What is our response when asked for our help or see a need at an inconvenient time?
Dave and Lenna Rose do not look at life’s requests as inconvenient, says Sam Lungren, a friend of the family.
“None of us knows the extent of our intrusion in the Roses’ lives,” Lungren says.
“That’s because no matter how untimely tiresome or ‘inconvenient’ a favor is, it’s always greeted by them joyfully as an opportunity granted. Most times they fill a need without being asked. This propensity translates directly to this community life, helping South Whidbey be the special place it is.”
They do so much for people that Pat Buchanan of FETCH says she cannot figure out how they each have time to hold down a job.
“These two are such a force for good,” she says.
“I met Dave Rose at the dog park about a decade ago. I gave him a FETCH brochure. The next thing I knew, there was a nice fat check in the mail along with an encouraging note.”
After that, Lenna was instrumental in most, if not all, of the nonprofit’s fundraising efforts, Buchanan recalls.
“Put a year into putting together a successful fundraiser? No problem. Haul a deer carcass out of the park that the dogs are rolling in? Just give her a pitchfork. Dave mends builds and mows at the dog park, the guy can do anything. And that’s just FETCH!”
She says they also took in an exchange student from Vietnam who became part of their permanent family.
“They give time and support to WAIF, M-Bar-C, South Whidbey parks, WICA, WCT, Operation Smile, Sno-Isle Tech and Skills Center, and that’s just a sample of their involvement,” Buchanan remarks.
On a personal note, she says when her husband passed away last year, Lenna stayed with her so she wouldn’t be alone, and Dave took over all the big chores.
Their giving nature is obvious during a visit to the couple’s home; they give any guest their full attention, ignoring their constantly ringing phone.
What causes them to want to help others?
Dave remarks, “We don’t do anything special, we just figure if something needs doing and we are capable, then why not.
“If we’re walking along a path and a limb is down, we might as well clear the path for the next person. If a child needs extra attention that their parents can’t or aren’t giving them, why not fill in the gap.”
Lenna says, “I regret we didn’t adopt a lot of children when we got married.”
She sighs, but then lights up, saying, “But then we do have a lot of adopted children through other people’s children.”
A Clinton mom, Sherry Sims says, “Many years ago I was not in a good place and wasn’t a good mom. The Roses stepped up and helped out my son.
I didn’t have any parenting role models, but watching them inspired me to do so much better. Yet the Roses probably have no idea the difference they made for us.”
Children and youth are a passion for the Roses.
On a world level, Lenna volunteers through Operation Smile as a registered nurse. Lenna and Dave have a heart for youth at home, as well. They set up a fund for South Whidbey students to go to vocational schools.
Dave says he learned practical tech skills growing up at home, and added that his family was great.
“Today, too many young people don’t know how to fix a toilet, or patch a leak. I would like to start a volunteer home-maintenance workshop for our youth.”
Lenna says her childhood wasn’t easy; her parents had to both work full time, and they struggled with paying bills.
“My dad was really harsh,” she stops and tears up. “I’m sorry.
I hadn’t thought about this in so long.”
Dave consoles, her handing her some tissue, and says, “Your mom is loving.”
Lenna starts to smile. “Oh, yes, my mom is wonderful. Every time she comes to visit, I recruit her into volunteering. She’s a great sport. My babysitter Mary and my pastor were strong, positive influences for me. I always loved Sunday school, everyone was so nice, and they had a candy store,” she laughs.
Lenna’s faith is stalwart, though she says there is a lot she does not understand.
“Why can’t the end of life be prettier? Why can’t we go out with dignity?”
She says, “As a critical-care and recovery nurse, I see too much suffering.”
Dave says, “You know I have come to the place where I can say I am a Christian, but with a lot of questions. I saw a sign once that said, ‘If you’re an atheist, you better be right.’ There isn’t a downside to being a believer.
“And there isn’t a downside to giving,” he adds.
And giving is what they do, says Deborah Jones, a Realtor and WAIF volunteer.
“Dave and Lenna work quietly behind the scenes in nearly every community volunteer project I can think of — so very helpful and yet you may not even know they were a key part of the work being done.
“No fanfare, no pat on the back required,” Jones says. “When my husband was ill and passed away, they showed up with homemade food, and then went out with shovels and pruners in the dead of winter to work in my yard. Nothing seems to be an obstacle or too inconvenient for them to help another person or organization.”
The Roses hope they can be of more help in their lives.
Lenna says, “We don’t want to get comfortable in our own small world.
“Our inconveniences are nothing compared to others’ hardships. There is much to do, and much help is needed.
And aren’t we fortunate if we can be a small part of that,” she added.
David Rose Bio
Born: Aug. 6, 1951 in Erie, Penn., one of five children.
Education: High school in Wattsburg, Pa.
Family: Married Lenna Rose on Nov. 23, 1983. Daughter, Jennifer, 33.
Years on South Whidbey: 17.
Hobbies: Community projects, seed projects, welding, auto racing, operating heavy equipment, reading.
A few South Whidbey people you admire?
Sheriff’s department, fire department first responders, elected officials, anyone who puts themselves out there to help the community, churches and pastors like Jim Lindus.
Lenna Ann (Pickering) Rose Bio
Born: Dec. 6, 1962 in Owego, N.Y., one of six children.
Education: High school in New York and Auburn College, N.Y.
Children: Stepdaughter Jennifer.
Hobbies: Reading, walking our dog, entertaining, spending time with friends.
A few South Whidbey people you admire?
Jim Freeman, Marilyn and Jack Hoover, MaryJane and Kevin Lungren, Pastor Jim Lindus, Martha Murphy, Pat Buchanan.
What words would you like on your epitaph?
Dave: “Call before digging.”
What is a philosophy to live by?
Lenna: “It is better to learn from our mistakes than regret them.”
What motivates you?
Dave: “Helping people that are trying to help themselves, and not just looking for handouts or feel entitled.”
What is a quality of someone with class?
Lenna: “Someone who thinks less about themselves and more about others and the world.”
Nicest thing anyone ever said to you?
Dave: “Lenna said yes to marrying me!”
A truism in life?
Lenna: “No one will ever greet you at the door like your dog. Dave tried once and he looked ridiculous.”
A future goal?
Lenna and Dave: “To volunteer and live in another country for at least a year.”
What others have to say about David and Lenna Rose
“Lenna is indefatigable in her support of youth and the dramatic arts, (separately and in combination). She is downright courageous in her defense of loved ones, and she doesn’t shy away from confrontation.
Dave frequently laughs long and hard at himself (probably a coping mechanism). He’s a busy bee, and his skills as a handyman and overall operator of tools put him in great demand. I personally have items on Dave’s ‘to do’ list, as do others. They are generous in their giving and doing for others.”
Janet Johnston, neighbor
“Lenna and David mean the world to me. They are like a second set of parents, and some of my best friends.
I honestly can’t think of anyone right now who deserves this award more than they do. As far as Hometown Heroes go, they represent how all the little good deeds add up to the big things in life, and make you a wonderful person. If there’s anything I have learned from them it is that. I love you, Lenny and Dave.”
Emma Lungren, eighth-grader at Langley Middle School
“Not only our community but the world is a better place because of David and Lenna. They are two of the most generous and caring people I’ve ever known. Their commitment to helping others is truly inspiring!”
Becky and Tim Foote, community volunteers
“No matter what the task, Lena and David arrive with a smile on their faces, a bounce in their step, servant hearts and a can-do attitude. Their generosity and love is an example for all of us. Our church and our community are so much richer for having these Hometown Heroes sharing the journey with us.”
Pastor Jim Lindus, Trinity Lutheran Church, Freeland
“The Goss Lake community is much better off having Dave and Lenna as neighbors. With their selfless giving, they both have great hearts. Dave has provided leadership for neighbors and volunteers of Goss Lake’s public access, organizes work days and picnics. They have always worked diligently to protect and maintain a safe and welcoming environment at Goss Lake for the community.
I’ve learned the power of communication from Dave Rose. He can mobilize volunteers to make things happen just by communicating with his neighbors and many friends. Dave also volunteers with the South Whidbey Parks & Rec District to assist with the Whidbey Island Triathlon.”
Terri Arnold, director, South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District
“Lenna and Dave are casual acquaintances of mine. I know them to be earnest, warm hearted, sleeves-rolled-up kind of people who have always been welcoming to me. They always struck me as rather extraordinary individuals who quietly went about being the best people they could be, and put the well-being of others high on their list of important things.”
Jim Scullin, South Whidbey volunteer
“I love Dave and Lenna Rose, and their dog Leo! It is always wonderful to be a part of a volunteer activity when you know Dave and Lenna are involved. Five years ago when I began organizing the Island County Fair parade, I asked Dave and Lenna if they would help. They replied positively, and the parade staging area runs smoothly as a result. Dave and Lenna are not only assets to our community but to the world through their international involvement in groups such as Operation Smile and the exchange-student program at South Whidbey High School.”
Carol Gannaway, Canine Potential Dog Trainer
“Lenna and David are always there to give me a helping hand and make all my dreams come true, like taking me on a trip to Alaska, which was a dream of a lifetime.”
Mom Pickering, and Rusty (her dog)
“Dave and Lenna Rose are the most giving people that I know. They have opened their home for many parties and events, and they have opened their wallets to financially support the many organizations here on the island. They always have smiles on their faces and are always available for a chat or a kind word. I am delighted to call them my friends.”
Lori Cavender, Readiness To Learn and founder of Ryan’s House
“Dave & Lenna are quick to offer to help, whether it is to:
• Help a school age child with homework or fun;
• Help a neighbor with dogs, projects, or just checking in;
• Support or organize an event; Whidbey Tri, Friends of Goss Lake, Goss Lake Water Board, WAIF, FETCH, M-Bar-C Ranch, Trinity Lutheran…to name a few;
• Feed and love those who come through their door!
Some special characteristics of Dave: support or lead … can do either and make it better and everyone happy; has knowledge, experience and tools, and is always willing to share them; able to allow others to try their hand, and give help only when asked or needed.
We are fortunate to have these two as a part of our lives.”
Larry Simonson, neighbor of the Roses
“As neighbors and community volunteers with Dave and Lenna we are thankful they are as community spirited as they are. They work tirelessly for the community and others. Whidbey Island could use many more like Dave and Lenna Rose.”
Arden and Jan Nelson, neighbors
“Lenna and David are so thoughtful and good to Lenna’s mother. They pay her heat bills, send care packages, foods, even a bed for their dog.”
Donna Pickering, sister-in-law
“I am one of the Roses’ neighbors. They display ongoing unconditional commitment to enhancing the lives of both humans and the ‘dog nation’ in their community and everywhere they go on the planet. Their good deeds run the gamut from hosting a website for the Goss Lake community, hand-making ornaments for the Bayview holiday tree fundraiser, setting up tables — the list goes on and on and on. Their generosity is totally without limits.
Anyone who has had the good fortune of crossing paths with Dave and Lenna will become a better person as a result of the exposure to their love. I feel blessed to have met them.”
Joni Panciera, neighbor
“I work long hours with Lenna at the hospital. She has so many fantastic characteristics I respect. She is a person of principles. When we work together, I know her patients will get the best care they deserve.
She and Dave are generous, and like ambassadors to anyone that comes to visit them. All towns deserve to have Hometown Heroes like these two.”
Minyee Chung, hospital co–worker of Lenna’s
“I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Lenna and Dave over the years. These two really are that special. My wife, Nicole, has noted that Lenna is like an angel. I know that is very heavy praise and a lot to live up to, but I honestly cannot think of anyone I know who has a purer heart than Lenna … and Dave’s great too.
Honestly, they are two amazing people, and no one else is more deserving of being honored than them. Truly, they make the lives of those around them better just by being who they are.”
Don Sakaida, part-time resident of South Whidbey
“They volunteer and provide their time and energy in such an gracious easy going way. The sense of humor, fun and kindness they bring makes a moment special. Their support, thoughtfulness and integrity is so true that their relationships seem so meaningful. They inspire me to be able to contribute to the community, and gladly embrace our time with acquaintances, friends and family as simply a way to live life. We should all be so good to one another.”
Akemi Sakaida, part-time resident of South Whidbey