OBITUARY: Rosa Lee Greer

Rosa Lee Greer, 96, died Thursday (March 12, 2020) at the Kansas Christian Home in Newton. Private interment was in Greenwood Cemetery in Newton. A memorial service will be at a later date.

In the city of Mulvane, Kansas, on September 3, 1923, Erwin “Lee” and Clovia Maples became the parents of a baby girl, whom they named Rosa Lee. When Rosa Lee was three years old her parents separated and she moved with her mother to Wichita, Kansas. During her early childhood Rosa Lee’s health was compromised by tuberculosis making it difficult for her to attend a full day of school, often having to be excused to return home due to sickness.

Then, at the age of eight, Rosa Lee’s father legally obtained custody of her and she spent 18 months at a sanitarium for treatment. On March 4, 1934, the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 32nd President of the United States, Rose Lee was discharged and joined the household created by her father and his wife, Edith Pickett Maples. Despite being Rosa Lee’s step-mother, Edith, quickly became Rosa Lee’s mother; raising her as her own child.

Because Rosa Lee’s father was employed by the railroad, the family settled in Newton, Kansas in 1938. In 1943, she graduated from Newton High School along with Horace Toevs and other longtime friends. Following graduation, Rosa Lee began working at Boeing and that Summer she met Lowell Greer while traveling with a relative in Colorado. Lowell, who was in the U.S. Air Force serving during World War II, flew countless missions in a B-17. He and Rosa Lee became engaged to each other and nurtured their relationship by corresponding. They were married in Rosa Lee’s parent’s home in Newton on September 13, 1944.

After their marriage, while Lowell was still in the military service, Lowell and Rosa Lee traveled to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where Lowell was stationed at what is now the Will Rogers World Airport. Eventually the couple relocated back to Newton, Kansas where Lowell worked for the railroad. They became parents of four boys: Ronald, Jerry, Danny and Kent. When their youngest son, Kent, was five years old, Rosa Lee began work at Maxwell Flowers as a bookkeeper, a job she held for 32 years.

In March 1965, Lowell experienced rapid-onset muscle weakness and was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Rosa Lee continued her job at Maxwell Flowers devoting herself  to her husband’s care and to raising their four sons. In 1992 she retired from Maxwell Flowers. On November 11, 1992, after having lived 28 years with the damaging neurological condition, Lowell died while in residence at Kansas Christian Home.

Rosa Lee sold their house and moved to the converted Lincoln School Apartments where she lived for eight years. She was active with the V.F.W., American Legion and First United Methodist Church, and eventually became the organist at Trinity Heights United Methodist Church.

Rosa Lee was blessed with these siblings: Kenneth Maples, Howard T. Pickett, Gaylord Maples, Helen McKelvey, and Ethel May Goodmon (who was closest to Rosa Lee in age by six months). She was preceded in death by her parents; her siblings; her husband Lowell; and son Ronald.

Among those surviving Rosa Lee are sons: Jerry (wife, LaDonia) of Oklahoma City, OK, Danny (wife, Beckey) of Portland, OR., Kent (wife, Mary Ellen) of San Diego, CA., 13 grandchildren; several great grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.