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Rescuer mourned

November 24, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Over the eight miles between the town where Jeanette Roseberry made her first ambulance run and the place where her casket was carried out of an ambulance Tuesday, a motorcade of nearly 30 rescue vehicles flashed gold and red lights that burned brightly through the fog.

Members of fire and rescue companies from Washington County, Greencastle, Pa., Berkeley County, W.Va., Winchester, Va., and Baltimore arrived Tuesday morning at Manor Church of the Brethren in Tilghmanton from Osborne Funeral Home in Williamsport to pay their respects to the 27-year-old paramedic.

Roseberry died Thursday when the Mid-Maryland Medical Transport ambulance she was driving swerved into oncoming traffic in Howard County, Md., seriously injuring three of the ambulance's passengers.

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During his eulogy at the funeral service, Craig Hood, Roseberry's uncle, quoted from "The Dash," a poem by Linda Ellis, telling those packed into the church that Roseberry's short life is not signified by the date of her birth and by the date of her death, but by "the dash" in between.

"For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth," he said, quoting from the poem.

Hood told those who did not know Roseberry that his niece was selfless: She cared for her sister, Sarah Roseberry, who is battling cancer, and put her 4-year-old son, Jeffrey, before anything. She was a dedicated paramedic who responded to calls even if she was not working, he said.

"She felt a great deal of respect for you and your job," he said, addressing those in rescue work.

It didn't matter to Hood that not every rescue worker who attended Roseberry's funeral knew her well, he said before the service.

Eloise Healy, administrator for Williamsport Volunteer Ambulance Service, where Roseberry began her volunteer work about 10 years ago, said that the brotherhood among rescue workers knows no bounds. Hood said rescue companies from as far away as Montana called, wanting to participate in the service.

Chuck Boone, 34, of LifeStar Response Corp. based in Baltimore, said he felt it was important to drive to Washington County for Roseberry.

"It could happen to any of us, and we all have to support each other," he said.

Melissa Dittman, 28, who worked with Roseberry at Williamsport, said she was proud that so many rescue workers showed up for Roseberry's funeral.

"It lets us know that we are not alone in death," she said.

Hood said his family was overwhelmed by the support.

"If there is any comfort that can be taken from this, it is that she touched so many lives," he said.

Roseberry was modest and probably wouldn't have believed the size of her funeral, Hood said.

"She wasn't interested in glory or fame. She never asked for praise or any type of reward," he said. "This wouldn't be necessary in her mind. Her reward was always the good work that she did and that was the reward she needed."

As family and friends entered the church, a lone bagpiper, dressed in a kilt, wandered the cemetery and played in the distant fog.

Firetrucks from Boonsboro and Williamsport crossed ladders above the entrance to the cemetery, which was across the street from the church.

An American flag flew from the ladders' arch.

Roseberry's casket, covered in pink and white flowers, was carried by Williamsport Volunteer Ambulance Service members from one of the company's ambulances, which was dressed with black cloth.

At the command of members from the Montgomery County (Md.) Division of Fire and Rescue Honor Guard, more than 50 uniformed paramedics and rescue workers saluted Roseberry in rows as her casket was returned to the ambulance for its slow trip to the grave site.

A sea of uniformed rescue workers and members of the Professional Firefighters of Hagerstown Honor Guard, along with the Montgomery County honor guard, saluted Roseberry at the grave while bagpipes were played.

Roseberry's sister, Sarah Roseberry, spoke at her sister's grave, crying. She said she couldn't believe her sister was gone.

"Someday we'll all be together again," she said through tears, her voice shaky. "I don't know why God would take such a caring person."

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