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Rosemary H. Jackson

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 08:50

May 28, 1947 - Feb. 14, 2023

Throughout her life, Rosemary Herrick Jackson “was an energetic and effervescent force for good wherever she lived,” according to obituary material provided by her family. “Her humor, her ingenuity, her boundless generosity sharing whatever she had, and her quirky individuality were compellingly attractive to people from every walk of life — all of whose interests and needs she embraced and tried to serve.”

Ms. Jackson, a graphic designer and photographer who became an ordained Episcopal priest in her 50s and opened her own retreat center, died on Feb. 14 in Newport, R.I., after a brief illness. Known as Posy, she was 75.

Born in New York City on May 28, 1947, to Richard Seymour Jackson and the former Helene Danforth Coler, she grew up in Manhattan, London, East Hampton, and Amagansett. Her grandfather John Day Jackson was the editor and publisher of The New Haven Register, and her father became president and editor of the paper. Her mother, who had a Ph.D., was an art historian and handled old master drawings in the Seiferheld Art Gallery in Manhattan. Their marriage ended in divorce.

Her family home near Devon in Amagansett “was a place of adventure,” where she and her sister, Helene, who was called Danny, “rode their ponies through the dunes and into the bay with their many friends from Devon Yacht Club.”

She attended the Brearley School in New York City and graduated from the Garrison Forest School in Garrison, Md., Bradford Junior College in Massachusetts, and from the Parsons School of Design.

Her marriages to Joseph P. Wells and Bailey Smith both ended in divorce.

In 1976, when she was 29, she founded the Museum of Holography on West 20th Street in Manhattan “to collect, preserve, interpret, and educate the public about the up-and-coming field of holography,” according to her family. When the museum closed 16 years later, its collection was donated to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ms. Jackson “had a fascinating life, filled with many adventures,” her family wrote. The last of them, before Covid, was a yearlong R.V. trip around the country visiting friends and “seeing the beauty and grandeur of America . . . with her beloved dog, Gracie.”

Ms. Jackson provided college educations for many young people from Great Exuma in the Bahamas, where she had once lived, “and continued to encourage and support them into adulthood,” according to her family. “In her kindness she saved many lives, brought hope, comfort, food, and rest.”

She “was a remarkable soul devoted to service and love,” they said, and “was a generous benefactor to many worthy organizations, usually anonymously.”

After living in the Bahamas, she moved to Austin, Tex. She earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Seminary of the Southwest in 2001 and was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 2004.

As executive director of the William Temple Center in Galveston, Tex., “she brought her deep respect for world religions to programs she created supporting the diverse, international staff of the University of Texas Medical Branch,” those who knew of her work wrote. She served as a priest in Episcopal parishes and helped to found food banks in Galveston and Hendersonville, N.C., as she had earlier in the Bahamas.

She moved to North Carolina after Texas, “looking for another life-fulfilling adventure,” and “found it on 54 acres that would soon become known as Tigg’s Pond Retreat Center. . . . She imagined what the land could be, collaborated with the land itself, and then created the amazing vision that had come to her. . . . Tigg’s Pond was her masterpiece. There, her many natural gifts — researcher, seeker, teacher, lover of life — reached their pinnacle,” friends wrote.

“She created a peaceful haven, a sacred space, that served people from all across the country. Posy’s spiritual journey, her quest to learn everything about the unknown ‘more’ that she so avidly believed in, opened doors for many others to pursue their own journeys. Everyone who met Posy benefited from the encounter. She truly touched the masses, as she quietly, humbly lived life doing God’s work.”

“She set a very high bar,” her family said, recalling her wisdom, wit, and love. “How fitting that she decided to depart on Valentine’s Day: Her heart was so full of love for the world, her generosity and kindness were a love letter written for all.”

Ms. Jackson is survived by her sister, Helene Danforth Magill of Wellington, Fla., and New Hope, Pa., her three stepchildren, J. Smith of Wyndmoor, Pa., Bee Smith of Wilmington, N.C., and Scott W. Smith of East Hampton, and by six grandchildren, Delaney Duke, Georgianna Duke, Taylor Smith, Kyle Smith, Kyra Smith, and Wyatt Smith.

A private service was held in Newport. Rather than make donations in her memory, she suggested before her death that people “provide funds to a young person needing help in their education or any homeless person needing something to eat or some money to live on. Such a private act, no matter how small, would deeply honor me, and my life.”

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