Rosemarie Hauch, local and international track star, commemorated

The late Rosemarie Hauch throws shot put in this photo from the North Dundas District High School 1975 yearbook.

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

DUNBAR — Friends of the late Rosemarie Hauch — an accomplished local athlete and bronze medalist at the Commonwealth Games — met late last month to commemorate her life.

Hauch, who succumbed Sept. 16 to breast cancer at the age of 58, lived much of her childhood on a farm between Sullivan’s Corners and Dunbar. Originally from Germany, her family moved to this area via Carleton Place when she was in Grade 3 and entered Maple Ridge Public School, recounted her longtime school chum and classmate Catherine Merkley.

Rosemarie Hauch is inducted into the 'Lady Vols' track team Hall of Fame in Tennessee. Facebook photo

Rosemarie Hauch is inducted into the ‘Lady Vols’ track team Hall of Fame in Tennessee, in 2009. Facebook photo

In North Dundas District High School (NDDHS), Hauch became a track star who went on to the University of Tennessee on an athletic scholarship, thanks to her prowess as a shot-putter. She won a bronze medal in that sport at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia, in 1982. A year later, she captured third at the Pan American games in Caracas, Venezuela.

The friends who attended the Nov. 26 memorial at the Ottawa home of Hauch’s sister included members of the “Dunbar Girls Broomball Team” that also benefited from her sporting talent.

Former NDDHS physical education teacher Norma Sharkey recounted Hauch’s time at the school in the mid-1970s as “a very exciting time indeed,” as she was one of four “international level female athletes” on the North Dundas roster. Along with Julie Holmes, Kathy Workman and Lori Boyce, the group was “quite an accomplishment for a small school within a small community,” Sharkey said in an email.

I had the privilege of coaching Rose and the other three young women in basketball on one of the few North Dundas teams to represent EOSSA at the OFSSA championships held in Sarnia in 1976,” Sharkey wrote.

Rosemarie Hauch is acknowledged by University of Tennessee spectators as a Hall of Fame inductee, in 2009. Facebook photo

Rosemarie Hauch is acknowledged by University of Tennessee spectators as a Hall of Fame inductee. Facebook photo

“Although Rose’s tremendous athletic ability was the factor which allowed me to get to know her, it was her resilience and positive attitude which remain as key memories for me. Even when we met last May with her illness obviously advancing, she remained wholly positive and gave me the lasting gift of her wonderful smile and gentle laughter. A remarkable young woman.”

Merkley said she reconnected with Hauch in the 1990s and met with her at NDDHS’s 50th anniversary a couple of years ago. Then, in April of this year, the Calgary resident reached out to old friends with a Facebook announcement that she was coming back to the Ottawa area for a few months — not yet telling them she had breast cancer. “I scheduled a lunch with her and also got about seven classmates together for a school reunion the Mother’s Day weekend,” Merkley said in an online chat. “She really enjoyed it and was telling me she is looking forward to our [50th] class reunion I am scheduling this year for 1967-2017.” (1967 is the year their group started school together).

The late Rosemarie Hauch poses with the NDDHS track team in this photo from the 1973 yearbook.

The late Rosemarie Hauch poses with the NDDHS track team in this photo from the 1973 yearbook.

Hauch informed her friends in May that she was suffering from the disease and had turned to alternative medicine for treatment, Merkley said.

“I spoke to her in August, and she said she hoped to be ‘right as rain’ for our [class] 50th.  So sad…. She was a lovely person and people are just shocked to hear of her passing as she was as strong as an ox in school.”

Her death was recorded by the Knoxville News Sentinel newspaper with an article acknowledging her local sports-star status and “legendary” physical strength as a member of the “Lady Vols” track team at the university. “A Volkswagen Beetle had gotten stuck in a snow bank. Rosemarie literally picked up this man’s car and put it in the middle of the street,” a teammate recounts in the article that draws the quote from a 2008 book In the Footsteps of Champions: The University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers, the First Three Decades by Lady Vol historian Debby Schriver.

Chosen All-American six times during her college years, Hauch was inducted into the Tennessee team’s hall of fame in 2009, according to the article.

Retired North Dundas teacher and coach Hugh Conlin — who has also coached for Athletics Canada —  recalled her as “one of the best athletes that I coached, for sure. She was a great athlete at high school, university and at the national level.”

Conlin recalled her winning gold in shot put at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) provincial championships as well as either silver or bronze in both discus and javelin that same year. “She did all the throws in high school.”

“She worked hard. She was so dedicated and a really wonderful person to work with.”

A “good, all-around athlete,” Hauch was tall and “a big girl, and most of it was muscle,” Conlin remembered. “She was designed to be a good thrower.”

After her athletics career, she became a medical transcriptionist, initially working in Ottawa before moving to Calgary, Merkley said.

Another local classmate of the deceased, Eleanor (aka Mickey) McMillan, delivered the following eulogy about her “Rock-Star friend.”

She has been my friend for so long, it seems like forever.  I haven’t been able to remember when Rosemarie and I first met but I think it was probably in high school.  We both were farmers’ daughters, so that was our original common bond.  We also had our “Dunbar Country Gals” (softball) but mostly broomball team.  Many cold nights were spent at the Dunbar outdoor rink working on plays.  One night we were working on deflections, and being a slow learner, I wasn’t quick enough to get the broom in front of one of her shots!  Man did I have a bruise, the size of the ball on my left thigh.  Boy could she shoot.  I knew she was a strong girl but after that I was always envious of her strength.  Getting to know her better I realized it came from beating up her brothers!!

After high school we completely lost touch.  She went off to the University of Tennessee to continue her pursuit of shot put.  Being Ontario champion was just the start:  her sports career took her to various competitions around the world including the Pan-Am Games and the World Championships.  I have no knowledge of her placement at those competitions, but I remember how elated she was when in 2009 she was inducted into the Lady Vol Hall of Fame for track & field.

Sometime after 1982 we re-connected by running into each other at, believe-it-or-not, K-mart in Blossom Park.  It was from then that we became closer friends.  She was having a very hard time adjusting to life as a regular person.  In her words “I’ve always been told what to do”, and now I’m on my own.  When you admire someone but don’t see the work involved in what they have chosen to do, an old saying comes to mind ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’.  

While trying to find her new calling in life she moved quite a few times, but always managed to make it back to the area for high school or team reunions.  Over those years with the help of technology we were able to stay in touch.  She seemed to be really happy with her transcriptionist work and didn’t lose her ability to study and try new things.  With her interest in natural and western medicine, etc.; in the last few years she became a Reiki Master.  When I learned of her cancer diagnosis I expected her to beat it; she was my heroine that never let anything get her down.

My Rose, with all the accolades you acquired from your sports career, you were always so humble.  I don’t remember every telling you how proud I was to be called one of your friends.  The way the world has been going, God needed a trainer to keep the angels in line and remind all of the people how to be humble and loving.  I will never forget what a beautiful woman you turned out to be, or how you could enter a room and with one smile light up the place.  I will also remember the love you had for life, nature and people.  

May your family forever bask in the Love and Light you exuded while you were here.


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