Donald W Rose of Cascade, Montana, born in 1924, was one of five children to homesteaders Martin and Elsie (Westaway) Rose at Choteau, Montana. Dad’s early boyhood was shaped by open range cowboys (one being his father) who taught him to handle stock, drive teams of horses, hunt and trap. Dad’s mother, a well-educated lady, did her best to balance the rough life on the homestead by instilling an affection for learning, music, and manners. Dad attended Spring Valley, a one-room schoolhouse halfway between Choteau and Augusta. By the time Dad started high school he had turned into a formidable and accomplished athlete. But, true to Dad’s quiet and humble nature he only crowed about being the state marble champion!
During the great depression, Dad learned valuable lessons about survival as he watched his folks trade the bare necessities with neighbors. Dad followed in his brothers’ footsteps by enlisting in the Army Air Force in December 1942. He was specifically trained to fix electrical systems, generators, and magnetos in a variety of aircraft but most enjoyed working on the heralded P-51.
In 1946, Dad enrolled at Montana State College in Bozeman and earned a bachelor's degree in education. He then began his 27-year teaching and coaching career at Neihart. The following year he secured a job in Simms where he was dedicated to coaching all three sports and experienced some of the greatest athletes of his career. In his tenure, Simms did not lose a football game for eight years and at one point had a record of 65-1. His basketball teams played for the district championship ten of the eleven years, and his track athletes enjoyed similar successes. Dad later coached in Cut Bank for three years and after that relocated to Cascade to coach and teach, ultimately retiring in 1979. During this time Don and Carol raised the kids on the family ranch near Simms, instilling a work ethic and appreciation for land and animals.
Don was one of the first coaches in Montana to implement a new basketball craze called the zone defense. His involvement with other interested coaches around the state to get the eight-man football game sanctioned in Montana was something of which he was especially proud. He also served as the Class C representative on the committee that created the Montana Coaches Association. But among all the successes it was the effort he and long-time friend Bill Cornelius made to bring the first women's sports of basketball and track to the girls at Cascade High School in 1968, well before Title IX requirements, that made him most proud.
While in Simms, Don married Carol Buck, a local ranch girl and elementary teacher, whom he described as, “My ideal companion and a perfect mother for the kids.” Don and Carol indeed had kids, starting with Cathy (Bill Knox), followed by Jim (Cathy), then Margaret (Lorie Hutchison), and finally Mark (Maria). Don and Carol adored their six grandsons: Sage and Wesley Knox, Chase and Connor Rose, and Cayden and Taylor Rose. Don contended that having kids was the best thing he did in his life and we agree! Any successes that a child accomplished was not surprising to Dad and any failure or struggle was met with the ever-guiding comment, “Don’t worry, everything will be just fine.” He was always right.
Don and Carol enjoyed their numerous friends in Cascade. Don was a faithful member of the Lions Club, ultimately serving as District Governor. He and his life-long friends Tom Purkett and Floyd DeRusha explored miles upon miles of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, an annual tradition.
After selling the ranches at Simms, Dad couldn’t take retirement and consequently, moved to Paradise Valley near Livingston to help Mark at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch. Mom and Dad spent their summers caring for grandsons, working the ranch, and hosting weekly meals for the ranch’s worldwide guests at the historic Vink place. As usual, they developed genuine friendships with hundreds of people over a 20-year period.
Dad passed away peacefully Sunday morning December 1st with his family gathered nearby. Dad’s happy presence, dry sense of humor, quick smile, and one-liners kept everyone around him feeling good. We know he’s at peace and will keep in mind what he always told us, “Don’t worry, everything will be just fine.”
A memorial service will be held December 21, at 1 p.m. at the Cascade United Methodist Church. Gifts may be made in Dad’s honor to Lions Club of Cascade or to the Cascade Methodist Church. Arrangements by Croxford Funeral Home.
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