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Thursday, November 17, 2005 | Finding the Rose within the cemetery rows took some time and research, but after nearly 50 years, an unmarked grave was finally recognized Wednesday with a proper headstone, a small ceremony and public acknowledgement of distinguished service to a community.
Henrietta Rose, daughter of San Diego’s first Jewish settler and pioneer Louis Rose, was born in 1872 and became a schoolteacher in 1895, teaching English and Spanish. She first taught at Roseville Elementary School in Point Loma, where her father founded the Roseville settlement. She later taught at the former Middletown Elementary School, Sherman Elementary School and Roosevelt Junior High School.
Never marrying, Henrietta retired from teaching in 1940, after 45 years in education. When she died in 1957 at the age of 84, she had no relatives and was buried in an unmarked grave at San Diego’s Mt. Hope Cemetery by friend Ethel Lyman, whose family custom was not to mark burial sites with gravestones.
In the course of their research on Henrietta’s father, Louis Rose Society co-founders Norman Greene and Donald Harrison discovered her fate, found her grave and decided to make amends for history’s oversight by honoring Henrietta with recognition and a tombstone featuring brief biographical information as well as four emblems now associated with her achievements.
“We are here to correct an historic error,” said Greene at the graveside service. “This will help ensure her place in San Diego history.”
Representing the San Diego Unified School District’s Board of Education was trustee John de Beck, who called himself the “self-proclaimed historian” of the school board. He facilitated the inclusion of the San Diego City Schools logo on the headstone and said the school board passed a resolution a few weeks ago honoring Henrietta’s long years of service as a San Diego teacher.
After the service, de Beck said, “It was fun to participate in a little piece of history.” Saying “this was the past coming together,” he noted that Henrietta’s first school as a teacher, Roseville, later became Cabrillo in Point Loma where he attended school as a child. De Beck represents that area as part of his sub-district on the school board. “Our paths were separated by distance and time,” he said.
Terry Pesta, president of the San Diego Education Association, also spoke at the service and commented that he, too, shared a personal connection with Henrietta, because he, like her, was a teacher at Sherman Elementary School in Sherman Heights. He called the school his second home, saying, “I spent 23 years at Sherman.” Pesta said he was proud to have the SDEA logo on her tombstone.
The third logo on the plaque is the emblem of the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic organization to which Henrietta belonged. In 1901, she led the La Paloma Chapter and was its “worthy matron,” according to Liz Moffat, a past matron. “We are Henrietta’s family,” Moffat said at the unveiling service.
The fourth logo on the headstone is that of the Louis Rose Society, a group formed in March 2005 whose mission is to preserve and document San Diego Jewish history and the legacy of San Diego County Jews.
The Rose organization evolved after Harrison wrote a book on Rose titled “Louis Rose: San Diego’s First Jewish Settler and Entrepreneur,” which was published last year. According to Harrison, Louis Rose became an important figure in the development of the city and county after his arrival in San Diego in 1850. Rose also helped establish the Jewish community, organized the first synagogue and created a Jewish cemetery and burial society.
Rose’s contributions, according to the Louis Rose Society Web site, included starting San Diego’s first tannery in the area now known as Rose Canyon, laying out the town site of Roseville in the Point Loma area, and serving on the city Board of Trustees, the county Board of Supervisors, the San Diego school board and the county grand jury.
The plaque at the unveiling was designed by Karman Ltd. of Los Angeles, and the stone supporting the plaque was donated by KRC Rock of Lakeside. The combined weight for the headstone is 1,200 pounds.
Also attending the service was San Diego resident Jean Woodward, 80, whose father was principal at Roosevelt when Henrietta taught there.
Harrison’s friend Muriel Goldhammer, who now lives in Israel, was a student of Henrietta’s when she taught at Roosevelt. Goldhammer, Harrison said, told him the students used to tease their teacher with a song she still remembers: “Henrietta sat on a tack; Henrietta Rose!”
At the conclusion of the service Rabbi Scott Meltzer of Ohr Shalom Synagogue praised Henrietta’s contributions to students and the community, and honored her as a member of the first Jewish family in San Diego. He recited a Jewish prayer for teachers that blessed those individuals “who toil and help to bring wisdom into the world.” He then chanted the traditional Jewish memorial prayer, El Moleh Rachamim.
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