TAUNTON (CBS) – When Rosemary’s husband, George Heath, died — his legacy became her life’s work. Rosemary says her husband died a hero and she’s angry his name was added to a victim’s memorial.
“I could hear his voice in my ear; no one’s going to know the story of what we did. You have to be the one to tell them,” said Heath from her Taunton home.
Two years ago, Rosemary’s beloved George was killed saving the life of a pregnant waitress. He stepped in the way of knife-wielding man on a stabbing rampage at a Taunton Bertucci’s. Off-duty Plymouth County Sheriff’s Deputy James Creed shot and killed the suspect, but not before George was fatally wounded.
“We didn’t talk to each other when it happened. We heard her scream and then we just both looked to our left and bolted up. There was no fear,” Heath recalled.
She added, “If Jim Creed wasn’t there with his weapon I wouldn’t be here because after he stabbed George he was coming for me and Jim stopped him.”
George’s bravery has inspired many. Four months after the attack, Rosemary accepted the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery on George’s behalf. Last year, George was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Medal and back in April, the restaurant where George was a regular gave his wife the stool he sat on — in his last moments.
“There’s a lot of positives that came from that night and that’s what I want to focus on. And this wall is a negative to me,” said Heath.
The wall stands in the Garden of Peace. Last year, George’s name was engraved into a granite slab honoring victims of violence. Heath says it was done without her consent. She’s since been fighting to get it removed.
“He valued life. And he knew how fragile it was. So to have that be on there as a victim and not have that conversation with me, to get my input on it see if it was something that I wanted. To see if it was something that would work with what I’ve been trying to do for his legacy. But they never even gave me an opportunity,” Heath said.
We reached out to Garden of Peace and they sent us a letter addressed to Rosemary Heath in March. In it, they say the “request for engraving met their criteria and was submitted by an immediate family member.” They also “acknowledge George acted in an extremely heroic manner. But that his life was taken by an act violence which is by definition a homicide.”
Heath wants to share her story as a word or warning for others grieving loved ones.
“They’re not listening to what’s being said and how hurtful it can be,” she said. “I’d like to see changes.”
She says her focus will continue to be keeping her husband’s legacy alive through his foundation. And keep her promise of saving the life of a stranger. In two weeks she’ll donate a kidney in his honor.
“I’ll be keeping my promise. I’ve done every other promise George made me make. This will be the last one,” Rosemary said.