VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Our parent company Nexstar’s initiative to recognize the great contributions women have made to our nation and local communities has become one tough competition, they’re all great!
They all deserve this recognition, and as we reveal our third local finalist for the Remarkable Women contest, the moral of this finalist’s story is that you never know how or when what you’re doing for others will help you.
Most people are used to seeing Rosemary Wilson in Virginia Beach City Hall. And for a strong woman like her to hold one of the coveted city council seats in Virginia’s largest city, you know there’s a remarkable story behind her journey.
“Rosemary is what every woman looks up to not because she’s in government, but because of her personal life,” said Dorothy Wood, who nominated her friend of many years.
A few other words besides remarkable that came to Wood’s mind when nominating her friend ring true as well.
“She’s always been a striver,” Wood said. “She’s always overcome. And she’s one of the people behind the whole Town Center development. She’s now working on our Wave Atlantic Park. Everything good in Virginia Beach is her.”
She is an overcomer for sure. She’s fought well-publicized battles. But there’s so much that’s happened behind the scenes that’s fueled her fight.
“I’m very honored and excited about it,” Wilson said. “It’s really thrilling to be recognized and especially to represent women. Back in 1996 I wanted to do more with my life, and I decided to run for the school board because I cared about education.”
Out of 24 candidates she won, and served 4 years. Then she was ready for a new challenge: running for city council.
As a city councilwoman she worked for six years to get a swimming program in the city to save children’s lives.
It was a personal mission of hers after being rescued by lifeguards when she nearly drowned at three years old.
She initially raised the money to pay for the two week program for 2nd graders. They’ve since received funding to provide swimsuits for children, and now five years later it’s benefited 10,000 kids. They started in four at-risk schools and now the program serves 23 schools.
Then there was her husband’s death from a rare cancer seven years ago. In five years of using her pain to crush cancer, $1.2 million has been raised for research.
And as fate would have it, no one knew how much that research to help others would help her with the next unexpected fight, for her own life.
“He said if he was alive he wanted to raise money for cancer and he wasn’t here to do that,” Wilson said. “So I felt like that became my job. This is the moment that I want to share a secret with you. Last June I found out I had cancer. In August I had surgery. I had a campaign going. In September I had surgery. In November I had surgery. I had three surgeries in four months. I’m an over-comer and I believe you make the best of everything.”
She’s just a girl from humble beginnings, now cancer free and even more passionate about helping other women embrace their power. She stresses that all ladies should get checked out regularly. She caught her breast cancer with a mammogram.
Truly, her journey has made her a fighter and a remarkable superwoman along the way.