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Obituary: William Robert Rose, III

William Robert Rose, III, 70, known as Bill, a real estate investor and former roofing contractor with longstanding attachments to Falls Church, died on January 23 at his home here, of congestive heart failure and kidney failure related to polycystic kidney disease.

Mr. Rose lived his entire life in northern Virginia. He had a deep appreciation of the history of the area and loved stories about Falls Church and the families who lived here. He was a direct descendent of Timothy Munson, a nurseryman whose property, Munson’s Hill, near the present site of Seven Corners Shopping Center, was occupied first by the Confederates and later by the Union in the Civil War. It was on Munson’s Hill that the Confederates placed the “Quaker guns” (in reality painted logs) that led the Union officials viewing the hill by telescope from Washington, D.C., to believe that it was heavily fortified. Based on that ruse, the Union Army delayed its attempts to capture the hill for two months. Later, President Lincoln and General McClellan came to Munson’s Hill to review the procession of Union troops marching west from Bailey’s Crossroads, a procession that took over four hours and that led some historians to label it as Route 7’s first traffic jam. After the war, the nursery was restored, and it provided hundreds of American elm trees that were planted to line streets in Washington and Falls Church.

William Robert Rose, III, was born in 1936 in south Arlington, where he grew up in a house off Glebe Road that had a copper Mansard roof built by his father. His grandfather, William Robert Rose, had founded Rose Roofing Company in 1892, then located on 14th and R Streets in northwest Washington. In the late 1920’s, the business, known at that time as Rose Brothers Roofing, moved to a large lot in Rosslyn, Va. Following his graduation from Fairfax High School in 1954, Mr. Rose was hired as a roofer by the firm, run by his uncles and his father. In 1971, Mr. Rose bought the company after the Rose brothers decided to sell the Rosslyn property for high-rise development. Mr. Rose moved the firm, once again known as Rose Roofing Company, first to Alexandria and then to Falls Church, on property he bought at the corner of Washington and Westmoreland Streets. As the firm’s owner, Mr. Rose served as president of the Washington Area Roofers Contractors Association and the Virginia Roofers Contracting Association. He also served on the board of directors of the National Roofers Contractors’ Association.

In 1991, Mr. Rose sold the roofing company to his two oldest sons and began restoring a 36-acre farm in Lakota (Culpeper County), Va. He continued commuting to the farm from Falls Church, and raised vegetables and cattle as he cleared what had been an abandoned farmyard. In 2004, Mr.Rose sold the Westmoreland Street property for high rise development (now the WestLee), and Rose Roofing relocated to its present location in Haymarket, Va. Rose Roofing Company, now owned by William Robert Rose, IV, is the oldest roofing contractor serving the Washington area. Mr. Rose invested in real estate in Warrenton, Va. as well as in Haymarket and continued to manage it until his death.

Mr. Rose became very interested in baseball when his youngest son started playing Little League ball. He served on the board of directors of the Falls Church Kiwanis Little League, the Annandale Babe Ruth League and the George Mason High School Athletic Boosters Association. In addition to his love of farming, he raised vegetables in his back yard in Falls Church and was well known around Falls Church for his customary attire of farm overalls and baseball hat. He enjoyed canning vegetables and meat, reading cookbooks and cooking and baking. He loved blue grass music and played the banjo. He was a member of the Arlington United Methodist Church.

His marriage to Jacqueline Sowers Rose of Fairfax ended in divorce.

An infant daughter from that marriage, Barbara Allen, died in 1958.

Survivors include his wife of 22 years, Marybeth Martin of Falls Church, four sons from his first marriage, William Robert Rose, IV, of Falls Church, Thomas Reed Rose of Traverse City, Mich., John Lester Rose of Dubai, U.A.E., and Joseph Anthony Rose of Louisa, Va., and one son from his second marriage, Matthew Martin Rose of Falls Church; a sister, Lucy Ann Kidwell of Colonial Beach, Va.; two brothers, Charles Munson Rose of Bealton, Va. and Daniel Newton Rose of Culpeper, Va.; and ten grandchildren.

A fund will be established in Mr. Rose’s memory to provide grants to enable students to participate in sports.