Norman R. Rose
Norman R. Rose, 91, passed away at home Monday, March 25, 2013, due to complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was born June 19, 1921, in the Mission District, San Francisco. Norman was a Patriot, Husband, Father and Friend---WWII Bataan Death March and Prisoner of War Survivor.
Just prior to his mother's passing when he was 12 years of age, his family moved to Salinas, where he made his closest friends that would last a lifetime. Norman and his friends were known for the "mischief' they created from Junior High thru High School. Having to be driven home by the local Sheriff was not unusual and he credits the care of his friend's parents for keeping him out of more serious trouble. After graduating from High School, he and many of his High School friends joined the California National Guard in 1940. Heeding the call of service to Country with the war in Europe starting, the Guard was made part of the US Army
in 1941 and the 194th Tank Battalion out of Salinas was shipped to the Philippines, just prior to the declaration of war with Japan. There, Norman and his fellow soldiers, who would later be decorated for their heroism, fought the Japanese on Bataan for three months until their forced surrender. They would all become part of what became known as the 'Bataan Death March' where thousands perished on the 60 mile trek. These men all then became prisoners of war for the next three and one half years until the nuclear bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, forcing the surrender of Japan to the United States. There are defining moments in our lives and this was it for Sergeant Norman R. Rose. He lost his best friend, Jack Brink and as with the other survivors, endured torture and other inhumane treatment but held no bitterness for his ordeal. An American flag has always flown proudly in front of every home he has lived in, a true patriot, he could be found pausing and saluting every American flag he encountered.
When anyone would thank him for his service to his Country and tell him he was a hero, he would say "why, I didn't do anything." He, like so many of what has been called the 'Greatest Generation,' was humble and rarely spoke of the atrocities of war.
The lessons of survival lasted his lifetime: all life deserves respect; near starvation taught him to always leave something for the next person; for these men who felt deserted by their Country, (No Mama, No Papa, No Uncle Sam- We are the Battling Bastards of Bataan), your word was your bond; truth, trust and integrity matter...you deal with what life hands you and are grateful for each day.
And so it was how he lived his professional and personal life: attending UC Berkeley on the G.I. Bill; drilling water and oil wells, working for Georgia Pacific Corporation in management, starting his own development/construction company with a partner; a successful/self-made business man, appreciative of the opportunities this Country provided; married to Dorothy for 60 years until her passing; raising two children, and traveling the world after retirement. He was a resident of San Jose for 53 years with a two year detour in La Habra and Whittier and one year in Red Bluff.
Norman loved all of the family dogs; always a Labrador Retriever and teased probably more than his kids because they didn't talk back, just loved you unconditionally. (His dog was at his side at his passing.) He loved "the art of deal" in business negotiations. Norman loved to play poker and shoot craps but more than anything else, he loved to play dominos and until two months ago could still be found at the Sainte Claire Club in San Jose on Mondays doing just that; he loved to make people laugh and had an amazing, reputable and at times acerbic wit—a trait that although it robbed him of so much, even the Alzheimer's could not take away.
Norman was a larger than life character, whose walk was his talk. He was a hero to others because of his war experience but he was a hero to his family because of what he did with that experience. To say he will be missed is an understatement; he is forever in our hearts.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy in 2010 and is survived by his two children; son, Brink Rose (Cindy); grandson, Norman Harley; two step-granddaughters, Brianna and Alexandra Lipka; his daughter, Normandy Rose; grandson, Isaac D. Escobedo (Sabrina) and great-grandson, Isaac A. Escobedo.
A Celebration of Norman's life will be held at a Memorial service on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 11:00 a.m., at the Salinas Elks Lodge
, 614 Airport Blvd., Salinas.
Military Honor Guard at 10:00 a.m., at Garden of Memories Cemetery/Tank Memorial, 850 Abbott St., Salinas.
His family will be scattering his ashes, at his request, in San Francisco Bay and Hanalei Bay, Kauai, HI.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to either the Veterans of Foreign Wars
, 406 W. 34th St., Kansas City, MO 64111; or Disabled American Veterans, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250; or a Veterans organization of your choice.