George W. Rose Collection [1900-2003]
George W. Rose was a World War II veteran, entrepreneur, radio broadcaster, and activist in the Democratic Party in Massachusetts, as well as a delegate to the 1960 Democratic convention in which he was pledged to John F. Kennedy. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on August 16, 1921. His mother Anna (Souza) Rose (1882-1960), although born in Boston, had family roots in Sao Miguel, Azores. His Brazilian-born father, John Dutra Rose (1882-1951), who immigrated to the United States from Recife, had roots in Faial, Azores. Anna and John Rose raised nine children in Cambridge, with George being the youngest son.
At the time of George Rose’s birth, the Portuguese population in Cambridge was among the top five in Massachusetts. These Portuguese settled primarily in East Cambridge and by 1902 this community had grown to such an extent that the Boston archdiocese established St. Anthony’s parish. Most of East Cambridge’s Portuguese residents had immigrated from the Azores, notably Sao Miguel, and the majority were wage earners toiling in the city’s numerous factories.
George Rose’s father followed a slightly different path to East Cambridge. His mother, (George’s grandmother), Maria (Salta) Rose grew up in Horta, Faial, in a wealthy family. She wed John Dutra Rose but he proved to be an abusive husband. From her family she inherited an estate in Brazil in the coastal city of Recife and moved there. Apparently her husband joined her in Recife and she birth to her only son, also named John Dutra Rose. Perhaps with the hope that he would find more opportunity in the United States, his mother sent him at age 14 to Boston. Eventually she separated from her husband, left Brazil for Massachusetts, and remarried.
Upon his arrival in Boston, John Dutra Rose found work on a farm in Dighton, Massachusetts, living there and in New Bedford where he attended public school and learned English. John Dutra Rose subsequently moved to Cambridge, married George’s mother, Anna (Souza) Rose, and found work in the Cambridge Rubber Company’s factory, known for its production of rubber boots and a large employer of Portuguese. He would later establish a small repair business, specializing in the restoration of religious statuary.
Similar to many others of his generation in East Cambridge, George Rose grew up in a household where Portuguese was spoken, but he attended public schools and learned to navigate through both Portuguese and American cultures. After completing his grammar school education at the Putnam School, Rose entered Rindge Technical High School. Financial hardship in his family in the wake of the Great Depression, led him to apply for and receive a job in the federal Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). He left school and moved to Colorado. His work with the CCC included the operation of heavy construction equipment and by 1940 he returned to Massachusetts, enlisting in the U.S.
Army and training in ordinance at Fort Devens, as well as in army construction equipment and maintenance at Fort Edwards.
Following Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II, George Rose served in the U.S. Army Combat Engineers, participating in three major invasions: Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Cebu in the Philippines. He spent a total of 34 months in combat duty in the South Pacific. Before his honorable discharge in 1945, he attained the rank of Sargent of the Guard at Fort Devens, and received a number of combat awards and medals, including a Presidential Unit Citation and three battle stars.
In 1945, while at Fort Devens, Rose met and married Mary Frances Turner of Haverhill, Massachusetts. The following year they had a daughter, Maureen Frances, the first of nine children. The other eight children, born between 1947 and 1965, were Sharon Ann, Carol Lee, George W. Jr., Marilyn Bernice, Donna Marie, Charles John, Kenneth Robert, and Judith Ann. George Rose purchased a house in Cambridge, before moving to nearby Medford.
To support his growing family Rose engaged in a number of businesses. This ranged from a refuse removal company to an asphalt paving firm. He also engaged in real estate, gaining accreditation through the Harvard University Extension program. He also attended the Calvin Coolidge College (no longer operating) in Boston, receiving a liberal arts degree in 1960. In addition, Rose was a well-known member of the Lusitania Club of Cambridge and was heavily involved in a number of charitable organizations, serving as president of the Cambridge Lions Club, chairman of the Cambridge Kiwanis Underprivileged Children’s Fund, and was a fund raiser for the Home for Italian Children in Boston.
Apart from his business activities, Rose, a talented athlete, excelling in basketball and soccer, played semi-professional soccer and nearly made the U.S. Olympic soccer team in 1956. He was well-known in the Boston area’s Portuguese community not only for his participation and leadership in a number of Portuguese social and cultural organizations, but also as a radio broadcaster on “The Portuguese Hour,” heard on Medford’s station WHIL, in which he was part-owner.
In part influenced by his older brother John Dutra Rose, Jr., who was active in local politics in Cambridge, George Rose became deeply involved in Democratic Party politics at the local, state, and national levels. An early supporter of John F. Kennedy, Rose was a delegate to the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, in 1960. During presidential campaign he accompanied Kennedy to a number of rallies in the Boston area, translating for the many Portuguese in attendance. He was later a consultant for and friend of Congressman Thomas “Tip” O’Neil, as well as Governor Michael Dukakis.
In the 1960s and 1970s, George Rose was involved in a number of businesses, including restaurants and hotels, north of Boston, and in an automobile tire recycling firm. Dedicated to his family and friends, while always prizing his Portuguese heritage, Rose also took up painting and poetry. He retired from business in the early 1980s and
moved with his wife to Fort Meyers, Florida. Following his death in 1988, he received numerous accolades for his community service and charitable work, and was bestowed with a public square in Cambridge named after him and dedicated by Mayor Alfred Vellucci.