Robert Rose, 78

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 8:15am

Robert Edward Rose, 78, of Block Island, passed away peacefully Friday, May 17, at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London, Conn. He was the husband of Judith Bonanno Rose.

Born Oct. 28, 1940, Robert was a native Block Islander descended from Tormut Rose, one of the original 1661 settlers. He lived his whole life on Block Island and never liked to leave it for a single day. Robert was raised on the family farm at a time when island life was still centered on fishing and farming. Growing up on a farm instilled the work ethic for which he was known his whole life. In 1959, he graduated from the Block Island School and began working at the Block Island Power Company. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1962, serving four years. He was awarded Airman of the Month and the rank of sergeant, and was the head of the liquid oxygen missile support plant on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific during the Vietnam War.

After his service he returned to Block Island and married Judith Bonanno of Berwick, Maine, and raised a family. From 1967 to 1970, he served as chief of police on Block Island. At age 27, he was the youngest chief in Rhode Island, and has been known since by the nickname "Chief." Early in his career he began building homes on Block Island and established Rose Enterprises Incorporated in 1972. He designed and built over 100 custom homes, as well as constructing significant commercial buildings including The Island Free Library, The Block Island Medical Center, Ballard's Inn, The Overlook, The Rose Farm Inn and Payne's Harbor View Inn.

He and his wife Judith developed the family farm into the current day Rose Farm Inn, preserving the rolling hills of the farm as open space for everyone to enjoy. He is survived by his wife Judith; his three children Robert James Rose, Jamie Marie Rose, husband Peter Helstrom, William Bryant Rose, wife Lisa and children, Justin, Chad and Cassie; his granddaughter Brenna Rose; brother Lawrence Rose, and sister Janice Burke also survive him. He was predeceased by parents Cornelius and Marion Rose; and his infant brother, William, infant daughter, Johanna, and Brandon Hetherington. A memorial service will be held Friday, May 31, at the Harbor Baptist Church at 11 a.m., followed by military honors at the Island Cemetery. Everyone is invited to a celebration of his life at The Rose Farm Inn following the graveside service.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Block Island Medical Center, Box 919, Block Island, R.I. 02807.