“She was the most kind and devoted person I have ever known. I am so happy she is now at rest in the one place she has always wanted to visit – Heaven.”
“There was no one like her and few people I loved to talk with as much.”
“She was an incredible lady – and has left me with some wonderful memories. Oh, the reunion in Heaven last night. Loved her so much!”
“She was a spunky lady – a bit bossy! My mother said of her, ‘She would tell me what I ought to do. I would smile sweetly as I listened then when she left I would do exactly what I wanted to do!’ Aunt Rosa was a wonderful big sister for my mother. Rosa spent hours at other’s bedside when Mother was nearing Heaven – going over memories of China. Memories no one else could share.”
“I was blessed my whole life to have Rosa as a spiritual mentor. As a little girl she would read the most awesome books to Robyn and me. I would watch her as she studied her Bible so diligently and she eventually taught me how to mark my Bible with colored pencils just like she did. To this day that worn-out Bible all marked up is my most treasured possession on earth!”
“Such love, acceptance, spunk, wit, wisdom and grace – all rolled into one precious Godly woman.”
These are some of the remembrances friends and family shared upon hearing of the passing of Rosa Bell Montgomery, who entered the presence of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the age of 95.
Rosa was born on Feb. 28, 1918, the oldest of five children born to L. Nelson and Virginia Leftwich Bell, medical missionaries in Tsingkiangpu, China, and spent her first 14 years of life living in the Missionary Compound there. Her high school years were spent at boarding school in Korea, then she and her siblings were sent to America during the Japanese occupation of China while her parents stayed to run their hospital. Rosa then attended Wheaton College in Illinois; her goal was to become a doctor, like her father. The Lord had other plans for her life, however. She contracted tuberculosis while working in the hospital lab and had to leave college to recuperate in the New Mexico desert.
It was during her stay in the hospital that she met Don Montgomery, the man who would be her husband for 60 years. Don was visiting another patient in the hospital, saw Rosa, asked to be introduced and the rest, as they say, is history.
Rosa and Don married on June 10, 1945 and when Don was discharged from the Merchant Marines they settled in Los Alamos New Mexico. Don worked at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, and Rosa began teaching Bible Studies at their church. During this time they became parents to their one child, Robyn in 1957.
In 1962 Don and Rosa moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and while Don worked at the Test Site, Rosa continued her Bible Study ministry.
In 1969 the family returned to Los Alamos, New Mexico where they stayed until Don’s retirement in 1982. Again – Rosa continued her weekly Bible Study ministry. Upon retirement Don and Rosa moved to Orcas Island, Wash. where Don was born and raised.
When anyone would ask Rosa “why Orcas Island?” instead of New Mexico, Nevada, or North Carolina, where her parents and other family members resided, Rosa would reply, “I grew up in China; that is my first home; Orcas Island is my second home. There is no other place like it.”
On Orcas, Don puttered in the garage and planted flowers and fruit trees; and you guessed it – Rosa taught Bible Studies – and continued to do so until the age of 93.
They also travelled extensively and Rosa was able to return to China twice, even going to the place of her birth; they were members of the Gideons International, and the Orcas Island Community Church where both sang in the choir and Rosa played the organ for many of the services.
Don preceded Rosa in going to Heaven in 2005. Over the next several years their daughter Robyn tried unsuccessfully to have Rosa come live with her family in Oregon; Rosa adamantly refused, and stayed in her own home on Montgomery Lane in Eastsound until the moment she joined Don in Heaven.
Being a home maker, a mother, a grandmother, and a Bible teacher continued to be Rosa’s gifts and passions until the moment she died. Her primary concern in life was sharing the gift of Love Jesus gave us on the cross with any and all who would listen.
She is survived by her daughter and son in law, Robyn and Larry Myers, granddaughter and grandson, Lauren and Kelly Sigman, and grandson Ben Myers, all of Neotsu, Oregon; grandson and granddaughter Ryan Myers and Dusti Baer of Albany Oregon, and 4 great-grandchildren, Jarred, Daniel, Devin and Hailey, of Albany Ore.
The family wishes to acknowledge the all-enfolding love and support of their island family: Jane Mc Ilroy, Jerry and Tina Davidson, Ron and Vicki Montgomery, John and Faith Heath, and the members and pastors of the Orcas Island Community Church who made it their mission to “take care of Rosa”; the support provided by Kathryn Geary and Hospice of the Northwest; and the profound love and care that honored Rosa’s wish to stay in her home given by Lynn Jenssen, Linda Todd, Amy Cole, Becky Artrip and Barb Griffin.
A memorial service is being planned for a later date.
Contributions in Rosa’s memory can be made to Orcas Island Community Church, or the Gideons International.