In loving memory of our father, grandfather, husband, brother, friend and helpful neighbor, Mike Rose.
Kenneth Michael Rose, known to his friends and family as Mike, was born on January 22, 1944, and died on March 14, 2023 from complications of Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia. In his 79 years, Mike touched the lives of many, and he will be extraordinarily missed by his family and community.
Mike was the third of five children born to Kenneth Milan Rose and Marguerite Huffman Rose, both of Mason City, Iowa. Mike and the family particularly adored his late mother, whose remarkable love and devotion provided a true foundation for her five children, even through difficult circumstances.
With his father a career Army Sergeant, Mike and his family found themselves moving around frequently. Their stops included Guam, El Paso, Germany, Louisiana (Fort Polk), France and Killeen, always with Mason City as home base. Mike arrived in Killeen, Texas as a high school freshman who loved the game of golf, which he learned from his days as a caddy in Orleans, France.
Mike always credited his late Mother, high school teacher Charles Patterson, and the Killeen Kiwanis Club with motivating him to attend college. Mr. Patterson was the first person other than his mother who told Mike he was smart, which was like pouring water on a flower in the desert. And the Kiwanis Club provided Mike a $500 scholarship geared toward high school graduates who were “on the bubble” as it related to attending college. It was just the nudge Mike needed, and changed his life for the better.
After attending Mason City Junior College, Temple Junior College, Iowa State University and Mary Hardin-Baylor, Mike found his footing at Southwest Texas (SWT), where he graduated in 1967. He worked hard to put himself through college, rarely could afford textbooks, and often missed meals. His luck shifted when he discovered that he qualified for a $600 government-backed loan, enabling him to purchase a meal ticket. He would always talk about those meals, and never failed to clean his plate for the rest of his life.
Mike’s greatest joy during those early years was the game of golf. He had the most unconventional golf swing – he made Jim Furyk look like Adam Scott… And while some friends made fun of it (once described as looking like a “guy trying to kill a cat in a phone booth”…), his swing was remarkable for just how athletic it was. After all, getting back to “square” when you don’t get the club head above your shoulders is not an easy thing to do.
And boy could he play the game of golf. By his senior year at Killeen High School, Mike shot in the low 70’s, was the best member on his varsity team, and finished third in district his junior and senior years. At SWT, he went on to great distinction as a varsity athlete, but got off to a wobbly start that he would often enjoy telling (and re-telling).
Mike introduced himself to coach Keith Hoffman sight-unseen, and asked for the opportunity to play on the team. After seeing his swing, Coach Hoffman barely gave him an opportunity to participate in qualifying, and told him he needed to “stop using socks as headcovers if he wanted to play for the Bobcats…” After four rounds of qualifying the subsequent week, Mike finished second all-around. He then became a leader and fixture on the team for the next two years.
Those were great years for the SWT Men’s Golf Team – winning the Lone Star Conference Championship for the first time, and earning their first-ever trips to Nationals in 1966 (Shawnee, Oklahoma) and 1967 (Davenport, Iowa). They came within a few strokes of winning Nationals in 1967, a real high point for Bobcat Men’s Golf.
In the years following graduation from SWT, Mike demonstrated his commitment to serving others in a unique and profound way. Recently divorced, supporting Mike’s two younger siblings who were still in her care, and working two jobs (retail clerk by day, and nurse’s aide by night), Mike’s mother was struggling to support the family. And as the first generation – and the first within his generation – to graduate from college, Mike rolled up his sleeves in order to help his family.
Moving back to Killeen, Mike moved in with his mother and two younger siblings, using his teacher’s salary to pay for her education at Mary Hardin-Baylor. Marguerite started college at the age of 49, and finished in 3 years with a GPA of 3.5. And with that college degree, she started a 15-year career in the Killeen Public Schools, joining the staff at Rancier Junior High School. This was a full-circle moment, as Marguerite had previously worked in the cafeteria of that same school prior to her college education. With the benefit of Mike’s generous support, his mother found financial stability for the first time in her life.
Serving others always came naturally to Mike. While living in Europe, he saved toddlers from drowning on two separate occasions, receiving a well-publicized commendation from the Commanding Officer. And there are hundreds of Dripping Springs residents who can recall the un-scripted kindness of Mike Rose – changing a tire for a stranded driver, or simply being there for a friend or stranger in need. He demonstrated world-class empathy all his life, and his example of service is both cherished by his family, and a gift to the community.
Mike’s family meant the world to him – they were his greatest accomplishment and his pride and joy. Many have heard the story of Mike’s “love-at-first sight” meeting of Bastrop native and SWT graduate Bonnie Barton, as she walked into Mike’s 4th grade classroom in Crystal City, Texas. Out-punting his coverage, the two were married within three months. Choosing to plant their roots in Dripping Springs, Mike and Bonnie were newcomers to the community in 1977, which makes them old-timers by today’s standards.
Mike was a proud father to son, Patrick, and daughter, Laura. And loved deeply his daughter-in-law, Anna, and son-in-law, Ted. There was never a moment – ever – when Mike did not prioritize his children. He was present, giving, kind and loving. Raised by a father who never told his son “I love you,” Mike rarely finished a conversation without saying those very words to his own children, and meaning them in the most sincere of ways.
Mike was a particularly proud grandfather to Henry (9), Charlie (7), Ella (7) and Jack (3). Each of them loved and will miss “Papa Rose,” who never failed to make them laugh, was always up for dancing, and provided the same steadfast adoration that he did for his own children. Mike was also cherished by siblings, nephews and nieces, and anyone fortunate enough to be in his personal orbit.
While Mike taught school during multiple phases of his professional career, he and Bonnie were particularly proud of their years in real estate, founding Rose Real Estate in 1986. Countless Dripping Springs residents, past and present, credit the Roses with providing sage advice and diligent service at a critical time in their lives. And Mike and Bonnie made a formidable team.
Mike is survived by his wife, Bonnie Rose, his children Patrick and Laura, and their respective families. Mike’s loving siblings also survive him. They include Bette Morris (Lampasas), Patty Rose (Arizona) and John Rose (Houston), along with their respective families, who cherished Uncle Mike. Mike is preceded in death by his late sister, Barbara.
Those who have been unfortunate enough to encounter Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia understand just how challenging these diseases can be. And the past few months were a sincere challenge for Mike, testing even his abundant optimism and resilience. The family is very grateful for the wonderful love that surrounded Mike and his loved ones over the past few weeks.
A funeral service celebrating Mike’s life is scheduled for Saturday, March 25th, at 1:00 pm, at Dripping Springs United Methodist Church. An optional Visitation will precede the service at the same location, starting at 12:00 pm. A family graveside service will be held at 4:00 pm at St. Mary’s Catholic Parish in String Prairie, Texas.
Arrangements are handled by Harrell Funeral Home. Donations may be made in Mike’s honor to Helping Hands, P.O. Box 804, Dripping Springs, Texas 78620.