Rose Marie D’Silva was born in Karachi, when it was British India, and grew up in a close-knit Goan Catholic family and community. Her father Leo Anthony de Sousa was a charismatic intellectual man, a physics professor and church organist, who became president of D.J. Sindh Govt. Science College. She was deeply affected by her mother’s untimely death when she was only seven years old and the eldest of five children, and by the turbulent years after Partition, with the city’s designation as the capital of Pakistan. She completed a Master’s degree in Chemistry, and taught in college, always feeling responsible to her brothers and sisters. A friendship forged through her father’s leadership exchange visit to the US enabled her to live with a loving family during her graduate work at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Rose Marie completed a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, alongside her fellow graduate student in the same lab, Themistocles (Tim) D’Silva. She did post-doctoral research at the University of Rochester before they married in 1965, and began their family near Worcester, Massachusetts. Soon they moved to South Charleston, WV, for Tim’s first job as a research chemist, where they raised four children, and where she taught organic chemistry in evening classes at what was then Morris Harvey College. She was known as a tough but fair teacher, dedicated to making sure her students understood concepts. In 1981 the family moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Rose Marie joined the Duke University Chemistry Department, and worked as the undergraduate laboratory manager there, running the chemistry and organic chemistry labs, directing graduate teaching assistants and advising students for 20 years.
Rose Marie was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She encouraged a broad and excellent education in academics and especially in music, supporting her children’s and grandchildren’s many activities and travels, and taking tremendous pride and vicarious pleasure in their accomplishments. She was an energetic, outgoing, organized, amazingly resourceful woman, with many talents and interests: an avid reader, fantastic baker, and excellent seamstress. She is remembered for her generosity to others and the warmth of her hospitality, as well as the strength of her opinions and her unapologetic defense of her principles.
Rose Marie and Tim were a tremendous example of marriage for nearly 54 years. In retirement they were fortunate to travel extensively to many countries and historic sites; Rose Marie loved to research and plan their trips, and relished their many visits to far-flung family and friends. She was an active member of the Newman Center Parish, volunteering in many capacities. She formed friendships easily, and made great efforts to keep in touch with people from every phase of her long life, notably showing special concern for older relatives and friends. Rose Marie died peacefully, surrounded by family, shortly after injuries sustained in a sudden collapse, while walking with her husband in her usual state of good health.
In addition to her loving husband Tim, Rose Marie is survived by her four children, Marisa D’Silva Whitesell (Chapel Hill), Karena D’Silva (NYC and Chapel Hill), Carl D’Silva (fiancée Joni Jacobsen, Chicago) and Marc D’Silva (wife Chinar, Cambodia), and five grandchildren, Blaise, Romy and Carmen Whitesell, and Caia and Eva D’Silva, as well as two brothers, Terence de Sousa (California) and Bernard de Sousa (England), two sisters, Margaret Van Milder (Virginia) and Joan Davies (England), and many nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be concelebrated by Fr. Bill Robinson, OFM Conv. and Rev. Msgr. John Wall, on Monday, July 1, 2019 at 1pm at the Newman Catholic Student Center Parish, 218 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC.
In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to Catholic Charities, 2050 Ballenger Ave Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314, www.catholiccharitiesusa.org, Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21297-0303, www.crs.org, or to a charity of your choice.
The D'Silva family is under the care of Walker's Funeral Home of Chapel Hill. Please express your online condolences by using the tab below.