Bobbie Rose lived the same way in her 80s, her 90s, and even as she passed the 100-year-old threshold — always moving, never stopping, driving herself everywhere, and often working to do her best in her two passions: golf and art.
“I don’t know what the secret is,” she said in a 2014 interview with The Inquirer. “I just know that every day has been wonderful. Numbers have never meant anything to me. … Some of the best times I’ve had, I was 90 and over.”
Louise “Bobbie” Rose, 104, an outstanding athlete who played competitive golf for almost 70 years and excelled at it, died Sunday, Dec. 20, at her home in Meadowbrook after suffering a heart attack. She was one month short of her 105th birthday.
Mrs. Rose played many sports as a young woman. She was named the top athlete at Cheltenham High School for four straight years, participating in swimming, field hockey, tennis and basketball. She took up badminton as a student at Temple and qualified for the national championship one year. She was introduced to bowling at Ashbourne Country Club and quickly increased her average to 180.
But golf became her favorite sport. She took it up in 1947 after her husband, Leon, started to play. That year, she won her first of 13 consecutive club championships at Ashbourne and played at a high level in the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania State Women’s Golf Association tournaments. Her two children, Bonnie George and Michael Rose, became successful amateur golfers.
“Her contemporaries were Dottie Porter and Helen Sigel Wilson,” Michael Rose said, mentioning two of the most accomplished amateurs in Philadelphia women’s golf history. “So she played a lot of golf with legends and, as she got older, she became a legend.”
At 90, Mrs. Rose teamed with her daughter to win the Effie Derr Robey Cup and shot better than her age five times. At 91, she won the 2007 WGAP Class B Super-Seniors championship. She won 11 Griscom Cup championships with her son, and four Mater et Filia titles with her daughter. She shot a 96 on her 99th birthday and was hitting balls at her home course, Philmont Country Club, well past 100.
“When I started, little did I know that golf is an ever-learning game,” she said in 2014, the year she was inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. “You just never learn it. It is so frustrating and aggravating and irritating and beautiful and wonderful, and I knew that would be the game I’d play for the rest of my life.”
Mrs. Rose’s other pastime was art. Her daughter called her “a mixed-media maven.”
“She did everything from jewelry to knitting to sculpture to carving a totem pole to needlepoint,” George said. “She did copper work. She wanted to try everything. That was the most interesting point. She just didn’t do paintings. At 90, she decided she wanted to do welding, and she found a class, and she learned how to weld.”
George said her mother’s zest for life was “inspirational.”
“No grass grew under her feet,” she said. “She was going all the time. She would go to the opera in Philadelphia with two of her really good friends, even in her 90s. She was still going to exercise class in her 90s.”
Rose said his mother was so independent that “we took her for granted sometimes.”
Mrs. Rose credited golf with overcoming her shyness, which led to lasting friendships with those in the sport. Both of her children described her as a positive person who liked people and never had an angry word for anyone.
“Everybody I’ve spoken with has been saying the same thing, ‘She always made me feel good,’” George said.
In addition to her children and their spouses, Mrs. Rose is survived by five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Leon, who died in 1974.
No services are planned. The family said it wants to hold a celebration of her life after the pandemic diminishes. Donations in Mrs. Rose’s memory may be made to the First Tee of Greater Philadelphia, J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust, Women Golfers Give Back Maccabi USA, and the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.