We celebrate the life of ROSALIE (Sowey) CORNISH SPENCE, born March 10, 1944 in Baltimore, Maryland; the first born child of the late Grace Jackson Cornish and Edward W. Cornish. Rosalie was born at Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore. At a young age Rosalie was diagnosed with nephritis which caused her to be hospitalized for some of her elementary school years. It was Rosalie's mother's wish that she not fall behind in education so she received homeschooling. Rosalie was baptized at Faith Baptist Church in East Baltimore where she and her family were members and at an early age she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
Rosalie attended Garrison Middle School and Forest Park High School. After graduating high school, Rosalie received a bachelor's degree in education at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, known then as Maryland State. It was at the University where she met her husband Robert Spence, who she forever referred to as "Dime" or "Diamond".
Rosalie started her professional career working for the Dept. of Social Services in Baltimore City. After an early retirement she pursued entrepreneurial endeavors. She imported furs from Greece and was a private furrier. She owned a snack cart in Fells point where she was known as the "Pretzel lady." She expanded that business to a stall in the Cross Street Market. later, Rosalie was a consultant and officer for the Head Start Southeast Community Organization and for a time she sold exported African wares. At the pinnacle of her business ownerships, Rosalie was the proprietor of the "Deli on Thames Street" in Fells point, at a time when minorities did not have ownership in the area.
Rosalie was a committed activist during the civil rights movement. As a leader with the Civic Interest Group (CIG) she organized many community events, civil disobedient demonstrations and marches, including organizing members to walk from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. to participate in the famous March on Washington in 1963. She was jailed many times during the civil rights movement, demonstrating "good trouble" coined by the late legislator John Lewis.
Rosalie was extremely stylish, fashion forward and sophisticated! She absolutely loved to shop and was a tend setter, not trend follower. She made a unique statement at the events she attended with the clothes and accessories she wore. She often commented that people would ask her, "were are you from?" and she loved it. Rosalie was a class act!
Rosalie Cornish Spence is preceded in death by her daughters, Kimberly and Bobbie; she leaves to cherish her memory, her loving husband of 55 years, Robert Leroy Spence; her sister, Elaine Morton; daughter, Stacie A. Spence; grandchildren, Tiffani Spence and her companion Ricky Seward, Andre (aka "Robert") Spence, Taylor Spence and Asia Gardner; brother-in-law, Edward Spence and his wife Cynthia and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, relatives and dear friends that span across the country.
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