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Rosemary Griffing, a lifelong resident of Shelter Island, died peacefully surrounded by family at Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport on Thursday, June 7, 2012, after a brief illness. She was 90.
Born on Shelter Island March 30, 1922, Rosemary was one of seven children of William Johnston and Phoebe (Simons) Johnston. She attended Shelter Island High School and spent her young adulthood working for the Bulova Watch Company in Sag Harbor before beginning her career as a telephone operator with New York Telephone Company.
At the switchboard in the Heights, she helped train many operators before relocating to a more modern facility in Riverhead as an information specialist. She retired after more than 30 years of distinguished service and loved telling her family stories of days before caller ID and cell phones, when people would call to be connected to someone, and if no one was home, she would say, “Hold on, I’ll find them for you.”
From a young age, Rosemary served her community. She was a lifetime member of the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, where she held many lay positions as well as volunteering for church-sponsored outreach programs. Her commitment to the Lord was evident through her 75 years of singing with her beloved church choir. She started singing in the choir as a teenager and never stopped.
As a soloist, her beautiful soprano voice could be heard at Sunday services and special concerts singing everything from simple hymns to show stoppers like “Hey Big Spender.” She cherished the time she spent with her musical family and the friendships she formed ran deep and lasted her a lifetime.
In addition to her love of music, Rosemary found joy in gardening and was a member of the Shelter Island Garden Club for more than 35 years. She was also a member of the Shelter Island Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary and in 2010 was honored for her 62 years of service.
A direct descendant of the first European settlers of Shelter Island, she was a 30-year-member of the Shelter Island Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) as well as a lifelong participant in the Shelter Island Historical Society.
After her first husband Rutherford “Duke” Lucas died, Mrs. Griffing married Mark B. Griffing Sr. in 1966 and raised her family.
She is predeceased by her husband Mark B. Griffing Sr.; her mother, Phoebe (Simons) Johnston, and father, William Johnston; sisters Isabel Bowditch and Grace Silvani; brothers William Johnston Jr. and Frances Johnston; and sons Mark B. Griffing Jr., Charles T. Griffing and Daniel J. Griffing.
She is survived by sisters Janet Zabel and Williette Piccozzi, both of Shelter Island; son David Griffing of Pueblo, Colorado; grandsons Dale Griffing of Pueblo, Colorado, Steven Griffing of Navesink, New Jersey, Christopher Griffing of Shelter Island, Geoffrey Griffing of Metuchen, New Jersey, Gregory Griffing of Jacksonville, Flordia and Lori Griffing of Pueblo, Colorado.
She is also survived by her beloved great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Funeral services will be held at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Shelter Island NSDAR Cemetery Fund, P.O. Box 221, Shelter Island 11964 or the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 612, Shelter Island 11964.