island Foundation," said Rosemary. "I've done some writing, given local tours and really enjoyed my life. It's only recently that I feel like I'm on a new path."
    Rosemary will be focusing her writing and tours on historic women. "I was never interested in history until I came down here," she said. "In 1998, when I was writing about Marsh Tackies, the mini-horses that the Spanish brought to the Sea Islands in the late 1400s, my research through 500 years of Carolina history sparked my curiosity, particularly in women who made a difference to Lowcounty history."
    Rosemary plans to bring these women back to life by telling their stories in character. "There are so many!" she said. "There's Eliza Lucas Pinkney, who established the process of making dye from indigo, which became a bigger cash crop for South Carolina than rice. And Juliette Gordon Lowe, who founded the Girl Scouts. And Mary Telfair, who helped local women receive health care, and Clara Barton."
    Clara Barton? Here? "We know her mostly for her work during the Civil War and for creating the American Red Cross. But in 1893, when she was about 70, a hurricane hit Savannah and the islands, devastating the area and killing 2,000 people. Homes were demolished and crops were destroyed. Clara Barton and a doctor came here, raised money, got people to work again and helped restore things to order," explained Rosemary. Ah yes, another woman who experienced more than a few revivals in her life.

Up Close

Alumnus of: University of Georgia Hint at her humor: Owns a complete DVD set of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers episodes. Has a "teenage" crush on Craig Ferguson. Previous career: Statistical process control. "I've always enjoyed taking a complicated subject and making it interesting." Plans for 2009: Giving tours in the character of historical women. Philosophy: "I do what I'm inspired to do, and see what happens." Look For: "Her new column in Pink - We've Come a Long Way Baby on page 69.