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Tom Rose dies at 82

Long-time Sierra Club member and conservationist Tom Rose died Thursday of brain cancer. He was 82 years old.

Rose's influence as an environmentalist and economist touched many in the Rogue Valley, but his most memorable legacy will most likely be his work to protect the Middle Branch of the East Fork of Ashland Creek.

Rose hiked into the Middle Branch area on Mount Ashland and found a place he wanted to save.

"When he went up into the Middle Branch area, it seemed like a place no one knew about," said Tom Dimitre, chair of the Rogue Group Sierra Club.

In 1988, Rose and other members of the local Sierra Club fought a ski area expansion on the south side of Mount Ashland. In 1991, the U.S. Forest Service approved an expansion on the west side of the ski area &

another project Rose fought to stop.

For Rose's friends and family, he was a gentle person who fought tenaciously for what he believed in. His enthusiasm for saving the Middle Branch was contagious, friends said. Currently, people hike the area on a regular basis.

"Now, 15 years later, it's amazing how many people are involved and want to save that area," Dimitre said.

Rose was born in Los Angeles and spent most of his life in California before moving to Ashland in 1986. The move to a smaller town surrounded by mountains led him to a more intimate relationship with wilderness, said his wife, Donna Rose.

"He wanted it to be used wisely so that the really special places would be preserved," Rose said.

Rose worked as an engineer and research director for a community college before retiring in Ashland. He held degrees in engineering, science and economics and was instrumental in bringing the financial issues of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area to the forefront, Dimitre said.

"If it wasn't for him, the finances wouldn't be an issue," Dimitre said.

Rose was a skier (both downhill and Nordic) and hiker who loved to explore.

"He recognized, especially with Mount Ashland, what a unique area it was," Donna Rose said.

This summer, the Sierra Club recognized Rose for 50 years of membership. Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, also recognized Rose for his work protecting Mount Ashland.

While Rose's battles were tenacious, his friends remembered him as a gracious, kind and gentle person.

He loved music, other languages and people in general, Donna Rose said.

Eric Navickas, an environmental activist who filed a lawsuit against the Forest Service for its approval of a ski area expansion, remembered Rose as a gracious environmentalist who cared about people as much as he loved his mountains.

"He was a real gentle and sensitive person," Navickas said.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 227 or .