Rosemarie Nixon, 94, Army nurse in World War II

Posted: April 19, 2013

ANTHONY NIXON didn't realize what a fabulous mother he had until long after he had grown up and started to think about it.

His mother, Rosemarie Nixon, wife of a prominent surgeon and mother of nine, was a paragon of old-fashioned duty and dedication.

"We took it for granted that she got up before everybody else, took out the trash, did the shopping, cooked the meals, waxed the floors, encouraged her children to be the best they could be and never complained," Anthony said.

"We didn't see anything odd or unusual about that. She was the invisible force in our family. She was totally dedicated to her family. We thought all families were like that."

Rosemarie Nixon was the all-American image of a mother, wearing an apron, holding a gravy ladle, always smiling - right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

She died April 13, her 94th birthday. She lived in University City.

"I had the best mother," Anthony said. "And she did it without any recognition."

Rosemarie, an Army nurse in the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II, was also the power behind the success of her husband, the late Dr. James E. Nixon, prominent orthopedic surgeon who treated Eagles players and ballet dancers with innovative techniques. He died in 2003.

An acknowledged genius in his field, Dr. Nixon was seriously deficient in the practical details of running his practice - paying bills, taxes, etc. That was where Rosemarie came in. She ran his office until both retired in 1993.

But in her youth, Rosemarie had adventures right out of an action novel. As an Army nurse, she treated the wounded soldiers of the legendary Merrill's Marauders in World War II.

A trained nurse, she enlisted in the Army in May 1941, and served until December 1945. She was on her way to India when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

She took it on herself to write letters home for soldiers who had lost the use of their hands.

Rosemarie, who attained the rank of second lieutenant, became disabled after a concussion caused by explosives and was treated at the Valley Forge Military Hospital when she returned to the U.S.

It was there that she met Dr. Nixon, who became a pioneer in arthroscopic surgery, team physician for the Eagles and orthopedic consultant to the Pennsylvania Ballet.

Rosemarie was born in Campbell, Ohio, to Anthony and Mary Vertucci. Her father was a steelworker in Youngstown. She studied nursing at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Youngstown, and enlisted in the Army after graduation.

As a mother, Rosemarie was a resounding success. All nine of her children graduated from college.

She seemed to have a psychic connection to them. If one of her children was in trouble or needed help, she knew it instinctively and would call to see if she could help.

Besides Anthony, she is survived by three other sons, James, Brian and Sean; five daughters, Christina, Mary and Susan Nixon, Kathleen Wiederkehr and Sheila Springer; eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Services: Were Thursday.