Rosamond Griggs was born on December 27, 1920 to Robert Fiske Griggs and his wife Laura Tressel Griggs.
In the winter of 1940, while studying at the University of Michigan, she met Russell Steere at a dance. Legend says that Russ went home and declared to his sister Ruth that, “I just met the woman I’m going to marry.” After they both graduated with biology degrees, Russ was drafted into the Army as part of the second world war. But he made good on his promise and did marry her.
Rosie took a bus to Tullahoma, Tennessee where he was stationed, with little more than the clothes on her back, and they were married. They moved many times during the war, and in the later years she carried around her infant daughter – often on her own, while he was overseas. Three more daughters came later.
She spent her life playing Robin Hood at her childhood home in Chevy Chase Maryland, traversing the country with her husband, backpacking in the Himalayas of Nepal, protesting at foreign embassies and American governmental buildings alike, making secret illegal trips to Cuba, and enjoying her vacation property in Virginia.
Russ passed away in 1992 from lymphoma. Rosie managed another 24 years on her own – years that were never dull. She kept herself more active in her eighties than many people are in their youth.
Her father led expeditions into the frontiers of Alaska for National Geographic, had a mountain named after him, and was chairman of the National Research Council’s Division of Biology and Agriculture. Her husband took the first ever picture of the poliovirus and was president of the Electron Microscopy Association of America.
I knew Rosamond as “Grandma”, and the picture showing her with my youngest daughter was taken this March.
Grandma passed away this morning at her home in Gaithersburg, Maryland from natural causes. She was ninety-five years old. She is survived by four daughters, ten grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren.
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