Billy Rose, the oldest of six brothers and sisters, enlisted in the Air Force after graduating from Big Creek High School in May of 1960.
Billy Rose married Rose Marie Barber of Welch, WV and had one daughter, Sherry Ann.
After graduating college in 1968, Billy moved to the east coast where he worked in the defense industry in the suburbs of the cites of Philadelphia, Tampa, and Washington, DC.
He later found a job designing electronic components and systems for a manufacture of coal mining equipment in Bluefield, Va., where he still lives today.
Billy is currently the Senior Engineer for American Mine Research in Rocky Gap, Virginia.
You may contact Billy at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Billy Rose's Biography
Written By: Billy Rose
I was named Willie Rose but everyone called me called Billy until graduation from Big Creek High School in 1960.
Upon entrance into the military, my birth certificate showed to my surprise that I was really Willie, not Billy, Rose and now I am called by either name, usually depending on when people met me.
Both of my parents, Arnie Bee and Beulah Mae "Boots" Rose, are dead now.
They lived in Letcher County, Kentucky prior to moving to Six, West Virginia in 1943.
Six is just up the road from Coalwood, between Coalwood and Caretta.
My parents grew up during the "depression" in our country.
My father's parents split up when he was twelve and he grew up living with his older brothers.
He did not attend school and began working in the coal mine at the age of thirteen.
My mother's parents died when she was in the fourth grade.
She lived with her brothers and sisters and did not continue in school.
They grew up together and survived that terrible time in our country.
MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS
I am the oldest of six brothers and sisters.
Christine "Teen", lives in Florida.
Marcus "Markey" lives in Kentucky.
Linda lives in Maryland.
Evelyn died at the age of eighteen of an enlarged heart.
Kenneth Richard lives in Idaho.
Terry Lynn lives in Texas.
TRIBUTE TO TEACHERS
I owe a great deal to teachers and school administrators because they helped me during a difficult period of my life.
With the help of educators, kind people in the communities where I lived, and even politicians, and with some luck in making the right decisions at the right time, I was able to pull myself out of poverty by my own boot straps.
TOUGH TIMES AT HOME
Even during good times when the miners worked 5 and 6 days a week, we still had it rough.
My father was an alcoholic and, like many coal miners, spent his income on things other than his family.
During grade school and Jr. high school, I received plenty of help from kind and caring teachers at Coalwood Jr. High School.
Mr. Likens, the principal bought me clothes, probably out of his pocket.
I worked in the cafeteria to pay for my lunch.
Many of the teachers (Mrs. Mahoney in particular) let me work in and around their homes to earn money to help myself and my family.
In 1957, I entered Big Creek H.S. and my father quit his job.
He had been crushed in pelvic area at the age of 20 while working in the mines in Kentucky.
He was not expected to walk, but he recovered and worked as long as he could bear the pain.
Because he no longer worked, we had to move from a nice section of Coalwood to a another part of town.
Our electricity was cut off and I had to study using kerosene lamps.
Teachers and administrators at Big Creek H.S. also recognized my plight and made it easier for me by allowing me to work in the cafeteria for my lunch.
Coaches Merrill Gainer and Carl Mams took interest in me and encouraged me to join the football team.
ALMOST QUIT HIGH SCHOOL
There are a few decisions and events in a person's life that determine the course he or she will take.
One such decision in my life was made my junior year.
Things were really bad at home.
Football season was over and I was now old enough to quit high school and join the Navy.
Mr. Turner did not want me to quit school and convinced me to wait one week to make my final decision.
He told me he would make arrangements to help me.
Because he showed concern and was kind and got personally involved in my life during that difficult period, I will eternally be grateful.
JOINED THE AIR FORCE
I graduated from high school May 26, 1960.
I was in the Air Force five days later.
Jimmie O'dell Carroll and I enlisted in the Air Force together.
We both were disappointed because we could not go to college.
I received my basic training at Lackland AF Base in Texas.
I then went to Keesler AF Base in Mississippi to study air borne radio and radar systems.
After a year in school, I went to my permanent base, K.I. Sawyer AF Base in Michigan. K. I. Sawyer was a Strategic Air Command (SAC) with long range B52 bombers.
I maintained the "Hound Dog" air to ground missiles carried under the wing of the bomber.
I liked my work in the Air Force.
I married Rose Marie Barber of Welch, WV and we had a daughter, Sherry Ann.
DECISION TO GO TO COLLEGE
This was the time of the second significant event and decision in my life.
During the Cuban missile crisis, we were on alert for a very long time.
I just happened to be home during the day, getting ready to got the base.
I was watching a talk show hosted by Art Linkletter.
One of his guests was a government official from the Dept. of Education.
He made a statement that caught my attention and changed the course of my life.
He said that any person in this country could go to college.
Congress had just pass the National Student Defense Loan program.
Students could get loans at very low interest rates to go to college and not have to pay the money back until after graduation.
That was my ticket.
The only thing I had to do was get accepted to a college.
I wanted to be an electrical engineer.
I spent 6 months preparing for the ACT tests.
I did very well in all areas except English.
I applied for admission to WVU.
I then received notification that I had been rejected.
I had worked to hard to give up now.
The desire to go to college and become an engineer had been rekindled by the chance viewing of the Art Linkletter Show.
I was not going to be denied.
I did what every good West Virginia citizen does when they need help.
I wrote West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd and Congresswoman Elisabeth Kee.
Very soon I received another letter from West Virginia University.
Not only was I admitted to the School of Electrical Engineering, but I received the National Student Defense Loan and the Claude Worthington Benedum grant to help pay my tuition and books.
Life during college was not a pleasant experience.
I was determined to finish in four years because that was the maximum time I wanted my family to make this kind of sacrifice.
There was no summer break for me.
The normal course load for engineering was 18 to 19 hours per semester.
I took at least two classes during the summer so that I could lighten my course load during the fall and spring semesters.
This allowed me to work at least 20 hours per week to support my family.
Beside every good man is a better woman.
My wife was always there helping me.
She also worked and of course made sacrifices knowing that life would be better after graduation.
She was also there for me emotionally.
At the end of my second year, I got depressed and wanted to quit.
She would not let me leave school.
She told me she had to much time and sacrifice invested in me to let me quit now.
I am grateful that she was strong enough to convince me to stay and get my bachelors degree.
After graduating in 1968, we moved to the east coast where I worked in the defense industry in the suburbs of the cites of Philadelphia, Tampa, and Washington, DC We both agreed that this was not the kind of place we wanted to live and raise our daughter.
I found a job designing electronic components and systems for a manufacture of coal mining equipment.
We moved to Bluefield, Va., about 30 miles from where we both grew up.
We still live there.
Sherry Ann died in 1993.
We have three grandchildren.
Susan Leigh Ann (the oldest), Kristian and Adam.
Susan lives with us.
I recently retired from my job as the Senior Engineer for American Mine Research in Rocky Gap, Virginia.
I am a born-again Christian of ten years and teach Sunday School at Parkview Baptist Church in Bluefield, Virginia.