By Jonathan Deal
Jack Rose was a star in multiple sports before the phrase “two-sport athlete” existed. Rose excelled in both football and basketball, winning state championships at Clements in both sports his senior year.
The late Clements legend will have his name etched into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame Saturday for his achievements on the gridiron and on the hard court.
“He played every sport we had,” said Bill Graham, who was Rose’s football coach at Clements. “He was a star in both sports. The first two years we had a team we won a total of two games. We went undefeated the third year, and he was quarterback.”
Rose led the 1966 team to a 1A state football championship, as voted on by the Birmingham Post Herald. A few months later, Rose and the Clements basketball team won the 1A basketball championship.
“Jack’s behavior and attitude was impeccable,” Graham said. “The tougher things got, the better he played. He had that leadership ability you need on a team.
“He played hard in every game, win or lose. Sometimes you can tell more about a player’s character when you are losing than when you are winning. And he played just as hard when we were losing.”
Rose received All-State honors in both football and basketball, among other accolades that year. He accepted a scholarship to play basketball for Calhoun Community College, where he set records for the best free-throw percentage in 1968-69.
“Clements was a small school, but Jack could have played anywhere,” Graham said. “He was one of those players you wanted on your team. He was a loyal teammate.”
In an era before the Internet, Rose emerged as a star at Clements. He was well-known across the county for his athletic aptitude.
“I was about 11 when Jack was playing (for Clements),” said Neal Rose, Jack’s younger brother. “No matter where I went, if someone ask me what my name was they wanted to know if I was related to Jack. He was widely known back then. My parents were beaming with pride.”
Following an undefeated season with Clements football team, in which the Colts outscored opponents by an average score of 28-4, Rose led the basketball team to a 1A championship in the spring of 1967.
Rose hit two key free-throws at the end of that ’67 championship game that sealed the win for Clements.
“He was known for being really cool and calm,” said Sandra Rose, widow of Jack. “I remember listening on the radio when he hit those shots to win the game. You could hear a pin drop.”
Jack married his high-school sweetheart and soon moved to Germany, following a career in the Army. Thousands of miles from home, Jack never stopped playing ball.
“Any kind of ball, he played it all over there,” Sandra said. “He played on a baseball team and they traveled around. They played different Army bases in Germany.”
Sandra described Jack as a family man who loved nothing more than to spend time with his children and grandchildren. Jack Rose died of cancer in August 2012.
“He told me, during his cancer, he had a bigger battle to fight,” said Sandra, who spent 43 years married to Jack. “I know he suffered more than he did, but he wouldn’t let you know it. He was a very quiet person. He would never tell you all this stuff. He just did it because he loved it and he put his all into it.”