‘Beary’ sweet: Lincoln nursing homes donate teddy bears in memory of resident – Hastings Tribune

Hope Peterson remembers her late sister, Rosalie Tyer.

Rosalie Tyer always had two things — a smile on her face and a teddy bear beside her.

She had a love for life, a knack for giving — even if she had little to offer — and a special talent for spreading happiness.

At age 90, Tyer tested positive for COVID-19 and later died, but her love and affection for others is living on.

Grieving the loss of a beloved resident, two Lincoln senior living facilities — the Lexington Assisted Living Center and Sumner Place — teamed up to honor Tyer, who collected bears for over 20 years, and keep her love for stuffed animals alive.

The two nursing homes have raised $600 and have purchased more than 80 teddy bears to be donated to the children at the People’s City Mission and the Child Advocacy Center in memory of Tyer. Each bear will come with a note saying where the bears came from and what teddy bears meant to Tyer.

“It’s been such an uplifting project in the midst of the virus. It really gives us something bright to focus on,” said Julie Andresen, activities director at the Lexington. “Rosalie was always smiling, and you always saw her with a bear. She was just super easy to love.”

While the project is focused on memorializing Tyer, Andresen hopes they can bring a little joy to children in need as well.

“We are using the Winnie the Pooh quote, “be someone’s reason to smile,” so we really hope that we are able to put a smile on the children’s faces,” Andresen said.

Tyer’s sister, Hope Peterson, has loved being a part of the project and watching it heal those grieving her sister, she said.

“I think this effort is a sort of therapy for those at the nursing homes. These months of trying to keep everyone safe, dealing with isolation, vaccination, masks, testing, limited social activity, illness and even dying takes a toll on all these caregivers. It can be a blessing to have something happy to think about and prepare for,” Peterson said.

Despite Tyer’s constant glow of happiness, her life was far from easy. She was diagnosed with encephalitis caused by a mosquito bite at 6 months old. The “sleeping sickness” left her with crossed eyes and a brain impairment that would affect her through the entirety of her life.

Growing up, she struggled to build relationships and eventually had to quit school. 

Tyer found solace in her furry friends and the bears quickly became true companions for her.

While she loved her stuffed animals, she found she loved to give back even more. 

Before moving into the Lexington, she donated her extensive collection of stuffed animals to the fire department. While in the two facilities, she also came to love giving her bears away to children visiting other residents.

“It’s so nice that even with the troubled life that she had, she is recognized and some good has come from her life,” Peterson said.

Tyer’s ashes will be buried this spring alongside a small teddy bear.

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