Obituary : Christine R. Whiting
On a bright, sunny Vineyard day amidst newly flowering tiger lilies, Christine Rosemary Whiting (known to all as Rosemary) died, on July 13.
She was born November 7, 1919 in Airdrie, Scotland to businessman James R. Menzies-Wilson and writer Jacobine Williamson-Napier, and, even after living in the U.S. for more than 60 years, still had a slight British accent. In 2006, after a long, productive life characterized by strong views, organizational talents, and a sense of civic duty, she retired to Martha's Vineyard, a place she had come to love.
As a young woman, she withdrew early from Cambridge University to help displaced persons in London during the Blitz. She later joined the A.T.S. (Women's Branch of the British Army) and rose from private to lieutenant. During the war she met a persistent U. S. Army Major, Dr. Richard G. Whiting from Medford, who described her in a letter to his mother as "one of the real English beauties, presented at court, etc." After refusing several times, she accepted his proposal of marriage over a trans-Atlantic telephone call with a connection so poor that she wasn't sure he had actually proposed and he wasn't sure she'd accepted. In 1946, when she arrived in "America" as she called it, her life as a G.I. Bride on Beacon Hill was far less exciting than in wartime London.
Coupled with her new husband's all-consuming job as an internist at Massachusetts General Hospital, her initial exposure to the Vineyard was to be farmed out for the summer (while her husband stayed in Boston to work) with her mother-in-law and her husband's sister Carol, listening to endless conversations about "the hurricane of '38."
Back in Boston, she quickly got involved in local political action. When the state and city threatened to turn open area along the Charles River into what eventually became Storrow Drive, Rosemary led a mothers' protest march on the Statehouse, with scores of women pushing baby carriages. This action contributed to preserving the continuous green space of the Esplanade, with the islands, pedestrian bridges, and children's playgrounds still enjoyed today.
Rosemary had a great love and knowledge of flowers. In addition to her own houses, all her children's homes were honored by an annual fall visit to plant bulbs. Her version of Johnny Appleseed was to get on her knees with children, grandchildren, friends, and neighbors to show them how to plant daffodils ("always in a clump and in odd numbers" so they could naturalize), snowdrops, crocuses, and tulips as well - always with a little bone meal. One of her great friends was fellow Boston G.I. Bride Thalassa Cruso, the WGBH-TV gardening expert.