Growing up in a railroad town
Rosalie Ober, nee Chase, was born November 26, 1936 in Brownville Junction, Maine., a railroad town that came into existence in 1889 when the Canadian Pacific Railway built the International Railway of Maine as part of its transcontinental railroad. Rosalie’s father, Donald Quimby Chase, was an engineer at the railroad. Her mother, Elizabeth Angeline Bemis was a school teacher in the Brownville Public School system. Since her childhood, learning was fun for Rosalie. She liked school. “I was one of those babies born just after the school cut off date, so I had an extra year which meant I was ready to go when they sent me. I really liked school.” But what started as a normal childhood took a turn when, at nine years of age, she contracted polio. “I had to be flexible, and I would get tired more easily than the rest of the kids and that embarrassed me.” Though she missed a year of school, that did not thwart her ever-inquisitive mind nor her other gifts which led her to accomplish much.
A love of learning
Since polio curbed her ability to participate in sports, she took to cheerleading, which she continued through high school. “They sort of had to take me in high school. They didn't know what else to do with me, so I just kept on cheering.” She had little use for hobbies. "I couldn't figure out what a hobby was, just something that you did occasionally." Instead she applied her formidable concentration to become an accomplished pianist and singer. After graduating high school, Rosalie went to the University of Maine. She did not have a particular career goal in mind. "I was going to college to find something that interested me and pursue it!” Her commitment to learning did not stop with an undergraduate degree. She went on to get her master's degree. Later on, in her 50s, she attended Harvard and earned a Certificate of Advanced Study. With her characteristic wry self-deprecation while referring to her achievements, she joked: “Well they're not like church, they're pretty picky in who they take. It’s a good school. They know what they're doing.”
Hearty career and family
At a party at the University of Maine, Rosalie met David Ober. He was very quiet and didn't let people know a lot about himself. I never really knew what David was doing.” He built a career with the state of Maine. Rosalie’s career was varied; she taught at a variety of schools, and with different levels of challenges and abilities. “I didn’t think I ‘d like the older ones, but it turned out that it didn't matter. They all needed to learn.” She handled a range of administration roles as well as teaching students with learning disabilities as well as gifted and talented students and managing a resource room. She also continued to play piano and sing. She and David had three children: Ann, who became a nurse; David, an aerospace engineer; and Steven, who shares his father’s love of boating and lives on Westport Island. When the children were young, the family spent summers boating. It was a big part of their lives. They went from a small boat to a 26-foot and then to a 37-foot boat. They had a camp where the kids would canoe, fish and swim. Rosalie’s parents built a camp on Ebeemee Pond, which her children and grandchildren continue to enjoy today. At one point Rosalie and David spent some years in Savannah, Georgia. While she was there, Rosalie performed with the Savannah Philharmonic.
Now, she has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren . Ann lives nearby and enjoys visiting and spending time with her mom. They share that fortunate mother/daughter relationship that includes not just family responsibility, but true affection, respect, and admiration. Lately Rosalie has noticed the piano at Gray Birch. “I’ve already checked that out. It got me thinking, if I hang around here too much, someone might suggest I play.”