Maj. Gen. Robert Rose dead at 77
Built bridges between military, Bay Ridge civilians
Maj. Gen. Robert Rose, the former commanding general New York Army National Guard and a Bay Ridge civic leader who belonged to many organizations, including the Fort Hamilton Citizens Action Committee and the Colonial Club, died April 5 at the age of 77.
The cause of death was leukemia, according to the website of the Currie Funeral Home in Reedville, Virginia, where Maj. Gen. Rose moved a few years ago.
Maj. Gen. Rose was the former owner of Rose Fuel Inc., a Brooklyn oil distribution business.
In addition to the Fort Hamilton group and the Colonial Club, he was also active in the Boy Scouts of America and served as a troop leader at Saint Anselm Catholic Church.
He was born in Brooklyn in 1938 to Anita Betty Rocholl and Charles Hess Rose.
Lt. Col. Steve Ryan, a family friend, said Robert Rose enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1962. Ryan’s dad, Gen. Herbert Ryan, was a close friend.
In 1968, Rose was a field commander of an artillery unit at Camp Smith in upstate New York. He was later put in charge of the 104th Field Artillery in Jamaica. He steadily moved up the ranks and in 1995, was appointed commanding general of the New York Army National Guard.
Maj. Gen. Rose worked hard to ensure that the National Guard was treated with respect, according to Lt. Col. Ryan. “The army is made up of the active duty soldiers, the Reserves and the National Guard. He wanted to make sure the guard got the respect it deserved and that it didn’t get overlooked,” he said.
Calling Maj. Gen. Rose “an outstanding guy,” Lt. Col. Ryan said he was a great military leader. “He was good to his troops. He ate his meals with the privates, not the generals. He used to say he wanted to know what was really going on and that the troops would tell him the truth,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Rose retired from the military in 1998. But it wasn’t the end of his ties to the U.S. Army.
After he retired, he became the leader of the Liberty Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, a group that advocates for better pay and treatment of active duty soldiers.
He also played a key role in the formation of the Fort Hamilton Citizens Action Committee, a group of Bay Ridge civic and business leaders who work to build closer ties between the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton, located in Bay Ridge, and the surrounding community.
Bill Guarinello, president of the committee, said Maj. Gen. Rose served as an important bridge between the civilian group and the military personnel at the fort by helping the civilians to better understand military culture.
Maj. Gen. Rose also had an outgoing personality, according to friends. “He was a great guy, really down to earth,” Guarinello said. “He didn’t sugar coat things. He was a plain speaking guy. He shot from the hip.”
Another friend, Jim Clark, president of the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, worked in the Boy Scouts with Maj. Gen. Rose. “He was an all-around good guy. He was a very outgoing guy. You had a lot of laughs with him,” Clark said.
Maj. Gen. Rose was a longtime member of the Colonial Club, a group of business leaders who meet once a month in Bay Ridge.
As word of his death spread, tributes to Maj. Gen. Rose poured in from all corners of Bay Ridge.
“We have lost a good man in the passing of General Robert Rose,” said state Sen. Marty Golden. “A true patriot and champion of his beloved military, Bob was indeed a distinguished gentleman. May his legacy of leadership continue to be part of Bay Ridge life for many years.”
Councilmember Vincent Gentile said Maj. Gen. Rose “always seemed to have a great disposition and was a great supporter of Fort Hamilton and veterans overall.”
Gentile added, “I’ve missed him since he moved and I am now saddened by the news of his passing.”
Maj. Gen. Rose is survived by his wife, Beate Rose; his brother, Charles; daughter, Kelly; sons, Robert and Stephen; 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A wake will take place at the Currie Funeral Home on April 12. A funeral mass will be held at St. Francis deSales Catholic Church in Reedville on April 13.
Maj. Gen. Rose will be buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.
The family has requested that memorial contributions be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Virginia Chapter, 5540 Falmouth St., Suite 101, Richmond, VA 23230.
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