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Rosemary E. Rathbun (1941-2024)

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Rosemary E. Rathbun, 82, passed away Jan. 10, 2024, in Ellsworth, Kan. This wonderful woman came into the world on Aug. 17, 1941, to Benjamin and Margaret (Schroeder) Urbanek. Being the firstborn, she learned a lot of life skills wrangling five brothers and two little sisters. She attended Liberty, a one-room schoolhouse near the Lincoln family farm, from first to eighth grade, then transferred to Ellsworth High School, graduating in 1959. After high school, she took floral design classes in Colorado and worked at her aunt Goldie and uncle George Jelinek’s flower shop in Ellsworth.

Her single days ended when she met Tom Rathbun. They married on Dec. 27, 1961, and had five children. The couple lived on a farm south of Ellsworth.

Rosemary always had a little something extra, and showed it when she started entering tractor pulling contests. Rosemary and her White tractor were a force to be reckoned with from 1977-1979.
In 1983, she became a single mom and moved to Colby, Kan., to pursue a career in nursing. She took this challenge head-on and earned her nursing degree. She worked at the Ellsworth and Lincoln hospitals for many years. People would often share stories of the wonderful kindness and care patients and loved ones received from nurse Rosemary. She was a lifetime member of St. Bernard Catholic Church, Ellsworth.

Rosemary was preceded in death by her parents and brothers James, Joseph, Donald, David and Gary Urbanek. She is survived by her sisters, Theresa (Les) Richards and Valerie (Gail) Urbanek; children Marilee Nily, Louisville, Ken.; Corinne Dible, Salina, Kan.; Sherri (Dennis) Yoder, Spring Valley, Minn.; Sheldon (Brenda) Rathbun, Ellsworth; and Lawanda (Dave) Woods, Ellsworth; 12 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; as well as extended family and friends.

A memorial Mass service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, at St. Bernard Catholic Church, Ellsworth.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Good Samaritan Society of Ellsworth c/o Parsons Funeral Home, P.O. Box 45, Ellsworth, KS 67439. Condolences may be left at