The name Rose is almost synonymous with Catalina Island and Southern California in many ways. Leonard John Rose III grew up on Catalina, following in footsteps of his namesakes, his father and grandfather.
But John Rose followed his own path. He left Catalina for college, followed by a career in dentistry. The only real constant in his life, and the biggest love of his life, was his family.
Leonard John Rose III, known more casually as John, died on May 6, 2021 at the age of 84.
He left behind a wife, of almost 62 years, three children and six grandchildren. It was those family members who most encapsulated John, his son Brent said. Whatever else John accomplished or did was just a sidebar to his family.
“He loved his family and my mom, more than anything else on this planet,” Brent said.
As a dentist, John was a pioneer in cosmetic dentistry, according to Brent. He was an avid golfer and loved being on his boat and fishing. He lived a full life and his family was always a part of it.
John graduated from Avalon School, before going off to UC Santa Barbara, and San Francisco Dental School. He settled on the mainland, living inland early and in Huntington Beach later. But it was Catalina that again gave him his greatest gift.
On a summer trip to Avalon, he met Carolyn Jean Atkinson. According to Brent, it was love at first sight. Brent said his father told him Carolyn was the love of his life frequently, until the day he was gone.
“He would show me the exact spot on the sea wall he first laid eyes on her,” Brent said.
By the time Brent and his sisters, Kelly, Terri were young children in the ’80s, John had rediscovered his love of Catalina. He purchased his first boat, which gave way to the last boat he would own, the “Bed of Roses.” Frequent trips to the island became a family event. Brent said that even though he never lived on Catalina, he felt as though he grew up on the island.
“I wasn’t raised there, but I was raised by one of the most loving people I have ever known who showed me and his family his love of the island,” Brent said. “It’s a place that will always be held deep in our hearts.”
John loved his work in dentistry, working into his 70s. Brent said that he was the kind of guy who call family members out of the blue and frequently, just to chat and see how things were going. And he could be gregarious. If there was a party going on, it was always obvious if John was in attendance because of his sense of humor and presence. And in his presence, he like to have his family and friends.
“He was a husband, dad, ‘Papa’ and friend to those that had the pleasure to know him,” Brent said.