DULUTH – Just a handful of family members were able to say goodbye to Rosemary Stratioti at a quiet graveside ceremony on July 2. In normal times, there would have been 400 people gathered to celebrate her 89 years.

“Everybody knew Rosie,” said her daughter, Deb Stratioti-Mainella. “We couldn’t go anywhere without people knowing her.”

Stratioti, of Duluth, died on June 29 of COVID-19.

She was perhaps best known for starting and for more than 50 years organizing the West Duluth Memorial Day parade. Stratioti was a tireless advocate for veterans; her father fought in World War I and her husband fought in World War II.

“To me, to see those soldiers marching, the active military is the most beautiful thing that I ever saw, and thank God they are here,” she told the Duluth News Tribune in 2010.

She was twice president of the American Legion Post 71 Auxiliary. She led efforts to replace a monument at Oneota Cemetery honoring veterans.

“Everyone who knew my mom knew what she represented,” Stratioti-Mainella said.

She was also president of the Duluth Dukes baseball team’s fan club and a vocal supporter, to put it one way.

“If you ever wanted to be embarrassed, go to a sporting event with her,” her daughter said. “She would harass the umpires and players, and from right behind home plate.”

It was another way she carried on her family’s legacies. Her father helped build Wade Stadium, where the Dukes played and the Huskies now play.

Rosemary Ann Tuzinski was born Dec. 26, 1930, in Duluth to Anna and Leo Tuzinski. She graduated from Denfeld High School in 1948 and married Joseph Stratioti in 1954.

She was never shy about her opinions or slow to take the lead or lend a hand. When she moved to Benedictine Health Center several years ago, she became known as “mayor of the third floor.”

As family gathered at Oneota Cemetery where she now rests beside her husband, who died in 1986, two bald eagles flew overhead.

“The first was my dad and she followed him,” Stratioti-Mainella said.

Stratioti is survived by sons Jeffrey and Christopher of Duluth and Mark of Ewing, Ky., and daughters Stratioti-Mainella of Duluth and Michelle Cosgriff of Mora. She is also survived by her sister, Barbara Tuzinski of Aurora, Colo., 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

The family hopes a large celebration of life can be held when the pandemic subsides.