Rose Potter Ringstad died peacefully in her room at the Fairbanks Pioneers' Home on the afternoon of Jan. 15, 2014, with family at her side. Born Sept. 18, 1923, to Elmer and Mathilda Potter, Rose thoroughly enjoyed her early years in Stephenson, Mich.
She left home to attend Michigan State University
, but daringly decided, in 1945, to live out her brother Bud's dream to see Alaska, and transferred to UAF. After two weeks of travel by land and by sea, she arrived to seemingly bleak conditions. But she quickly made friends and fell madly in love with Alaska.
In 1945, Rosie met her "Sir Gallahad," Mark Ringstad, at a UAF basketball game. He was a local basketball star, and she was the new girl in town. His family welcomed her in, and Rose eagerly embraced happy times at their cabin on Birch Lake, the annual moose hunting excursions and innumerable camping trips into the wilderness that was Alaska. The adventure of her lifetime began.
Upon graduation, she taught one year of high school science in Palmer and coached the girl's basketball team to the state championship, a mighty achievement for a woman who had not played a day of basketball herself.
Rose and Mark were married in 1947 and went on to have nine children. Rose's life here was made complete when she was joined by her sister, Kate, who married Mark's brother, Ken; and her sister Joyce, who married Mark's basketball buddy, Tom Paskvan. Raising their large families together came naturally to the three sisters, sharing every holiday, going on outings and swapping kids for sleepovers.
Throughout the years, Mark and Rose homesteaded 160 acres off Peger Road. They moved downtown to help run the family owned Miller High Life and Pepsi Bottling Company. In 1954, they built what came to be their family home in Slaterville.
When Rose's brother died in 1959, she and Mark moved their family of five to Michigan for a year to close up the Potter family business. When asked how she had weathered all these transitions with all those kids, under such rugged conditions, she'd always reply, "I loved every minute of it."
As a stay-at-home mom, Rose fielded everything, from the basic needs of her family, to supporting school events, to the often treacherous driving lessons for each of her nine kids. Most summer days were spent at Birch Lake with cousins by the dozens, and moms flipping pancakes, washing dishes and starting the next meal. Singing around the campfire was a favorite pastime.
In her later years, Rose opened and operated her Forget-Me-Not Bed and Breakfast. It was constantly full of both new and returning guests from every corner of the world. Rose loved to entertain. She loved to be surrounded by her family and friends. She led a proud and productive life. She gave her family memories to last a lifetime.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Mark; her parents, Elmer and Tilly; her siblings, Kate (Ken), Ruth (Charlie), Celia (Al), Bud (Allanah), her mother-in-law, Sylvia Ringstad, and brothers-in-law, Tommy Paskvan and Bing (Gladys) Ringstad.
She is survived by her sister, Joyce Paskvan; her children, Beverly (Joe), Jim (Judy), Mary (Clint), Becky, Jeanne, Barb, Phil (Sue), Chris, and Celia (Paul), and her dearly beloved grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.
A funeral mass will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at Immaculate Conception Church.
Arrangements were entrusted to Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home.