A longtime first lady known as “Mama Rose,” she was the matriarch of her family, her church and her community
Mahalia Jackson’s rendition of “If I Can Help Somebody” encapsulated Mother Cornelia Elizabeth President Rose’s mission in life and was one of her favorite songs.
“If I can help somebody, as I travel along,
If I can help somebody, in a word or a song,
If I can help somebody, from doing wrong,
Lord, my living shall not be in vain.”
The woman known as Connie P. Rose and “Mama Rose” made her transition on August 6, 2020. She was 96.
In June, she marked what would be her last birthday with a drive-by parade and spoke to everyone from her wheelchair, said her oldest son, Bishop Richard S. Rose II, pastor of Power of Life International Fellowship Church.
Weeks later, she took several trips to the hospital as her health declined. She leaves an indelible legacy through decades of ministry.
Cornelia President was born on June 6, 1924 in St. Louis, Missouri, where she attended business school. She was part of a singing sibling trio called the President Sisters that performed across the country and appeared with gospel greats including Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward.
She was a guest soloist at the National Baptist Convention of America, when she met the Rev. Richard Solomon Rose, a pastor from Cleveland, Ohio. They married six months later in 1954.
That union produced three sons: Bishop Richard S. Rose II, pastor of Power of Life International Fellowship Church (Tawana Rogers Rose); Dr. Reginald C. Rose, pastor of Community Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church (Betty Rose); and Jeffrey E. Rose (Pamela Rose).
The couple moved to Texas in 1964, when the Rev. Richard Solomon Rose was called to lead a church in Houston. In 1967, he founded Greater Northside Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Fifth Ward.
Seeing a need in the community, Connie Rose started the Senior Citizens Center of Greater Northside Houston in 1969, and served as executive director for 49 years. The facility is regarded as the nation’s first adult day care center for seniors and as the pioneering organization for the Meals on Wheels program in Houston, the family said.
“She cared for the hurting, the helpless and the hungry. She was a champion for senior citizens and she was a pillar in the community,” Bishop Richard S. Rose II said. “She loved to laugh. Laughter was like medicine for her. She would always find something to laugh about. Her smile was magnetic. I will miss her singing. She was a songbird.”
Connie Rose earned her master’s degree in music from the Inter-Baptist Theological Seminary of Texas in Houston.
“I will miss everything about her, but most of all her caring spirit,” said Dr. Reginald C. Rose, who became pastor of the former Greater Northside in 2000, when it was renamed Community Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. “She genuinely cared for people and she loved her boys.”
Connie Rose was predeceased in 2003 by her husband of 49 years. In addition to her three sons, she is survived by 16 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
Services for Mother Rose will be held on Friday, August 14, 2020, at two locations. Masks are required. The first viewing will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Community Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, 2500 Campbell Street. A final viewing begins at 6 p.m., the same day, at New Loyalty Baptist Church, 6100 Hirsch Road, where the Celebration of Life will follow at 7 p.m. There will be no repast.
Visit Facebook.com/POLIFCHURCH and facebook.com/communityfmbc for livestreaming of their services.