Times’ correspondent Colene Rose celebrates 90th birthday with friends, family at Smith Chapel

Photo above, left: This photo of Colene Pitcock Rose and her husband, Bill Ed, is believed to have been taken sometime in the 1950s. They were married Jan. 11, 1952. Bill Ed died in 2010. Colene celebrated her 90th birthday on May 2. Photo above, right: Colene Rose is surrounded by family members in the photo, pictured left to right, grandson Chris McGee and his wife Brittany, granddaughter Casey McGee, great-granddaughter Khloe, son Paul Rose and great-grandson Jaxon McGee.

Colene Pitcock Rose celebrated her 90th birthday Sunday with more than 70 relatives and friends at Smith Chapel church of Christ, the little country church near Zanoni she has lived near and attended all her life. The party was held following the regular Sunday service with several cousins and friends in attendance, along with her son, Paul Rose, and grandchildren Casey and Chris McGee, Chris’ wife Brittnay and their children Khloe and Jaxon, Colene’s great-grandkids.

In a place where Colene has baked cakes and brought food for dozens of potluck dinners, church gatherings and Morrison family reunions all her life, she was guest of honor at a celebration just for her, complete with birthday cake and singing. 

She was born May 2, 1932, in a home just around the bend on N Highway, the only child of the late Floyd and Vergie Morrison Pitcock. No longer owned by Colene’s family, home south of Smith Chapel is familiarly known as the “pink house” to area residents. It’s named for the color of the stucco that was applied decades ago by Tonie Jenkins; the house has never been painted, but its pink color remains true.

Colene’s dad taught at the one-room Nebraska School about a mile and a half from the Pitcocks’ home near Zanoni. She and her dad walked to school together every day throughout her eight years as a student there. She graduated from Gainesville High School in 1949. She didn’t a miss a day of school throughout her 8 years in grade school or her four years in high school.

After high school, she and her friend Ella Jean Hawkins (Watson) found jobs in town. Colene worked for her Uncle Gar Amyx in his Maytag store on the Gainesville square, and Ella Jean worked at the ASCS.

While employed in Gainesville, Colene became acquainted with a handsome young World War II veteran, Bill Ed Rose, who “kept coming into town” from his family’s farm. “We kind of got together that way,” Colene said.

They were married Jan. 11, 1952, in Mountain Home, Arkansas, and spent their whole married life together in Ozark County. For almost every day of her 90 years, Colene has lived within about a mile of the house where she was born. 

After their marriage, she and Bill Ed moved into a house just north of Smith Chapel. While Bill Ed farmed, Colene continued to work in town. She became a secretary and then a case worker at the welfare office. Next, she worked at Gainesville Schools, retiring after 25 years as a secretary for the principal and then the superintendent. Her next job was as Zanoni postmaster, a position she held for another 14 years.

She and Bill Ed had two children, Carma, born in 1958, and Paul, born in 1961. Carma and her husband, Greg McGee, had two children, Casey and Chris. Tragically, Carma died of cancer in 1996. Afterward, the Roses cared for Casey and Chris, and the family enjoyed several vacations in their van, traveling out west to Wyoming, Colorado, the Grand Canyon and other scenic sites.

In 2007, the Roses sold the land they had owned in the valley around Smith Chapel and moved to a new house they built on Zanoni ridge, near the little post office that Colene’s cousin, the late Classie Shanks, had built for it toward the end of her 39 1/2 years as Zanoni postmaster – and where Colene later worked as postmaster. The original post office was located in the general store in the village of Zanoni a few miles east. The Zanoni post office closed in 2017.

Colene has also been the Ozark County Times’ Zanoni correspondent for several years. 

Bill Ed died in 2010 at age 89 and is buried in Smith Chapel Cemetery, which Colene serves as treasurer and Paul helps manage, carrying on the family tradition of her parents, who served as cemetery caretakers for decades.

Sunday’s birthday party was the first one Colene can remember having, except maybe as a young girl, she said, laughing and then adding, “I don’t know where the years have gone.” 

But while birthday parties aren’t an every-year thing for Colene, another tradition continues. She and life-long friend Bobby Grisham share the same birthday day, one year apart. Every year, they each try to be first to call the other one early on May 2 to say, “Happy birthday.” This year, Bobby won the contest, Colene said, laughing again. “He called Friday because he said he was going to be out of town on Sunday.”

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