Rose Marie Ver Elst

July 13, 1947July 19, 2018
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Rose Marie Ver Est grew up with parents Frans and Simone, and her two sisters, Marielle and Emmy, on the outskirts of Brussels, Belgium. She spoke fluent French and Dutch, the official languages of Belgium, and became fluent in English later in life. Languages came easy for her because she studied both Latin and Greek for many years.

The street she grew up on was next to a very large beech forest, the Forêt de Soignes, where she spent much of her time playing with friends. She also loved playing ping pong or marbles (she was actually the street champion) until very late in the summer evenings.

Rose was a competitive athlete throughout most her life and was on the Belgian Junior National Basketball Team as a teenager. Her athletic nature was inherited and encouraged from her father who was a basketball coach for many years. She later enjoyed winning many tennis matches and also loved physical activities such as windsurfing, hiking, boating, swimming, biking, and gardening among others. Of course she was always up for challenging friends to a ping pong match in the basement of her home (and did most of the winning)!

She attended medical school at the University of Brussels Faculty of Medicine, from 1967 until 1974. There, in 1969, she met her future husband David Gens, who was also a medical student. They had so much fun together and with their best friends, Francoise Massa and José Sadis, exploring the Belgian seacoast, château country in France, and wining and dining all over the country.

After graduating from medical school, she did a brief internship south of Brussels in Obstetrics and Gynecology, followed by another internship in Flushing Meadows, New York. This was the beginning of her love for the United States. (In 2003 Rose proudly became a citizen of The United States). In 1976 she obtained a second year residency spot in Ob/Gyn at the University of Maryland, and finished in 1979. Most importantly, she trained the physician (Edward Morris) who would later deliver her two children. David had just taken a residency at the George Washington University Hospital in DC, so they decided to stay in the area. They established many long lasting friendships in residency, especially Brad and Debbie Levin and with the Morris Family.

In 1977 Rose and David got married in David’s parents’ beautiful backyard flower garden, in New Canaan, Connecticut. Rose’s family attended from Belgium and because Rose’s father had passed away just a year earlier, David’s father escorted Rose down the “aisle” of the garden. Many friends from medical school, residency, and Belgium attended the ceremony. This September Rose and David were to celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary. Rose always said "plus 7" for the extra number of years they were together in love.

She joined a group practice in Silver Spring, Maryland for three years, then started out on her own in Annapolis, Maryland, in solo practice. She delivered thousands of babies, and was in practice for so long that she eventually delivered the babies of those babies! She had a hard time going into town without someone coming up to her with a child that she had delivered. She had a wonderful office staff, run by her close friend Alicia White. They all had great fun together in the office, dressing up on Halloween, and doing many crazy things.

Rose had two children: Ryan was born in 1982 and Jennifer in 1984. Because of Rose and David's busy schedule, Martha Azorsa was hired to help. She immediately became apart of their family and still is to this day.

Both children made Rose extremely proud throughout her life, as she mentioned frequently to David. She encouraged them to follow their passions and to be independent. She was an incredible role model and, following her example, both Ryan and Jennifer have found happiness in starting their own businesses.

Rose was an inspiration in many ways. She was an environmental advocate and volunteered at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) for several years. She also became a Certified Master Gardener and battled the invasive plants in and around Sherwood Forest. It was a goal of hers to have only native plants in The Forest and she was passionate about protecting the flourishing canopy. One day, she heard a chainsaw near the house, and tried to block the tree company from cutting down a live tree by standing in front of it; a true “tree hugger.” She was promptly escorted off the property! As you can imagine, she did not go without a fight and a few “unladylike” words.

Rose was a true warrior. On February 23rd, 2017, she suffered a spinal cord injury rendering her quadriplegic. She fought bravely for 17 months: in the ICU for two months, then rehab for two months. On June 2nd, the day of her homecoming, she was brought to tears when she saw that the whole community there to greet her as she drove up Nottingham Hill. The house had been quickly changed into “handicap mode” by her dearest friend Bert Winchester. She was overcome with gratitude by all the love and support that she continually felt throughout those 17 months. She hardly complained about her condition and was an inspiration to many.

On July 7th, 2018, Rose was able to attend the wedding of Ryan and Luci Mazzullo in Easton, Maryland. She was so determined to make it to their wedding, and looked fabulous thanks to her fashionable stylist Lisa McCarl. She had an incredible time seeing so many friends and family there and was overcome with joy. Six days later, on July 13th, she celebrated her 71st birthday with a pizza party (her favorite) on the back porch at home with family and friends.

The day before her passing, she had a wonderful afternoon on the porch, watching the birds, talking about life with friends and family, and enjoying the beautiful weather. She succumbed in the early morning of Thursday, July 19th, 2018, in the comfort of her own home.

A special thank you to the wonderful nurses from WeCare who gave such loving care to Rose, especially Patricia Lee, Sheronda (Chae) Demby, and Michele Keller. They worked with her through thick and thin: they were Rose’s angels. She loved them, and told them that. Also a thanks to the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center and the Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Institute (UMROI) for their excellent care.

There are so many people to thank, people who dropped by, people who visited consistently, people who constantly brought food that Rose liked so much (her husband and the nurses didn’t mind either; thank you Molly McDermott!). People stuck with her throughout her fight. The family wants to thank especially Bert and Debbie Winchester, and Brad and Debbie Levin for always being there for Rose.

We feel so blessed to have had this time with her, and our love for her will continue to grow. We will continually post photos of Rose's life for all to enjoy so please check periodically.

Please omit flowers as Rose was opposed to the environmental impacts of such. The family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Donate online at and click the “DONATE” button. Checks should be made out to: "SERC" with "Rose Ver Elst Memorial Fund" in the subject line and mailed to: Director of Development, SERC, 647 Contees Wharf Road, Edgewater, MD 21037.

***A memorial service in her honor will be held on July 29th, 2018, from 2pm-5pm in the Sherwood Forest Stewart Hall Clubhouse. Light refreshments of Rose's favorites will be served.

**(Please use GATE CODE: 6018)** Parking will be provided at Robin Hood Beach (FOR GPS LOCATION use "Brewer Point, Sherwood Forest, MD.") To get there, follow Sherwood Forest Road straight to the water, take a RIGHT on Beach Rd and park in the gravel parking lot with the gazebo. A shuttle service will be provided to take friends to the Clubhouse.


  • Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) go to or checks should be made out to "SERC" with "Rose Ver Elst Memorial Fund" in the subject line and mailed to:


  • Memorial Gathering Sunday, July 29, 2018

Rose Marie Ver Elst

have a memory or condolence to add?

Louise Rancourt

August 15, 2018

Dear Dr. VerElst’ s family,

I was a patient of Dr. VerElst from late 1979 or early 1980 until she retired. She was, quite simply, the BEST doctor I have ever had. I was very saddened to learn about her accident and passing.

With deepest sympathy,

Louise Rancourt
The Villages, Fl,

Joe Halpern

August 4, 2018

Fare well to a gracious and kind soul. One of the finest people in the world.

Emmy Ver Elst

August 2, 2018

A toute la famille,
Je présente toutes mes sincères condoléances.

Rose restera pour toujours dans nos cœurs et dans nos souvenirs.

Bien à vous tous.
Je vous souhaite beaucoup de courage dans cette épreuve douloureuse.

Emmy Ver Elst.

John Mathai

July 30, 2018

Dear Dave & Family,
We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Rose. Although, we did not know her well it is obvious that she was an amazing woman and you were blessed to have shared your life with her.
Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with you.

John, Sharon Mathai
York, PA

Bob O'Connor

July 28, 2018

Am so sorry to learn of the death of your wife and mother. I had
no idea of the recent difficulties that Rose had to deal with until
reading of it in the obituary. She was dealt a tough hand, and appears
to have dealt with it much better than most.

Our thoughts and prayers.
Bob O'Connor & Family

Virginia (Jenny) Delauter

July 28, 2018

David and family
My condolences on the loss of your wife and mother. Although I only spoke with her a few times over the phone when I had questions for you, David, Rose seemed like a very concerned and kind person. I know you and your family will miss and remember the good times you had.
You have been, and will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.
Fondly, Jenny

Kathryn Truter VonRueden

July 23, 2018

David, Jenn, Ryan, and Luci, We will all miss Rose so much. I found this on line, what a wonderful memory! XO truter
The New York Times
Dr. Rose Marie Ver Elst Bride of Dr. David Gens
SEPT. 11, 1977
Dr. Rose Marie Ver Elst and Dr. David Reeder Gens were married yesterday at the home of the bridegroom's parents, Dr. and Mrs. John Paul Gens, in New Canaan, Conn., by the Rev. Lee Moore of the Congregational Church of Darien.
The bride is a daughter of Mrs. Frans Marie Ver Elst of Brussels and the late Mr. Ver Elst. Her father was an inspector of the Lambert Bank of Brussels.
The bride is a resident in obstetrics at the University of Maryland Hospital in College Park. She attended the Lycee D'Ixelles in Brussels and the University of Brussels School of Medicine
Dr. Gens is a graduate of the Choate School, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Brussels School of Medicine. He is a resident in surgery at the George Washington University in Washington.

Mariella Ver Elst

July 23, 2018

Mariella Ver Elst

July 23, 2018

Mariella Ver Elst

July 22, 2018