May 22, 1920 – November 19, 2019
EAST SANDWICH - Rosanna (White) Cullity, passed away November 19, 2019 at Harbor Point in Centerville. She was born May 22, 1920 in her family farmhouse, the former Cedarville schoolhouse circa 1846. She was the only daughter of Samuel Dexter White and Anna Nye Armstrong. Rosanna is survived by sons W. Daniel Cullity, Jr. and wife Diana, John Nye Cullity and wife Lynn of East Sandwich and Brian Cullity of Sagamore, 10 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren and ex-daughter in law Linda Cullity. She was predeceased by brothers Robert L. and John D. White, her husband Walter D. Cullity (married 1942), her daughters-in-law Melissa (Clark) Cullity and Nancy (Lewis) Cullity. Rosanna was close to her nephews Samuel D. White and wife Debra and Robert L. White, friend Ann Signorelli, Lois Howland (deceased 2010) and her childhood friend Jackie (Snow) Staples (deceased May 2019). She had many other friends and acquaintances.
Rosanna graduated from Sandwich High School in 1939. Rosanna served on the board of trustees and as curator of the Benjamin Nye Homestead & Museum from 1960 to February 2019. Rosanna also served on the boards of the Sandwich Glass Museum and the Thornton Burgess Society.
A celebration of Rosanna’s life will be held May 2, 2020 at the East Sandwich Grange Hall. Donations in memory can be made to: Nye Family of America Association Inc. or the Friends of Sandwich Town Archives.
Rosanna led a full and rich life. Despite losing her mother at age 10, Rosanna enjoyed a childhood with friends and adventures. One of her favorite games was playing house with her best friend Jackie (Snow) Staples. This passion was a precursor to the later work she did as curator at the Nye House. “Sis” as she was called by her brothers Bob and Jack White cooked, kept house, canned vegetables as well as learned to target shoot with a 22. Rosanna’s artistic talents extended to painting, sewing, knitting, rug hooking and braiding. She learned to make jewelry from Helen Blake French.
Rosanna traveled throughout New England, to Ireland and to the jungles of Guyana (in her mid-80’s!) She witnessed the Challenger disaster in 1986. In 2006 Rosanna was the first recipient of the Leo F. Manning award for outstanding volunteerism in the town of Sandwich. She was a direct descendant of Benjamin Nye and Katherine Tupper, one of the earliest families to settle in East Sandwich.
Her three sons were influenced by her interest in history, antiques, old houses and furnishings. Dan became an antique gun restorer and collector, Brian became an antiques dealer and John became a local historian. Rosanna was instrumental in saving and restoring a 17th century dwelling built by her ancestors that became the Old Time Shop, a 1789 three quarter Cape house as well as the Benjamin Nye Homestead. Rosanna and Walter were antique dealers and collectors with a wide range of interests. One of her greatest accomplishments was the role she had in reviving the Nye Family Association in 1959 in order to obtain stewardship of the historic Nye house. Rosanna had a leading role in the restoration and furnishing of the Benjamin Nye Homestead & Museum that opened to the public in 1972. In 1987 Rosanna and John co-authored The Sandwich Album, a collection with commentary of historic photos of the town of Sandwich published by the Nye Family Association.
Rosanna remained young at heart for her entire 99+ years. She was a familiar figure in town driving her old SUV with her little white dog riding shotgun. The local antique collectors and flea market vendors sought her expertise, especially for early American items. The Old Time Shop that Rosanna and Walter operated for 36 years at Route 6A was a favorite stop for many. Rosanna continued the tradition by operating a tiny shop at her home on Cedarville Road up until spring 2019. Visitors were treated to a glimpse of rural Cape Cod and she enjoyed showing people her home which she carefully furnished to reflect a 1920s farmhouse. Rosanna kept active and in 1987 she and Jackie Staples systematically walked every single road in the town of Sandwich.
She loved to drive and the freedom of independence. Her first car was a 1936 Plymouth but she said her favorite was the last car she drove up to May 2019; a 1999 Toyota RAV. Rosanna also enjoyed observing her surroundings as a passenger, and would relay stories of past places, colorful people and events. It was entertaining to go places with her. Rosanna always had a camera in her purse ready pull out.
She was an avid reader with her favorite topics about “hard scrabble life”, biography, history and an occasional romance novel. She liked to research health and diet, dedicating her later years to maintaining a healthy regime. Rosanna embraced alternative medicine and natural remedies.
Rosanna loved nature, all animals and her garden. She kept chickens for many years. In addition to her three sons she raised dogs, cats, a red squirrel, pet crow, woodchuck, Canadian goose, a parrot and more. She was proud of her family and heritage, her home and her town.
Rosanna’s family would like to thank the staff at Harbor Point in Centerville, Donna Dragos, RN with Hospice of Massachusetts, VNA of Cape Cod, Olga Olenka, Mimi Brickley and all who helped so she could remain at her beloved home as long as possible and to pass away peacefully.
Celebration of Life
East Sandwich Grange Hall
91 Old County Road
December 7, 2019
Wishing you all peaceful hearts as you share warm memories of this extraordinary woman! We are so grateful to have been a part of her journey.
The entire Harbor Point team
December 3, 2019
Dear John & Family,
We send you and your family our Love, especially now at the passing of your Mom.
Rose is surrounded with Love 24-7 and is showering you with the same. When you think of her, smile, knowing she is with you.
November 22, 2019
Rosanna was one of the most interesting women I have known. I got to know her in her capacity as an antiques dealer. She was someone who knew and loved antiques. I would see her at the local flea markets and in her shop whenever I saw her sign out. She would come out to greet customers often with a scrappy terrier barking and a hen strutting her stuff. There was also a parrot in the kitchen keeping watch. The shed out back was open and then you might wander into the shop in the sun porch. One day we were talking about Sandwich glass jewelry and I mentioned I knew a few names but there was one I couldn't identify. Rosanna immediately identified the maker. We talked about antiques and also about living her life on the Cape. She had an enthusiasm even into her later years for her life, her family, antiques and the Cape. It was a privilege to meet her.