At home in any town
Posted: July 23, 2011
Every summer, Fred and Marion Rose, of Galveston, Texas, pick a city and then do what they can to make it a better and more fun place to live.
This summer that city is Sheboygan and the Roses can be found at Sheboygan A’s games where Fred is the clown and Marion is an usher, among other jobs.
“We do a little bit of everything; whatever they need,” Marion said.
They’ve also been spotted at Above and Beyond Children’s Museum, the Boys and Girls Club, Road America near Elkhart Lake, Harbor Fest and the Midsummer Arts Festival at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.
“We just love helping people,” said Fred, 59. “We volunteer in hopes of making a difference and maybe inspire others to help a neighbor and make a difference too. We don’t have much, but we gladly share what we have.”
The Roses have made summer homes in Portland, Ore., Myrtle Beach and Charleston, S.C., Mobile, Ala., and last year in Memphis, Tenn.
One reason they leave their home in Galveston each year is to escape hurricane season, said Marion, 58.
The Roses, who have been married 36 years, retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2003 and moved from their home in Hartford, Conn., where they had lived for more than 30 years, to Biloxi, Miss.
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck, causing severe destruction along the Gulf Coast from central Florida to Texas.
“We evacuated before the storm and moved to Galveston. And then we caught Rita,” Marion said, referring to Hurricane Rita, which hit Galveston and the Texas coast a month after Katrina.
After the storms they thought about going back to Biloxi, where they had an apartment.
“But there was so much damage we really couldn’t move back there,” Marion said.
The next year, they thought about getting out of town in the spring when hurricane season began and came up with the idea of visiting cities where there are minor league baseball teams.
“We look for a part-time job in a ballpark — like Portland, Mobile, Memphis — and then we send them a letter to see if they’re hiring and we look for a place to stay and then we help out in the community,” Marion said.
“We like baseball, but we’re not huge baseball fans. But we like the ballpark and all the fun and action. It’s a great place to meet people,” Marion said.
On their trips they’ve met actor Bill Murray, who is part owner of the Memphis Redbirds; Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron, who played for the Mobile Bay Bears; the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and they helped build a house for ABC-TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” in Myrtle Beach.
“We’ve always wanted to feel a part of the community wherever we lived,” Marion said. “Every time we were uprooted we felt disconnected. So we just started helping out and found we enjoyed it and met new people. We get a lot of out of it personally, helping and feeling needed.”
They estimate they have traveled more than 60,000 miles and logged at least 25,000 hours of volunteer work in their travels.
They also make huggable toys that they call Dino babies and Dino buddies, which resemble dinosaurs and are made from recycled fabric and stuffed with plastic trash bags.
They give them to children and adults in hospitals and estimate they have given away more than 10,000.
The Roses chose Sheboygan for this summer because their son, Fred Jr., lives in Sheboygan Falls and has an apartment they could rent.
They expect to stay in the area past Labor Day, until hurricane season is over. Then they’ll head back to Galveston where they also work as substitute teachers.
“It’s a healing thing for us to help others,” Fred said.
“They’re wonderful people,” said Denny Moyer, general manager of the Sheboygan A’s. “They called me in the dead of winter and asked if we could put them to work.”
The Roses’ work for the A’s is completely on a volunteer basis, Moyer said.
Besides being a clown and usher, Fred and Marion pitch in wherever they’re needed, Moyer said.
“They’re doing a great job,” he said.
Story by: Dan Benson, Sheboygan Press staff
The Sheboygan A's are members of the Wisconsin State League and Northeastern Wisconsin Baseball League. The A's have helped develop more than 43 players that have reached professional baseball, including 2002 World Series Champion Jarrod Washburn (Anaheim Angels). All Sheboygan A's home games are played at Wildwood Baseball Park in Sheboygan. Connect with the A's on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.