Veteran music teacher John Rose, whose career spanned 40 years, retired at the end of the school year in June and was honored with a surprise retirement party thrown by his family and friends on Sunday, June 29.
Roughly 300 people attended the party in the Hard Rock Café at Bayside, including his wife, Laura, and their children — Rebecca, Johnny and Tori — as well longtime friends and associates and numerous students, past and present.
All had been sworn to secrecy to avoid spoiling the surprise. The plan seemed to work. On arriving, he stopped in his tracks when he saw the sea of familiar faces, then smiled as he realized they were there for him.
“My wife told me we were coming here for a family dinner,” John Rose said later.
The native Miamian dedicated his life to music education but a few years ago had been diagnosed with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
Rose had directed the choral program at Coral Reef Senior High School for the past 15 years and he continued to teach and encourage his students, motivating them not only with his ability and enthusiasm but also his courage. A benefit concert for him took place at the South-Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center in August 2013. Rose and his family arrived at 2:30 p.m. but the party went until 5, with the guest of honor spending much of that time circulating among the crowd of well-wishers. Midway through, a special toast and tribute for Rose was given by Alan Caves, who began as a student of Rose at South Dade High School, became a teacher himself and worked with him for 35 years.
“We are here to celebrate John Rose’s retirement,” Caves said. “The truth is, we know John and he will never retire. John, you will continue to guide us, mentor us and listen to us, and even fix our problems. Today is your day, John. There are many friends and family here to join in this day and share many great memories that you have given to us all.
“You have been so many things to so many people. An incredible teacher, guidance counselor to us all, minister of music in many churches, choral director for many, many choirs, but most of all, you have been the best father, husband, brother, uncle and friend that we could ever hope for.” Caves praised Rose for being a great man, dedicating many years to his students.
Caves pointed out that some had gone on to become opera singers, Broadway performers, choral directors, doctors, lawyers and more.
“But please remember this John, your love of music and your legacy will always live on in each and every one of us. Thank you for the many memories that we share with you. We love you. Here’s to John Rose.”
Rose’s voice, somewhat affected by the progression of the illness, was tinged with emotion as he responded after the toast and the applause that followed.
“I am overwhelmed,” Rose said. “Thank you all for being here. My heart is touched by this and seeing you all. Thank you so much. I want you to know, I think you have given me more than I have given you.”