Opinion

Mr. Rose’s Island | Editorial

It is a curse of growing old. Whatever you accomplished in your youth or the prime of your life often becomes lost and insignificant, or worse, irrelevant. Those in the present are often uninterested in the past and or whether or not actions made then set the stage for the here and now. Yet the contribution of Lawrence Rose, aka Larry Rose, who died late last month at the age of 90, to this Island city cannot be dimmed by the passing of time.

Mr. Rose was a former journalist and California resident when he accepted a job here in 1975 to become just the second city manager of Mercer Island. Among the key projects undertaken in his 11-plus years leading the city was the acquisition of land from the school district for the Community Center property, procuring the first computers for City Hall and the establishment of Youth and Family Services as a permanent part of city government. (It wasn’t all wonderful, of course. Viewed from today’s vantage point, the land swap with Farmers New World Life Insurance and the city hall property that he shepherded through might seem a bit unfortunate.) Along the way he served on various regional as well as civic projects — perhaps most surprisingly, serving as the chair of the I-90 Artworks Committee that integrated art into the I-90 corridor across the Island after the replacement of the floating bridge in 1993. It remains with us today — from the boat launch to the adornments on the Park on the Lid through the Sculpture Park on Sunset Highway in the center — the emphasis on art on our Island can be traced in large part to Mr. Rose.

Every editor of the Mercer Island Reporter knew Mr. Rose well. Soon after a new editor was named, it was his business to stop by and let you know just who he was and what he thought. He read every word in this and many other newspapers and remained well acquainted with the foibles of the world around him. He often contributed his thoughts to the newspaper; his last letter published in these pages just this past January regarding the controversy about anti-Israel advertisements on Metro buses.

Mr. Rose was ahead of his time in championing the arts, setting aside a place for the community to gather and institutionalizing the idea that a place is only as good as the care it takes of all its citizens. They are ideas that have stood the test of time.

The Mercer Island School District Board of Directors did not select a new board member to replace Lisa Strauch Eggers at its last meeting. Their process to find a new board member has turned out to be very different than what happened when the City Council looked for a replacement for Steve Litzow when he was elected to the State Legislature. His departure brought 18 or so applicants, several of whom were excellent candidates. The City Council was able to come to an agreement on a candidate in one session. Yet only two applied for the school seat. Both candidates seem worthy and notably, very keen on the job and serving the community. Now there is opportunity for more to come forward. The issues facing the school district are critical and complex. But taking more time to make the choice is a good move.

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