Valley Hills Funeral Home
Rosemary Menzia Rief passed away November 26, 2019 at the Blossom Place with her husband by her side. She was a bright light to those who knew her and touched many lives in her 79 years. She was most known for her generous spirit, kind heart, keen sense of humor, commitment to social justice, love of her family and loyalty to Gonzaga University.
Rosemary was born January 11, 1940 in Prosser, Washington to Conrad and Frances Menzia. She was number 15 of 17 children. The importance of family was instilled in her at a very young age and remained until her death.
Some of Rosemary’s closest friends were those she grew up with in Prosser. She always looked forward to reunions. Catching up with childhood friends in between reunions was a priority to her, as they met to plan the next reunion.
Mom had such fun growing up on her side of the tracks in a small town. She had many childhood playmates and fond memories of ringing church bells, singing in the choir, going to Catechism, playing at the boat dock, railroad tracks, potato warehouse, Prosser Packers, Legion swimming pool, Prengrubers store, cherry picking, mowing lawns, canning fruit and cleaning house.
Rosemary reminisced about the new Junior High building way up on the Heights. She loved ball games, dances, first boy-girl parties, cheer leading and school government. During high school she took a secretarial course because she knew she would have to hang around Prosser and work until she was 21. She worked part time for Dr. Lemon as a dental assistant and as a program clerk for the USDA after graduation. She worked two other jobs to save money for college.
In January of 1961, she left home. Before starting in the middle of the school year , she took a trip by herself to New York City. She then started her freshman year at 21 years old. She loved Gonzaga from the very beginning. Mom worked many jobs during her time at Gonzaga to pay her own way. She was a prefect in the dorms and was active in student government.
After graduating from Gonzaga in 1964 she took a teaching job in Sacramento CA at Encina High School. She then returned to Gonzaga to pursue her Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling, while courting Cy Rief. She had been introduced to him four years earlier. Cy was then teaching at the Job Corps Center in White Swan. On their first date in August of 1966, Cy proposed. They were married a year later in Prosser, WA.
Rosemary and Cy made their home in Yakima, worked together at Davis High School, started a family and bought their first home. She resigned from counseling to raise children when their first was born in 1970. She was involved in pre-school co-ops, church, Camp Fire, PTA, classroom volunteering, Indian Guides, day camps, Backyard Center and piano lessons. Mom reflected on those early parenting years as the most rewarding and fulfilling as they added such wonderful dimension to their marriage.
She consulted, counseled and taught for many years as the children grew up. She kept very busy teaching part time for YVCC in the Women’s Program, Yakima School District, Family Life Director, the Upstairs School and also doing workshops for private agencies.
In Rosemary’s later years she loved traveling through Washington and Oregon with Cy, visiting libraries as World Book’s Manager for the Western Region. She was Northwest Harvest’s Community Relations Director for many years and had such a knack for building relationships and spending her time devoted to social justice. She was committed to helping people and connecting them to resources that would make their lives better. She always looked forward to the KNDO Food Drive and the annual Turkey Bowl.
Rosemary loved the Jesuit Volunteer Corp. She spent many hours writing and delivering invitations for the monthly MICAH potlucks. She supported the young Jesuit volunteers in our community and created valued friendships through the years.
Mom quite possibly was Gonzaga University’s biggest fan. She was incredibly grateful for the Jesuit education she received and always jumped on the opportunity to share that with others. She appreciated the values the Jesuits taught and helped so many people to become a Gonzaga student or at least a supporter. She would spend many lively nights at Jack-Son’s Sports Bar adorned with a homemade Gonzaga sign around her neck. She would always greet everyone with a warm smile and and always made others feel welcome.
Her go-to line was “Where did you go to high school?” She quickly made you feel important and valued. Her Catholic faith was the foundation of all she did and was reflected in the way she loved and cared for her family and friends. She loved our dad and set an example of commitment, faithfulness, unconditional love and forgiveness. Of all the titles and awards she obtained her most precious accomplishment was being a Grandma. The best gift our children could receive was being loved by Grandma Ro.
Rosemary is survived by her husband of 52 years, Cy, her four children, Jennifer Monteleone (Jeff),Joe Rief (Trisha), Anna Rief (Jerry) and Rachel Suhm (Tyler). She is also survived by her siblings Frances Hardgrove, Jack Menzia, Theresa Sthurman and Joe Menzia. Her grandchildren include Shara, Lynze, Anthony, Dominic, Jade, Erica, Katie, Ellie, Lucas and great-granddaughter Emma.
We will always be grateful for the kind caregivers in the past nine months, who have gently and lovingly cared for Rosemary (and Cy). We especially appreciate the staff at Memorial Hospital, Hospice and the Blossom Place, such a compassionate and professional group of people. Your love and attention have been a blessing during this time.
Visitation has been scheduled for Friday December 6, 2019 from 12 to 5pm at Valley Hills Funeral Home Yakima Chapel (2600 Business Ln. Yakima WA 98901). Vigil Services will take place Sunday the 8th of December at 5:30pm at St Paul Cathedral’s Chapel (15 S. 12th Ave. Yakima 98902) Mass of Christian Burial will take place Monday the 9th of December at 10:00am at St. Paul Cathedral with a reception to follow immediately at Holy Family’s Gathering Hall (5315 Tieton Dr. Yakima 98908) Rosemary’s final resting place will be Calvary Cemetery in Yakima. Please visit www.ValleyHillsfh.com to share a memory or condolence with the family.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Jesuit Volunteer Corp. Northwest, Germans from Russia or Northwest Harvest in Rosemary’s memory.