Sister Rosemary Mayer

Sister Rosemary Mayer (August 6, 2014)

When Sister Rosemary Mayer and Sister Rosemary Lorenzen met 27 years ago, they were fast friends.

At the time, Mayer was already living in Orlando. She worked in the finance department at the BETA Center and was a member of the Good Shepherd Catholic Parish. Lorenzen had just moved to the area to help care for her aging parents.

Their friendship only got stronger over the years as the two grew closer and eventually became next door neighbors. At church, they were known as "the two Rosemarys."

"We did a lot of things together, simple things like movies and church but she was also very good to me when my parents died," Lorenzen said. "We supported one another in the good times and the bad."

That was until Mayer's death on Monday. She was 85.

Mayer died after spending a week on life support at the Orlando Regional Medical Center after a car crash near the intersection of Goldenrod Road and Valencia College Lane on July 28.

Mayer had just left a church service and was headed to Florida Hospital East to deliver communion to the sick patients when she crashed, Lorenzen said.

Mayer and Lorenzen were so close that when a church leader announced that "Sister Rosemary" had been in a car accident, the first question was "the tall one or the short one," Lorenzen said.

"She was the little one because she only came up to my shoulder," said Lorenzen, who is only about 5-feet 5-inches. "She was tiny but her heart was bigger than she was little.

"The last time she was measured she was less than 5 feet. After two knee replacements and a hip replacement, I used to tease and say she was shrinking."

Mayer, who was born in Chicago, joined the congregation of the Servants of Mary in Ladysmith, Wis. in 1954 and professed her first vows two years later. When she joined the congregation, she had a background in business and finance and worked for several years as the convent treasurer, according to Sister Theresa Sandok who is also a member of the Servants of Mary.

Mayer remained there until she moved to Florida in 1984 to work at the BETA Center, which serves pregnant young women. Although her main job there was in the finance department, she loved to spend time with the newborns in their care and assist staffers any way she could.

She had no family in Florida and Lorenzen, who came from a small family, had only one blood relative in the state after her parents' deaths. The two Rosemarys were like family.

Mayer retired from the BETA Center in 2003 and spent most of her time volunteering with the Good Shepherd Catholic Parish where she was the leader of an elderly social group called the OWLS or the Older, Wiser, Livelier Seniors.

According to Lorenzen, the group would meet twice a month for spirited games of bingo. And after the prayer and greetings at the beginning of each meeting, Mayer was always prepared with a "corny" joke.

Mayer is survived by her three brothers William, Peter and Joseph Mayer along with several nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations in her honor may be made to Good Shepherd Catholic Parish, BETA House or Shepherd's House in Orlando or the Servants of Mary in Wisconsin.

dstennett@tribune.com or 407-420-5447407-420-5447