Kentucky philanthropist passes away

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

Jim Rose may have wanted others to think he was just like any other Kentuckian, but he wasn't.

"What he did, he made Kentucky better," said Rose's friend, Gregg Thornton.

The 73-year-old's death even drew the condolences from Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, "Jim Rose was a good friend and I will always remember his passion and love for the Bluegrass State, particularly the University of Kentucky basketball program. Elaine and I send our condolences to his wife, Judy, and their children."

Rose got his start in the late 50s with a jump-start coal company, and by his retirement in 1993, thanks to his hard work, the company was one of the top three coal producers in the state. Along the way, Rose took up banking, and had branches all over Kentucky.

"He was a man that knew something about everything," described Thornton. "He could operate a bulldozer and he could run a bank like nobody else."

Thornton says few will ever know what all Rose truly accomplished, "because he wouldn't talk about a lot of the things he's done."

Thornton says Rose was a very generous man, funding projects like the expansion at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital.

"Judy was the primary driving force behind the family's involvement at Cardinal Hill, but Jim was always there in the background supporting whatever Judy wanted to do," recalled Thornton.

Rose was also very proud to invest in the future of Kentucky students by backing the Lexington Christian Academy.

"He used to always say, 'Long after I'm gone, I want LCA to be a place that kids can come and learn and get a top education,'" said Thornton.

It was there at LCA, where the campus is named after Rose, that he suffered his heart attack while watching his grandson play basketball.

"It was pretty shocking," said Thornton of the death of his friend, "the last time I talked to him was on his birthday, last week."

Rose's passing on Monday night was tough for everyone close to the 73-year-old philanthropist, but Thornton summarized Rose by saying he was proud to be from Eastern Kentucky and loved being able to do things that would help so many people.

Rose is survived by his wife, Judy Sizemore Rose, his son, James Rose, daughter, Sonya Rose Hiler, eight grandchildren, and three step-grandchildren.

The visitation for Rose will be from 1 to 6 P.M. on Thursday at Lexington Christian Academy. The funeral service will begin at six, following the visitation.

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