Mayor G. R. (Rollie) Rose

1989-1993

Mayor Rollie Rose

G. R. (Rollie) Rose was born in New Westminster in 1933. He worked in virtually every aspect of the newspaper business starting as a Vancouver Sun paper boy. By the time he was 14, he was a circulation sub-manager and was soon helping man a Sun office taking classified ads after which he began covering high school sports. Still in high school he began working Saturdays in the sports department as a cub reporter. This gave him the opportunity to work with some big names in sports writing; sports editor, Andy Lytle, writer Merv Peters and Al Fotheringham who was to become a national columnist.

By 1948 Rollie was working summer relief in the New Westminster Sun office and when it was time to return to school, he continued working in the office from 4 PM to midnight, attending school during the day. When one of his teachers suggested he either quit work or quit school, he quit school and in December, 1949 took a full time job writing sports for the New Westminster Columbian. Rollie recalled that this was the best job in the world for a young fellow, recalling his years travelling with the New Westminster Royals Hockey team and the New Westminster Junior Salmonbellies Lacrosse team.

In 1957, Rollie married Helen Horodyski. They were to have four children; Jerome born in 1958, Colin in 1960, Sharon in 1962 and Cathy in 1964.

Rollie continued gaining experience working for various newspapers. He worked on the sports desk of the Vancouver News Herald, the Columbian and as assistant sports editor for the Vancouver Province as well as assistant photo editor for the Vancouver Sun.

Growing tired of urban dailies and looking for a good place to raise children, Rollie began looking for a job on a weekly newspaper. In 1965 he became editor of the Salmon Arm Observer and after a short stint back at the Province became editor of the Campbell River Upper-Islander turning this paper into an award winning publication.

He then turned the Prince George Progress into a successful weekly but left when owner; Ben Ginter overrode his objections and changed it to a daily. In 1970 he became editor of the Port Alberni Valley Times but when the paper was sold to a chain Rollie left and in July, 1974 he bought The Ladysmith – Chemainus Chronicle and expanded it into a publishing business with nearly 50 employees. Business blossomed and he bought the Parksville-Qualicum Beach Advertiser followed by the Oak Bay Star in 1980 selling it after only one year.

As the business grew, Rollie found he had far less time to spend on his first love, editing and writing. Also, in the early 80’s the Canadian economy soured. Reluctant to go into debt to finance new business expenditures, Rollie sold Island Publishers to Caribou Press in February, 1984. Too young to retire at 51, Rollie decided to remain with the company for awhile and planned to continue his association with Island Publishers as a consultant. He had built up an impressive record. The Chronicle at the time of the sale had won 28 national and/or provincial awards, among them the best newspaper in its class in Canada two years previously and for the past four years, best in its class in BC.

Rollie firmly believed that a reporter should be unbiased in regard to any political party or group. After retirement he did get involved in local politics serving as an Alderman on Ladysmith council for two years before running for Mayor in the November, 1988 election. The two candidates in the race were Rollie and Alderman Wolf Raabe. Incumbent Mayor, Alex Stuart had decided not to run for a third term. Rollie won by an overwhelming majority, receiving 912 votes to 312. His priorities were to finish work on the town’s Expo Legacy Site and to get on with waterfront development even though the previous year, as an alderman, he had voted in favour of putting a moratorium on such development for an indefinite period. He also wanted to get Extended Care in Ladysmith by going through the private sector. He was already the Ladysmith Representative on the Central Island Community Futures Committee and wanted to continue efforts to spark economic development in the town. The many contacts he had made during his journalism career, he felt would be useful in bringing investors to Ladysmith. Rollie served as Mayor of Ladysmith for five years

A sampling of other public duties which Rollie performed was Vice Chairperson of the Cowichan Foundation, Director of the Nanaimo Airport, Ladysmith representative on the board of the Cowichan Valley Regional District on the Finance committee, the regional hospital board, and the select committee on Burleith Arm (negotiating limits on log storage).

For many years he was involved with the BC-Yukon Community Newspapers Association, serving as President in 1982 where he represented the association in early meetings held to discuss the formation of the Press Council. He later became an Executive Director on the BC Press Council which handles complaints charged against member papers. The Council does not have to hold many formal hearings largely due to the behind the scenes efforts of Rollie in fielding the many complaints he gets every month.

In May of 2011, Rollie was awarded the Eric Dunning Integrity Award by the BC and Yukon Community Newspaper Association for his years of service. Still very much involved in public affairs, in August, 2011 Rollie was appointed by the staff of the Town of Ladysmith to a three person committee to review the pay scale for members of the council.