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Rose Marie Rockenbach

1938 - 2009, Santa Barbara

Rose Marie Rockenbach died peacefully on April 1st, 2009, after an extended battle with insomnia. Her unexpected passing brought to an end her continuous and heroic struggle for health and sleep.

Rose Marie was born July 2, 1938 in Illinois and was the oldest of four children. She worked her way through high school and college, graduating with a Bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and numerous other honor societies.

Upon graduation from college, Rose Marie chose a profession of service by teaching high school for a number of years in Illinois. After a sabbatical of several years to give birth to and care for her two children, Rose Marie returned to teaching, educating a generation of students at Bishop Garcia Diego High School in Santa Barbara, CA. She eventually took responsibilities in administration in addition to her teaching duties, achieving the position of Vice Principal. In 1983 she accepted a job with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department as the Administrative Services Officer, the highest ranking civilian position in the organization.

After retiring in 1995, Rose Marie pursued her interest in music, playing the piano and being a supporter and enthusiast of the Music Academy of the West. A breast cancer survivor, she took up running and surprised her family and friends with her speed and love of the sport. She was a regular participant at the Orange County Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and ran in the race in numerous other cities, including the 10th anniversary race in Washington D.C. She was a Grand Prix Champion in her age group in the Santa Barbara Athletic Association in 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005. She was nationally ranked through USA Track and Field in the 5K in 2003 and 2005. She was a fierce competitor and was known by name at running events throughout the Santa Barbara area.

Rose Marie is survived by her daughter, Heidi Rose Rockenbach, and her son Richard Whitney Rockenbach II. Heidi is a Captain with the Santa Barbara City Fire Department and Richard is an active duty Major in the United States Air Force serving as an attorney in the Judge Advocate General Corps. While devastated by their loss, Heidi and Richard are comforted by the endless of love and affection they received from their mom. Her generosity and outstanding character affected many but no one more than her children. Their memories of her love and courage will continue to give them strength and comfort through the rest of their lives. Rose Marie had two grandchildren by her son, Katherine and Richard III. Rose Marie is also survived by non-local family members too numerous to mention who are shocked and saddened by this loss.

All who loved her wish her the peace and serenity that so often eluded her, and that she so deserves.

Rose Marie requested a private cremation and that that no memorial services or funeral be held in her memory. Heidi and Richard are honoring her wishes. Anecdotes, comments, stories, and sympathies can be e-mailed to RoseMarieMemorial@gmail.com or mailed to 11 Baker Lane, Goleta CA. 93117. Donations in her memory can be made to the Rose Marie Rockenbach Memorial Fund at any branch of Santa Barbara Bank and Trust. The decision for how to best memorialize Rose Marie's life is still being considered.

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