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Helen Rose ’38 dies peacefully at home

Helen Carlotta Rose ’38, Emerson Trustee Emerita, died peacefully at her Palm Beach, Florida, home on March 23.

Rose, who became a Trustee in 1952, majored in speech pathology at Emerson. She later helped raise funds to establish the Robbins Speech, Language and Hearing Center, which is now housed in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. By 1955, Emerson had the largest speech pathology clinic in the Northeast thanks in large part to Rose’s charitable work.


Helen Rose (Courtesy Photo)

“Helen was a wonderful friend of the College—contributing in many ways, both meaningful and long-lasting,” said Emerson President Lee Pelton.

Emerson awarded Rose an honorary master’s degree in 1955 and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1978, as well as an Alumni Achievement Award in 1988.

In 1994, Rose established The Cecil and Helen Rose Ethics in Communication Scholarship, which was the first endowed full-tuition scholarship in Emerson history. Rose, formerly of Newton, Massachusetts, also established the following endowed awards: The Cecil and Helen Rose awards for Forensics, Political Communication, and Advocacy; Oral Interpretation; and Graduate Scholarship, which had an emphasis on political communication and advocacy work. Rose sponsored many conferences around the world on media and ethics, including Celebrity and Spectacle (2000), The Global Rhetorical Phenomenon of the Death of Princess Diana (1998), and Ethics and Docudrama (1994).

“Helen’s life touched many of our lives,” Pelton said. “Through her endowed awards, her generosity and her legacy of love for Emerson will continue. We’ll miss her deeply.”

“Through her endowed awards, her generosity and her legacy of love for Emerson will continue. We'll miss her deeply.”

Rose founded the Speech and Hearing Foundation of Massachusetts in 1961, and served as president for 11 years. She lobbied lawmakers to introduce sign language into the state’s educational curriculum, and the city of Boston named a day in her honor shortly thereafter. Emerson offered the first sign language classes in the Commonwealth.

According to a 1969 Boston Globe article, Rose was passionate about helping people who are deaf, and toured the United States to observe educational programs for the deaf before establishing the Speech and Hearing Foundation, which held special adult courses in general education, vocational training, and recreational fields.

“Noteworthy among the courses…was the postal clerk carrier section,” the article said. “This was the first Civil Service examination course ever held in New England exclusively for deaf applicants.”

Always connected to Emerson alumni by holding various meet-ups throughout the years, Rose is credited with beginning the advocacy group The Friends of the Majestic, a public relations campaign to restore the historic theater, now called the Cutler Majestic Theatre.

Rose also led the charge in fundraising to keep Emerson open when the College experienced financial problems in the 1980s.

In Florida, Rose continued her lifelong advocacy work for various charities.

Rose is predeceased by her husband of 49 years, Cecil S. Rose. Among her survivors are her son, Stuart M. Rose, and his wife, Margie J. Topf; daughter S. Jane Rose and her partner, H. Kent Atkins; and granddaughter Kim Rose and her fiancée, Rachel Belliveau.

According to her Boston Globe obituary, donations in her memory may be made to the Helen Rose Ethics in Political Communication Scholarship, Office of Development and Alumni Relations, Emerson College, 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116-4624.

Funeral services were private.

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