Rosemary was born on October 25, 1941, in Stafford, UK,
the daughter of Barbara and David Duff. She graduated from Stafford High School in 1960, the University of Liverpool’s I.M. Marsh College of Physical Education in 1963, and Texas Tech University’s graduate interdisciplinary landscape architecture program in 1996.
She married the love of her life, Martin J. Harms, at Castle Church in Stafford in May 1963. Rosemary and Martin recently celebrated 60 years of marriage and their love for one another. Their lifetime together spanned across multiple countries and states and through their shared passion for travel, exploration, and design.
Rosemary started her career as a high school education teacher in Cambridge, UK. In 1973, Rosemary and Martin moved with their beloved daughter, Rachel, to Ithaca NY, where Martin taught architecture at Cornell University. For Rosemary, the move opened a whole new world of opportunity to pursue her creative gifts as a dance choreographer and festival producer by founding the Kaleidoscope Children’s Dance Center and organizing the Ithaca Arts Festival. Her love for gardening also first blossomed in Ithaca, where she created wonderful outdoor landscapes that complemented Martin’s architectural designs. Rosemary’s passions found further expression during subsequent moves to Raleigh, NC, where she served as the student affairs director of the American Dance Festival, and to Philadelphia, PA, where she worked as alumni director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and director of The Tree House, a children’s creative expression exploration center at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Rosemary’s life-long interest in the natural environment was further stimulated by moving to Lubbock, TX in the 1990s. There, she conceived and planted her own semi-desert garden at a new home designed by Martin. In parallel, she accomplished a graduate degree dissertation focused on a section of the western desert eco system of Big Bend National Park. During the couple’s next stop, Rosemary had a notable impact on California Central Coast’s spectacular natural beauty as the first executive director of the fledgling San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden.
Finally, coming back home to the upstate New York Finger Lakes region in 2018 to be close to her daughter’s family in Skaneateles, Rosemary collaborated with Martin in renovating their 1930s cottage home. The design and installation of its south-east facing garden was her crowning achievement.
Rosemary is survived by her beloved family; husband Martin, daughter Rachel (Steve Datz), granddaughter Lily Datz, sister Catherine Bhageerutty (Robin), and extended UK family.
Calling hours will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Monday, October 30, 2023, at Robert D. Gray Funeral Home in Skaneateles.
A celebration of Rosemary’s life will take place in the
spring of 2024 as her garden comes back into bloom.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Finger Lakes Land Trust.
Rosemary and her family will be forever grateful for the three wonderful caretakers who ensured that she was comfortable and at peace in her own home throughout the last stage of her rich and varied life.
To send condolences, visit: robertdgrayfuneralhome.com.