Rosemary (Varney) Reno passed away peacefully at Spirit Mountain Hospice House, in Cody, on Feb. 24, 2021. She was 87.
She was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on Jan. 15, 1934, to James Cullen and Mary Melba (Harlow) Varney. Nineteen months later the family added her sister, Barbara. Their father deserted them shortly after Barbara’s birth, so they spent several years traveling up and down the East Coast in a tiny camper trailer, following the Orpheum and Vaudeville circuits, where her mother worked as an entertainer to support their little family. Their maternal grandmother, Olive, joined them, and she cared for the girls during the years that their mother worked on the road.
When Rosemary and Barbara started school, they settled in their mother’s hometown of Oklahoma City, and their grandmother continued to care for them while their mother worked and traveled. Eventually, their mother remarried, and she and their stepfather settled in Mexico City, where he was a buyer for an American department store. The girls and their grandmother spent their summers visiting Mexico City and traveling in southern Mexico. This left Rosemary with a lifelong love of Mexico and its culture.
When Rosemary and Barbara were 13 and 14, respectively, their mother moved to Northern California and transferred them to the Monterey Bay Academy to complete their education. But eventually, she encouraged the girls to leave school and got them both jobs in civil service on a local military base. By the time they were 15 and 16, they were living on their own. Rosemary learned early to be self-supporting, and she was an independent, hard-working woman her entire life.
Rosemary met Chester Reno in 1956, and they were married the same year. In 1959 they welcomed their only child, Denyce. The marriage ended in divorce, and in 1963 Rosemary married John Wilson. They welcomed Todd, their only child in 1964. Afterward, they moved to Japan for John’s job in 1966.
Upon returning to the United States, Rosemary found herself the single mother of two small children. She went back to Oklahoma and continued to work in civil service for several years.
Her grandmother, Olive, took care of her children while she worked. After Olive’s death in 1969, Barbara, her sister, convinced Rosemary to move to California to be near their family.
Rosemary settled in Glendale, a few blocks from her sister, and she eventually began to work for United Western Studios. She loved working there, and she was able to rub elbows with people like Bing Crosby, The Beach Boys, Tab Hunter, and many others. She was invited to attend the Academy Awards, and got to walk the red carpet twice.
During those years Rosemary traveled all over the world with her sister and their friends. They loved cruises, and cruised Alaska, the Mediterranean, the Panama Canal, and many other places. She was very adventurous, and could boast of traveling in planes, trains, blimps, gliders, bi- planes, hot air balloons, and ships. Rosemary took after her mother in her love of travel, and her vast social life. Everywhere she went, she made friends. She had a wicked sense of humor, and she loved practical jokes.
In the early 1980s, Rosemary moved to Ramona, a tiny town in the mountains of San Diego. She sold timeshares there for several years, until she was offered a job selling timeshares in Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico. It was a dream come true. She had always wanted to live in Mexico, and she jumped at the chance. She bought a beautiful home on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean, and lived there for over 25 years. The whole family enjoyed the house in Mexico, and Rosemary sold real estate for the local resorts for many years.
While living in Mexico, Rosemary met Don Williamson, and they married in 1989. They remained happily married until Don passed away in 2002. Rosemary remained at the house in Mexico until 2004, when she relocated to Wyoming to be near her daughter and her grandchildren, after losing her sister and mother.
In 2015, Rosemary’s long-lost siblings were located by her daughter. She had known since the 1950s that her absentee father had another family, but did not know how to locate them.
Thanks to modern technology, they were finally found, and she was overjoyed to have a sister, two brothers, and numerous nieces and nephews. They instantly became dearly loved members of her family.
Rosemary was an avid traveler, a fabulous cook, a hard worker, and a philanthropist. She volunteered with several service organizations in Powell, including the Eagles, Red Hats, and the Rotary. She was a long-time board member for the Cody Community Concert Association and the Park County Council for the Arts. She also served for several years on the board of directors for the Powell Senior Center, and successfully spearheaded their fundraising efforts for the past couple of years.
She is survived by her daughter, Denyce (Ed) Reno-Ferguson, of Powell; her son Todd (Kathy) Wilson, of Maricopa, Arizona; her brothers, Robert (Pearl) Richey, of Running Springs, California, and James (Mary) Richey, of San Pedro, California; her sister, Davella (Rudy) Urquides, of San Pedro, California; her granddaughters, Alyxandra (Trevor) Georgius, of Powell, and Rachyl (Jordan) Soloai, of Spirit Lake, Iowa; her great-grandchildren, Kyson and Elena Soloai; and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved sister and brother-in-law, Barbara and Bill Holderness, her husband, Don Williamson, and her great-granddaughter, Maison Kinslee Georgius.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, March 4, 2021, at 10:30 a.m., at The Commons in Powell. Viewing will take place from 10 - 10:30 a.m. The service will be followed by burial at Crown Hill Cemetery, and brunch at The Commons.
At Rosemary’s request, memorial donations should be directed to Spirit Mountain Hospice House, 808 Canyon View Ave., Cody, Wyoming, 82414. Arrangements are being handled by Bryant Funeral Home.