Men and women in the military who display courage, unselfishness, and actions above and beyond the expected on the battlefield are awarded medals. Yet there are non-military people in our communities who display courage and selflessness every day on the battlefield of life, who never receive awards.
But they don't mind; they are too busy living. One of those persons is 82-year-old Rosalea (pronounce Rosa-lee) V. Snow, who lives in Overland Park.
Snow, the fifth child from the Freeman family of six children (five girls and one boy), was raised on a farm in Chase County, Kan. When she was about 8, her family moved to Emporia, where she worked her way through Emporia State University, sometimes serving ice cream in a small shop for 30 cents an hour. She earned a bachelor's degree in 1951 and a master's in 1954. She made the honor roll every semester and was president of the Iota Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, Xi Phi, the Omega Literary Society, and Who's Who Among Students.
Although she excelled at mathematics, in the late 1940s and early '50s the field, including engineering, was still dominated by men. Snow settled on English as her major.
She left Emporia to teach at Rosedale Junior and Senior High School and later at Harmon High School in Kansas City, Kan. Snow was also a member of the National Educational Association and the National Council of Teachers of English, and volunteered at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
In 1989, she left teaching to marry the love of her life, Walter N. Snow. Life was sweet.
In 2008, however, only four years after Snow lost her beloved husband, calamity struck Snow in the form of uterine cancer. She derived strength from her theory that "when you are fighting a war, any war, you can't think of two things at the same time. If one thinks only of cancer, one's mental and physical skills may be encumbered and the ugly face of depression appears."
Snow put her financial affairs in order and prepared for death.
"I closed the door on that part of my life," said Snow, "and proceeded to do other things."
She survived a hysterectomy, 28 radiation treatments, and 10 rounds of chemotherapy.
With all the years she didn't expect to have, she has enjoyed filling scrapbooks with jokes she has culled from newspapers and magazines. She invites friends for lunch, and initiates picnics in parks for those who drove her to her treatments. She reads often, especially mysteries.
Snow has written plays, and is especially proud of A Necessary Murder in Lower Munching: Secrets from Edwina's Notebook, which she meticulously researched and published this year. Those are feats that any Kansas-bred, corn-fed country woman can be proud of. And best of all, she won her war against cancer—or so she thought.
In March of 2011, nodules from the original cancer were found in her lungs. Says Snow, "I am disappointed. I thought I had it licked."
Snow still has the weapons she used in 2008, and knows how to use them. She is a poster-woman for courage, strength, faith, kindness, and a positive attitude—and she is spreading the word to others.
She works out in water exercise classes three days a week; is a member of the Senior Barn Players, Playwright Circle of Greater Kansas City, New Theatre Guild, Shawnee Mission American Association of University Women (past president), and Thimble Club; and attends Village Presbyterian Church regularly.
Snow's pillars of strength are four: her children, Kim, Karmen, and Scott, and her writing.
"Without them," confesses Snow, "I couldn't have made it."
Her memoir about growing up, Under Cottonwood: Secrets from Vianna's Notebook, was published by First Books in 2002. Snow's first play, The Secret of Granny's Sideboard, received Honorable Mention from The Writer's Digest in 1994 and was chosen by the Senior Barn Players for its 1995-96 season. Her other one-act plays are Honor Thy Father, Hamstrung, Make Love, The Purloined Pearls, A Good Provider, and Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.
Snow's two-act play, Five-Card Stud, was read at The Writers Place in 2005. She shot a movie version, the profits providing scholarships awarded by AAUW. Further marketing was halted by surgery and cancer treatments.
Snow's will to live a good and productive life is phenomenal. She is an inspiration to all in her community. She is available for book signings and talks concerning her books and plays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.