Kate Rose, long time citizen of Mount Vernon and influential volunteer, passed away over the weekend.
Kate, and her husband Dick, raised two sons, Nick and Scott, and she is also survived by four granddaughters.
Kate served as the assistant alumni director and director of parent programs at Coe College for more than 20 years. She retired from that position in 2010.
Kate was also a volunteer for a number of organizations and causes in the Mount Vernon and other surrounding communities.
“She was such a loving, kind, outgoing, charitable friend to many, known and unknown.” Pamela Block wrote.
“She left such an impact on me and the rest of the Trumbull family,” Julie Trumbull Cluse wrote. “Such a huge heart, infectious smile, fierce protector of kids, so much love to share. She definitely made the world a better place.”
She helped run Reading Camp in partnership with the Jane Boyd Community House each summer, with her friend Leslee Sandberg. The program helped disadvantaged kids in Cedar Rapids better develop their reading skills.
Sandberg explained that the camp started as a discussion at a conference they attended for their church in Los Angeles, Calif. One of the groups there had an overnight reading camp to help at-risk children improve their reading, and both she and Rose were intrigued.
“We knew we didn’t want an overnight camp, but we could see doing something similar to help children improve reading scores,” Sandberg said.
The first camp they held helped six to seven kids, all from the Wellington Heights neighborhood of Cedar Rapids.
The duo, after that first year, reached out to Coe College to help partner and allow the camp to be hosted. When that happened, it helped increase membership in the camps per year, as well as provide other opportunities for students to enjoy at the Coe College campus each summer.
“We anticipated that some of these students may want to go to college in the future, and so having it at the college helped them see that could be a reality for them,” Sandberg said.
The camp extended to two weeks, catering to two different groups of students a year over the summer.
While Sandberg did a lot of the running the camp day to day, Kate was influential as the fundraiser and background person who helped find donors and people to help run the camp every year, as well as mentors from area high schools to participate and encourage the readers.
“We always had a few Mount Vernon High School students who took part as mentors in the camp every year,” Sandberg said.
Sandberg said in the 16 to 17 years running the camps, she estimated that she and Kate reached 500 students with the camp.
The duo stepped down from running the camp this past summer, when First Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids took over.
Sandberg said that she and Kate also did a lot of traveling together, across the Midwest, Iowa and Wisconsin.
“We had a lot of adventures and time together,” Sandberg said. “She was my dear, dear best friend, and she will be missed.”
Sandberg also noted that social justice causes were another passion that Kate was influential in, starting a committee in Mount Vernon that catered to those missions.
“I’d call her an ally – not just an anti-racist,” Sandberg said. “She was an advocate for many people dealing with racism and befriended people.”
Sandberg said that Kate’s focus shifted after she retired from Coe to help in Mount Vernon.
“During her time at Coe, she was working on issues related to Coe College and spent a lot of time there,” Sandberg said. “When she retired, she said she was going to devote more time to the community of Mount Vernon, and that’s what she did.”
Kate was also the president and board member of the Mount Vernon Lisbon Community Development Group.
MVLCDG president Joe Jennison said one of the first projects he remembers Kate spearheading was the Zip Code Day event in the community of Mount Vernon.
“She was very influential in that event May 23, 2014, and organizing the activities for the day,” Jennison said.
Jennison defined her as tenacious, and someone who would follow up on the great ideas she heard in meetings to make sure they were pursued.
“That happened with Zip Code Day,” Jennison said. “It also happened with the Smithsonian Project in the community, which was another huge undertaking she believed we should pursue.”
Kate was also a big advocate for the Main Street Iowa Awards, cheering the group on for many of their awards. Kate went on to serve as president of the organization for two years before rolling off the board in 2021.
“She was a big part of CDG, and her loss is going to be felt,” Jennison said. “She was one of the volunteers that really took the time to check in on me and make sure I was being taken care of.”
Jennison said she was one of the people who helped make him a formal city employee with the City of Mount Vernon for his work, to make sure he had adequate pay and benefits for his position.
“She has made a huge difference in my life,” Jennison said. “She was a good, strong board member and great friend. It’s a huge loss to the community”
Kate was also an active volunteer with Exploring Inclusive Communities, a group working to make Mount Vernon a more inclusive space.
She was also a member of the Mount Vernon-Lisbon chapter of the League of Women Voters.
She also served on the board of Southeast Linn Community Center and was influential in many pop-up food pantries and the creation of the Food For Thought committee in Mount Vernon.
“Kate was a dedicated SELCC Board member and officer who will be terribly missed,” said Nicole McAlexander, director of SELCC. “She had a deep passion for serving the community. Kate was instrumental in forming the Food for Thought committee, which brought together people from all corners of the community to combat hunger in innovative ways. Kate had a true gift for making connections and recognizing the value of every individual in our community.”
“We will miss her terribly and will always remember her and the impact she made in our lives. “ Jean Lehman wrote on Facebook.
“Her compassion for others, her strong moral conviction, and her capacity to love so deeply, inspired me and so many,” wrote Kristin Huston on a Facebook page. . “Her’s was a life of creating meaning, working for necessary change, and making everyone feel like they mattered.”
A memorial service is being planned for Kate to be held at the Lester Buresh Family Community Wellness Center later this month.