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Rose DuPuis Clark George

Rose George loved nature

Rose George loved nature

October 19, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Rose DuPuis Clark George, who died Oct. 6 at the age of 88. Her obituary was published in the Oct. 8 edition of The Herald-Mail.

A favorite story about Rose DuPuis Clark George's fervor for nature involved an ailing plant that had been tossed into the trash at an area store.

Spotting it there, Rose persuaded store personnel to let her have it so she could take the plant home and nurse it back to health.

"Our mother didn't waste anything," said her daughter, Carole Mitchell. "She learned that early and taught us that, too."

Right up to the end of her life, Rose's windows were full of plant cuttings.

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"She would donate them to churches," said her daughter, Sandy Flowers.

Those characteristics defined Rose, who, though born in Cumberland, Md., spent her formative years on the White Cloud Indian Reservation, where she was a member of the Ioway Tribe of Kansas.

Family and friends said Rose's penchant for thriftiness and love of all things nature was nurtured on that reservation.

"She was very proud of her heritage and wanted us to be, too," Sandy said.

Rose's mother, Isabel Atkinson, was a schoolteacher in Morgan County, W.Va., when she pulled up roots in 1913 and headed west. While teaching on the White Cloud Indian Reservation in Kansas, she met Charles DuPuis, who had American Indian as well as French-Canadian roots.

"It was quite a thing in the early 1900s for a woman to not only be a college graduate, but to travel as a single woman," Rose's daughter, Lenora Montgomery, said of her grandmother.

Rose's mother married Charles and had two of her four children on the reservation.

"Our mom was born in Cumberland, but when she was a baby, she went back to the reservation to live until she was 7 or 8," Carole said.

Rose's parents had a store in the Berkeley Springs, W.Va., area for a while. Her father, who never really adjusted to life off the reservation, often would go to the square in Berkeley Springs and sing Indian songs, Carole said.

Life on the reservation was like an extended family or even more like a communal family, Lenora said.

For a time, Rose was back on the reservation being raised by aunts and uncles while her mother was living in Berkeley Springs, Carole said.

The bonds with the reservation remained strong after Rose married and had her seven children - five of them daughters who survived her. Two sons preceded Rose in death.

"We go out to the reservation occasionally for weddings, funerals and visits with the relatives we still have there," Sandy said.

In the 1980s, Rose traveled to an Omaha reservation in Nebraska for a powwow. Her daughters said Rose had a lifelong wanderlust that took her to all 48 of the states in the continental U.S. in her lifetime.

Not even injuries or a scarcity of money would thwart her, as was evidenced by a 30-day bus trip she once took despite having two broken arms.

The life lessons she learned on the reservation stayed with her well into her 80s.

"Mom would make custards and take them around to the other residents in her apartment building in Hagerstown," Lenora said.

Daughter Mary Lee Yost said she recalls putting little gifts on the doorknobs of residents who weren't home when their mother was feeling generous.

Rose was independent, strong-willed, good-hearted and liked to take care of people, her daughters agreed.

Son-in-law Stanley Mitchell said he remembers Rose's American Indian tradition of taking a gift whenever visiting and leaving with a gift.

Stanley's wife, Carole, said her mother raised all of her daughters to cater to the men in their lives - another American Indian tradition.

"Mom loved her sons-in-law," Carole said.

Rose's American Indian upbringing taught her that Indians sleep when they are sleepy and eat when they are hungry, notwithstanding what the clock says.

Saddened by the often uneasy relationship between American Indians and the white man, Rose once penned a poem entitled "Indian Reflections."

"In our native hearts, we're still brave and free. The Great Spirit is alive in you and me," she wrote.

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