For Rosmari:

A timely remembrance marks a friend’s untimely passing.

by Regina L. Burns

ow could I know that February 26, 1998, would be the last day I would have with my friend Rosmari Pleasure? We had shared laughter and food at the Memphis Arts Festival’s 1998 fine-arts-poster unveiling, admiring artist George Hunt’s amazing work over wine, cheese, and other goodies.

Five days later she was dead. Murdered. Gone.

On Monday, March 3rd, I received a phone call about 9:30 p.m. informing me she had been murdered, purportedly by her ex-boyfriend. I was speechless. For about 30 seconds.

I recovered and called WPTY-TV and asked news anchor Lynn Carthane to confirm the information. She told me that Rosmari left The Commercial Appeal, where she worked as an editorial assistant, and went home for lunch. Rosmari, 34, had been shot twice outside her Midtown home and police were looking for the suspect. Several days later, Vincent Hatch was charged with first-degree murder.

I was stabbed – emotionally – by the news of her death.

Questions and denial flooded my mind: Why would someone murder her? I had just seen her – I couldn’t believe she was dead. The litany expanded, accelerated, and zoomed out of bounds. Finally, the depth of my loss centered on a long and loud cry.

Then I got angry and decided to do something – something to keep her name and memory alive. I contacted her dad, the Rev. Mose Pleasure Jr. We discussed starting a fund to create a journalism scholarship in her memory at the University of Memphis, where she had once taken classes.

He liked the idea, and on Wednesday, two days after she was shot in the back of the head and in the knee, we opened an account at the National Bank of Commerce.

The goal of the Rosmari Pleasure Memorial Scholarship Fund is to help support a deserving student who aspires to a journalism career. Rosmari and I shared a love for writing. In 1987, we attended the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Miami, and we had jointly participated in other journalism-related activities over the years.

I now have a deeper understanding of the devastation that violence, particularly domestic abuse, brings.

“The YWCA Abused Women Services has consistently served more than 3,000 clients annually over the past four years,” Meg Jones, director of the Abused Women Services, told me. “There are many women who experience domestic violence who never report it. Those who do report it are probably just the tip of the iceberg,” she says. Victims may call her office at 725-4277.

At Rosmari’s funeral, I spoke about the scholarship, urging its support so that violence wouldn’t have the last word. So far, the fund has about $2,000 in it. Rev. Pleasure set the goal at $100,000.

Two months have passed and my grief and anger have subsided, but not the pain. I’m glad I went to the poster party; otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen her, braids in a ponytail, smiling in her quiet way.

I wrote this prayer, which has given me comfort: Dear God of eternal truth and light. I bring fresh pain over the loss of my friend, Rosmari. This is a massive job specially ordered for You. Help me to let go of the questions, the anger, and the pain – in time. Visit her family and other friends with a gentle, soothing balm. Bestow upon us your healing touch. Fill us with wisdom so that we will overflow, in time. Sleep well and goodnight, sweet Rose. God of love and peace, receive from me this prayer offered in complete surrender and trust. Thank You. Amen.

(Regina L. Burns is the founder and president of Harvest Reapers Communications, a Memphis-based public relations and consulting firm. Tax- deductible contributions to the Rosmari Pleasure Memorial Scholarship Fund – account number #294959680 – can be made at any NBC bank.)

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