Dr. Rosemary Ann Talmadge, 66, of Brooklyn, New York, left this world on Saturday, January 30, 2021. She is survived by legions of fans including her wife, Brynna (Brenda) Kaulback, her daughters, Talmadge Nardi (Alan Mislove) and Shannon Lucas (Adam Broadway); and her grandchildren: Evan, Mira Rose, Galileo, Jordan, Luke, Thomas, Paul, and Rowan. She is survived by her mother, Rose Talmadge, her sister, Ka’ohu Cazinha (John Cazinha), her sister-in-law, Carol Vaughn (Michael Vaughn), and their children. She is survived as well by her former spouse, Jack Nardi. She was predeceased by her father, Robert Talmadge.
Rosemary was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where her parents were stationed at Camp LeJeune, a Marine Base. She and her family moved several times during her childhood, until they arrived at their last duty station in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where Rosemary graduated from St. Francis High School, and where her family stayed.
Rosemary graduated from the University of Connecticut (BA), Suffolk University (MPA), and Fielding Graduate University (MA, PhD). She spent much of her professional career in state government, first in the Connecticut State Legislature, and then in policy and programs at several Connecticut state agencies. She was proud of her work as the Director of the Job Connection, at the Connecticut State Department of Social Services, a program which transformed the lives of many women on welfare by supporting them in education and training.
Friends since 1979, Rosemary and Brynna married at the Unitarian Universalist Society East in Manchester, Connecticut in 1999. In 2000, they moved from Connecticut to New York City, where Rosemary worked in the President’s Office at LaGuardia Community College for 15 years as the Executive Director of Organizational Development and Planning, following which she was Senior Advisor for Global Initiatives at LaGuardia.
Her work was guided by a belief in dignity, equality, and justice. She always had time to listen, no matter how busy she was. Her ability to bridge to others, and help them see the good she saw in them, inspired love and admiration from many, as evidenced by the outpouring of words of admiration that came to her in the last weeks of her life, as she bravely made her journey along her challenging cancer path. Those whom she encountered over the years had felt heard, seen, valued, and changed by knowing her.
She had a visionary sense of what individuals and organizations might aspire to. She was a learning adventurer and a Catalyst, always seeking to find the next best way to create and support change, a characteristic which led her to such models and approaches as Open Space, Future Search, Appreciative Inquiry, Systems Thinking, and Theory U.
Some of the work of which she was most proud related to racial justice and to speaking across differences. She was Director of the Metro Hartford Conversations on Race through the Office of the Secretary of the State and then the NCCJ. At LaGuardia, she initiated a group on racial justice, which became a chapter of Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), whose work she continued to support until her death.
She was proud of both of her daughters, who call her a pioneer and explain that they stand on her shoulders in the work they each do.
She spent many delighted moments swimming on beaches in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod, and in her canoe or kayak at Maine’s Moosehead Lake and at the lake house she and Brynna owned for many years in the Sebago Lake area of Maine. Some of her happiest times were those engaging with her grandchildren; the pandemic that kept her from them broke her heart.
We will all continue to be inspired by her legacy.
A memorial service will be held on Zoom at 2:00 (EST), Sunday, February 7, through First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, New York, where Rosemary was a member. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org by Saturday, February 6th for Zoom information. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Share Cancer Support, an organization that helped Rosemary immensely in her journey with cancer (sharecancersupport.org).