March 1, 1937 – January 5, 2023
Rosemary Hill (Kirby), loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, passed away peacefully in the early morning of January 5, 2023. She was 85.
Rosemary was born in Washington, DC on March 1, 1937. She grew up in Fort Foote, Maryland, in a house her father built, next door to her grandparents. She was the oldest of five children, John, Rita, Louise, and Paul. When she wasn’t helping her parents on the farm and with her younger siblings, she spent her days with friends along the Potomac.
The family spent their summers in Scientists’ Cliffs, a community perched atop the Calvert County cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay. As a teenager, Rosemary was hired as the Director of Recreation and organized activities for the community, including carnivals, talent shows, movie nights, baseball games, and lectures. She gave swimming lessons, planned cookouts, and organized weekly ladies’ card games.
Rosemary attended the University of Maryland, College Park. There, she met the love of her life, Jack Hill, in the Catholic Student Center. Jack’s opening salvo was “Aren’t you from New Jersey?” Luckily, the charm of this particular pickup line was uniquely effective on Rose and the two hit it off. Jack impressed Rose with how sweetly he treated his mother; that’s when she knew he was the one. They were married 50 years.
After their wedding on August 29, 1959, Jack and Rose settled in Baltimore. Over the next 50 years, they moved all around Maryland to Camp Springs, then to Gaithersburg, and Prince Frederick and ultimately to Churchton. Along the way, they had five children, John, Mike, Janeen, Kevin, and Cathy.
Jack and Rose also collected a multitude of friends as they went. Rose was a natural host and avid card shark. She would host bridge parties to meet the neighborhood ladies and forged many lifelong friendships. While their mother was generally considered a pioneer in the free-range parenting movement, her kids always knew when it was bridge night, as they were tasked with making the house even more presentable than usual.
The pair soon became known as Grammy and Poppy Jack and were ultimately blessed with twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren (with two more on the way). They enjoyed hosting crab feasts and family trips to Bethany Beach. As their family grew, Rosemary taught her grandchildren a thing or two about cards and quickly became the “spoons” champion at family reunions. She never lost faith in the Terps Basketball team and could be heard coaching from the couch, kindly reminding the players to keep their hands up on defense.
In their later years, the couple moved to Prince Frederick to be closer to Rose’s parents. In 2008, they moved to Churchton where Rosemary loved watching the sunrise over the Bay. She and Jack would sign their emails “LOL” which, to them, meant “Lots of Love.”
They became fixtures at St John Vianney Church. Rose was a devout catholic and she collected angels throughout her life. Jack was buried next to Rose’s parents at the church in 2010.
Rosemary was part of four generations of Kirby’s to participate in The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging conducted by the National Institute of Health, America’s longest-running scientific study of human aging.
Rose spent her final years back in Baltimore at Brightview of Towson. As with all her moves, she wasted no time making friends. Like the rest of us, the staff and residents were quickly drawn to her quiet kindness and sweet disposition. She looked forward to the weekly zoom calls with her siblings and friends across the country, where we listened to wonderful stories as they recounted their days in Oxon Hill and Scientist Cliffs. At the end, she said she was looking forward to seeing Jack and her parents and her siblings in heaven.
Rosemary’s smile could light up a room. She made a difference in the lives of so many. Her unwavering faith—in God, in family, and in the idea that everything will eventually work out—will live on in her family. We will remember her smile, her warmth, her energy, and her love for life, family and friends.
We invite you to join us and celebrate Rosemary’s life on Friday, January 13th at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Prince Frederick, MD. Visitation with the family will be at 10:00 am and the funeral will follow at 11:00. Reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Lt. Thomas Joseph Hill Foundation, c/o UHY Advisors, 705 York Road, Towson, MD 21204.
Friday, January 13, 2023