Rosemary S. Nesbitt, 84, 08/02/2009

OSWEGO, NY – Rosemary S. Nesbitt, 84 of Oswego, passed away peacefully on Sunday Aug. 2, 2009, with her family by her side.

Mrs. Nesbitt was born on Oct. 12, 1924, in Baldwinsville, NY, to the late Matthew and Mary Louise Sinnett.

She was educated in the Baldwinsville schools as a child, and was a proud graduate of Syracuse University with a major in theater graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1947.

<p>Mrs. Rosemary Nesbitt.</p>
Mrs. Rosemary Nesbitt.

Mrs. Nesbitt was a college professor for more than 40 years, educating students at Wells College, Syracuse University, and SUNY Oswego.

In 1955, Mrs. Nesbitt married George R. Nesbitt Sr., who predeceased her in 1971.

In 1959, Mrs. Nesbitt adopted Oswego as her home, and worked tirelessly to bring to life the rich history of the Oswego area.

She was a Distinguished Teaching professor at the State University of New York at Oswego where she will be fondly remembered as an inspiring educator and as the director of the Oswego children’s theater.

She held this position for 20 years, during which time she authored 15 plays for children.

Mrs. Nesbitt’s devotion to children is also revealed in the two historical novels she wrote for children: The Great Rope and Colonel Meacham’s Giant Cheese.

In addition to her professional activities, she also was very active in civic affairs and volunteerism.

She was the founder and director of the H. Lee White Marine Museum, retiring from the directorship in 2008.

Mrs. Nesbitt served as the first and only female chairperson of the Port of Oswego Authority for 10 years.

For eight years she served as campaign chair for the United Way.

Mrs. Nesbitt spearheaded the establishment of several historical monuments in Oswego.

A monument to the women and children of the northern frontier was erected during the Bicentennial followed by a monument honoring the American war dead from the Battle of Oswego in 1814.

Mrs. Nesbitt along with a group of local visionary’s created a summer festival in 1987 called Oswegofest.

The festival grew into what is now known as Harborfest.

In 1988, she was appointed by Mayor Terry Hammill to chair the Sesquicentennial celebration to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the chartering of the city of Oswego.

One of Mrs. Nesbitt’s proudest accomplishments was a yearlong research project which secured Dr. Mary Edwards Walker a position in the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

As city historian Mrs. Nesbitt was responsible for the oversight of historic development within the city including the preservation of the Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse.

Some of Mrs. Nesbitt’s  many other accomplishments include: Women of The Year in Cultural Development (Post Standard) 1971, State University of NY’s Chancellor’s award for Excellence in teaching 1972-1973, “Citizen of The Year” Oswego Jaycees 1974, George R. Arents Pioneer medal for Achievement in Education (Syracuse University) 1975, Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge George Washington Honors Medal 1975, Oswego Zonta Woman of the Year Amelia Earhart award 1994, “Woman of Distinction” NY State Senate 2002, and many more.

Mrs. Nesbitt is also listed in: Who’s Who in America, Dictionary of American Authors, Contemporary Leaders of America, and 2000 Outstanding Women of the World.

On a personal note, Mrs. Nesbitt  took part in many adventures including, an extensive bicycle trip across Europe after World War II,  witnessing the Coronation of  Queen Elizabeth II, crossing the Atlantic on the QE II during a hurricane, treating her sister to a graduation trip to Mexico in 1950, and taking her 4 children on camping trips across the United States.

Mrs. Nesbitt is survived by her brother, John (Joan) Sinnett of Syracuse; son, George (Dianna Benson) Nesbitt; three daughters, Mary (Jonathan) Kamelhar of Pennsylvania, Anne (Lynn) Babcock and Elizabeth (Victor) Martin of Oswego; six grandchildren, Elizabeth, Brian, Alexandra, Emily, Devlin and Chloe; and many nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her sister, Patricia Flammer.

A public funeral will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in St. Mary of The Assumption Roman Catholic Church, Oswego.

There are no calling hours and internment will be private.

A public celebration of Rosemary’s life will be held Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. in Breitbeck Park.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the H. Lee White Marine Museum, West First Street Pier, Oswego; St. Mary’s Restoration Fund, 103 W. Seventh St., Oswego; or the United Way of Greater Oswego County, 1 S. First St., Fulton.

The family wishes to thank, doctors Ram, Alcasid, Duggan, Mandanas and Thotambilu and the ICU, and third floor staff of Oswego Hospital for their loving care of our mother.


  1. I will never forget Mrs. Nesbitt as my college professor at Oswego State. She really made an impression on me and helped me as a teacher for over 30 years in Fulton. Iused her books in my classroom and made many field trips to Oswegi with my classes to relive the history she made come alive. She was a wonderful person and made our world a better place for all she came in contact with in her many endeavors. She will be dearly missed.

  2. Mrs. Nesbitt was a fantastic storyteller and historian. I will never forget the Halloween events at the Fort and the wonderful ghost stories that she told. She will be greatly missed in the Oswego Community.

  3. No words are big enough.

    Rest in peace, good and faithful Servant. Your legacy surrounds us and lives on in your children, your grandchildren, and the thousands of students and neighbors whose lives you touched. I hope that many of us left behind will take the advice printed on the last page of her funeral “playbill:” to gather wild flowers on a late summer afternoon and leave them–quietly–on her grave. Mrs. Nesbitt would want us to remember, yes, but not to grieve overmuch.

  4. I still remember the children’s Halloween party at which rosemary had Every Single one of the children’s attention by the first sentence. people of oswego will definitely miss the house décor during Halloween and Christmas especially. rest in peace we wont forget you.

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