About 300 people converged Thursday at Marco Island Presbyterian Church to pay their respects to former Marine, aviator, businessman and philanthropist Bill Rose, who died April 9 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The memorial service for the 83-year-old Rose was laced with respect and humor, but the various speakers’ common take on the man was that above all, he was family oriented.
Main speaker Craig Woodward said the “larger than life” Rose had left a void.
“He was a Marine who could be tough when needed,” Woodward said, “but was caring with those he befriended.”
He said it was not common knowledge that Rose was adopted as a child, something that drove his fortitude and business acumen in later life.
As for Rose’s conviviality and “people person” skills, Woodward asked rhetorically: “Who could be friends with the likes of the Chairmen of Bacardi Rum, Barnett Bank and Piper Aircraft, and also be friends with so many ordinary people?”
Woodward went on to laud Rose’s community generosity, which culminated most recently with substantial grants to the Marco Library and the Marco Historical Museum.
He also paid tribute to Rose’s wife Myrt, a character in her own right who’d regularly do wings walks on a bi-plane, and actually hired a circus to celebrate Rose’s 75th birthday.
On that occasion, Woodward recalled, Myrt Rose — dressed in a skin-colored leotard — rode an elephant in the ring.
Speaker and friend Jim Weldon spoke of his and Rose’s mutual aviation passion, and friend Mike Lyon read a poem in Rose’s honor — about philosophically facing mortality with graciousness.
Rose’s son-in-law Jim Vandenbergh described Rose as a straight shooter who’d either like someone or, if he didn’t, would let them know in no uncertain terms.
“But,” he said, “there weren’t many people he didn’t like.”
Vandenbergh also reiterated Rose’s commitment to family, saying that the octogenarian’s business acumen arose from strength within his immediate family.
The church gathering was followed by a reception at the Marco Library’s Rose Hall, with an aircraft fly-by scheduled over Rose Marco River Marina later in the afternoon.