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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 17:50:07 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: OBIT: Rosemary W. Leary, 66; led fugitive life with LSD guru
Rosemary W. Leary, 66; led fugitive life with LSD guru
By Tom Long, Globe Staff, 2/12/2002
Rosemary Woodruff Leary once quipped that she qualified for a "Stand by
Your Man Award" for her long association with her husband, LSD guru Timothy
Leary. And by all accounts she was right. After helping the psychedelic
provocateur escape from a California prison in 1970, she fled the country
and remained underground for 23 years. Timothy Leary was only underground
for three years before he was captured.
Mrs. Leary, 66, who was Timothy Leary's third wife, died of congestive
heart failure Feb. 7 at her home in Aptos, Calif. Funeral arrangements are
Born in St. Louis, she was a onetime flight attendant who was modeling when
she met her future husband at an art exhibit in New York City in 1965. She
accepted an invitation to join the former Harvard professor at the
Millbrook Estate in Duchess County, N.Y., where he was conducting his
unconventional drug research and advocating that the enlightened "turn on,
tune in, and drop out."
The Learys were married in 1967. The following year they were arrested for
drug possession in Laguna Beach, Calif. Mrs. Leary was released on bail,
but Mr. Leary was held in the state prison at San Louis Obispo.
According to counterculture lore, Mrs. Leary, with the aid of the Weather
Underground and other radical groups, helped Leary escape from prison by
climbing a telephone line over the prison wall. The couple fled the country
with forged passports and found refuge with the Black Panthers in Algeria,
until international publicity led the Panthers to "detain" them.
The couple then escaped to Switzerland. They separated in 1971. Two years
later, Mr. Leary was apprehended while trying to enter Afghanistan and was
returned to the United States. After serving three years in prison, he was
released on parole in 1976. The couple divorced later that year.
Mrs. Leary would remain underground for 20 more years, living in
Afghanistan, Italy, and Central and South America. After assuming the name
Sarah Woodruff, she returned to this country in 1980 and lived on Cape Cod
before returning to California in 1993.
Yesterday, her friend Denis Berry said, "She was in hiding for 23 years
because she didn't want to be brought back to corroborate Timothy's
testimony about the people who helped them escape."
Joyce Johnson, a writer for the Cape Codder newspaper, was friendly with
Mrs. Leary during the 1980s and '90s, when she lived in Provincetown and
Truro and held administrative posts at the Provincetown Inn and
Provincetown radio station WOMR-FM. She described Mrs. Leary as a "very
sensitive and caring woman with a good sense of humor, who was always
trying to quit smoking and worrying about her weight."
"She had very little money and was always afraid that the feds would get
her," Johnson said. "She had a very rough life."
In 1993 Mrs. Leary returned to California, where she was cleared of bail
jumping and fugitive charges with the help of a lawyer hired by her former
In her final years, Mrs. Leary, who leaves a brother, Gary Woodruff of Long
Beach, Calif., wrote freelance articles and managed the trust that
administers Leary's archives.
The couple renewed their acquaintanceship. In 1995, while Mr. Leary was
conducting a very public fight against prostate cancer, she said, "I think
there is an added sweetness to Tim now. In the past you could say he was
brilliant, bigger than life, all those things, but not so much a sweet
person. Now there is a gentleness about him."
Every year since Mr. Leary's death in 1996, his friends held a memorial pot
luck dinner in his honor. Last year, at what was billed as the fifth and
final dinner, Mrs. Leary located some of Timothy's ashes that hadn't been
lofted into space with the rest of his remains. She mixed the ashes with
glitter and divided them into 75 thumb-sized plastic bags which were passed
out as party favors.
"She made sure that when they threw the ashes, he would go out in style,"
This story ran on page B7 of the Boston Globe on 2/12/2002.
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