Obituary for Rosemary Coulter - East Idaho News
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Rosemary Coulter

September 22nd, 1942 - June 17th, 2024

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On a beautiful fall day in Hamilton, MT, Robert and Mary Van Vorst welcomed their first daughter. It was on September 22, 1942, that our mom, Rosemary Julia, was born and joined her brother Bobby. They were a happy little family and over the next several years another brother, John and a little sister Mary joined the family. It was said that Grandpa VanVorst had a beautiful flower garden and a knack for making things grow – he passed this love of gardening on to our mom. When mom was 14 years old, her dad, Robert, unexpectedly passed away. This created some hard times for grandma and the family. A short time later grandma met George Brown – who was the only grandpa all of us kids knew.

Somewhere along the way Mom picked up the nickname Butch. We aren’t sure if the nickname was from her tomboy ways with her freckles and red hair, the beating up boys on the playground or if it was when she decided to rebel as a teenager and chopped her hair off. However she got it, it stuck with her for life. To keep up the rebellious spirit when mom was 15, she picked up her first leather jacket and her first husband.

At the age of 16, on October 24, 1958, Mom and Frank Ferguson snuck off to Salmon, ID, to get married. They made their home in Corvallis, MT, with Grandma and Grandpa Ferguson. In 1960, Mom graduated from Corvallis High School and shortly thereafter joined Frank in Washington where he was serving in the United States Army. While living in Washington they welcomed their first daughter, Coral Rose in March of 1961. They were excited when Frank’s time in the Army was up so that they could move back to Montana where both of their families lived.

While living in the Bitterroot Valley they welcomed 3 more children to their family – Angela Rose (April 1963), Roan William (May 1966) and Belinda Marie (January 1968). After 12 years of marriage, Frank and Mom divorced. Mom and the 4 kids moved to Libby, MT, to live with Grandpa and Grandma Brown.

In Libby, Mom worked hard to support her kids. She worked multiple jobs trying to make ends meet. It was at one of these places that she would meet her future husband Robert Coulter. Late in 1971, Bob was working for IBM and they sent him to Libby to work on some equipment and after meeting our mom, they fell in love and were married after a short engagement on March 11, 1972.

When Mom and Bob were married, he brought to the family a little boy named Mark Darrell (March 1961). Mom and Bob joked with people about having 2 kids, 10 days apart in 2 different states – it’s true but if you have more questions, you’ll just have to ask.

Mom didn’t want more kids but Bob told her that he loved her kids so much he wanted to have one with her but Mom said no, if they had one they had to have two. It wasn’t long after that that Dawn Marie joined the family in August 1973, followed shortly thereafter by Elizabeth Mary in March of 1975.

Bob’s work with IBM (“I’ve Been Moved” as mom used to call it) took them on lots of adventures. Shortly after they were married they moved to Somers, then Dutton, then Great Falls but the first big move was the summer of 1978 when they moved to Endicott, New York with 4 of the 7 kids. Coral and Angela stayed in Montana and Mark was living in Colorado. Over the next 10 years, Endicott was home base for the family, but Bob was always getting temporary assignments to new places so they would pack up some of the kids and move them to wherever Bob was going to be located. Mom packed up and moved at least a dozen times in that 10 year time period. She became pretty good at playing car Tetris and packing the maximum amount of stuff in a small space. While it was always an adventure for their family to move to these new places, Mom always missed the mountains.

In 1988, Mom and Bob just had Dawn and Elizabeth left at home. They sold the house in New York and made a big move back out west closer to the mountains Mom loved so much. When they made this move Roan was already in the Air Force and Belinda decided to stay in New York. But moving to Idaho didn’t really stop them from moving around, from 1988 to 2004 mom and Bob moved 8 more times before moving to their house on 8th Street.

Shortly after moving to Idaho Falls, Mom and Bob joined the Eagles Lodge. Mom really enjoyed the people and events at the Eagles. She was even a Past State Auxiliary President.

It didn’t matter where they moved, Mom always found a bowling alley and a league to join. Mom coached junior bowling for years in many different states. She loved bowling so much that in her later years when she needed to have her hips and knees replaced she scheduled surgery around the bowling season to make sure that she didn’t miss league. Mom made lots of friends in the bowling alley as she was always fun and noncompetitive.

Other than being a mom to 7 kids and all that came along with raising kids, Mom sometimes had jobs outside the home too. She worked in restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, IBM, a dry cleaner, she had a craft/collectible shop when they lived in Salmon, and Joann’s. She also had a knack

for sewing – she made wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, blankets… She taught all of us girls that when you cooked, you cooked for an army. Even when it was just Mom and Bob living alone (which was rare cause they always seemed to have a kid or grandkid living in the basement) there was always extra food just in case someone happened to stop by the house.

We keep trying to count how many grandchildren Mom has and every time we seem to come up with a different number. The oldest granddaughter is 46 and the youngest grandson is 16 – we figure there are more than 30 grandchildren and probably that many great grandchildren and even a couple great-great grandchildren. Mom loved her grandkids, like most moms, we think she liked them more than she did us kids. Which is saying something because Mom loved her kids, a lot.

We have a joke in our family about Mom and Bob collecting people. Mom loved everyone, she rarely met a person she didn’t like and once she decided you were her family that was it – you were family. While living in the house on 8th Street they met Sherri – she has been so good to Mom and Bob. They decided they were going to adopt her. Now granted Sherri is an adult, but that is how they both introduce her to everyone – this is our adopted daughter Sherri.

It wasn’t always fun and games though – in February of 2011, the baby of our family, Elizabeth, passed away. Mom was so broken-hearted over this, she was never the same again.

Mom spent most of her life taking care of other people. Her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, neighbors, friends of her kids…. She just always wanted to help. Things changed for mom in March of 2021.

On March 5, 2021, we found out Mom had Alzheimer’s and the next day we had a party celebrating Mom and Bob’s 50th Anniversary. Over the next 3 years, Mom slowly deteriorated. It was hard for Mom to go from being the person who always took care of everyone else, to being the person who needed care. She forgot how to use the stove, the washer… all of the things that we just take for granted that we just know how to do. It was hard for us kids to watch but through it all Bob took care of her. He was there with her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until the end.

On June 17, 2024, just before 1:00 a.m., our mom gained her wings and went home to Heaven. She was under the loving care of her family and Eden Hospice. We take solace in knowing that she is free from her pain and the effects of Alzheimer’s and also in knowing that she was met by those who preceded her. Mom was preceded in death by her dad Robert Van Vorst, mom Mary Brown, step-dad George Brown, brother Robert “Bobby” Van Vorst, daughter Elizabeth Cromwell and grandson Ryan Coulter. She is survived by her husband Robert “Bob” Coulter of Idaho Falls, ID, Children: Coral (Randy) Maxwell of Darby, MT, Mark (Cindy) Coulter of Indian Head, MD, Angela (Robert) Birnel of Eureka, MT, Roan (Linn) Ferguson of Idaho Falls, ID, Belinda (Tom) Jones of Elkton, MD and Dawn (Charlie) Anderson of Idaho Falls, ID, brother John (Kathy) Van Vorst of Hamilton, MT, sister Mary Van Vorst of Amherst, NY, as well as lots and lots of grandchildren, great grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. July 13, 2024, at MorningStar Senior Living of Idaho Falls, 4000 S 25th Street.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association Idaho Chapter in Rose’s memory.

Condolences can be sent to the family at

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