The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

December 18, 2006

Beloved Cousin Josh dies at 78

George Rose known for colorful radio character

Local radio personality George Rose once told former News Courier reporter Charlotte Fulton, “We try to get a lot of fun out of life. You might as well; it’s not going to last too long anyway.”

Rose, 78, who died Saturday after a five-year battle with leukemia, always said “we” when including both himself and his alter ego, “Cousin Josh.”

Except that Cousin Josh, a character borne of Rose’s need to blame someone for his poor pronunciation when trying to read illegible handwriting in listeners’ letters on air, would not have cared much for such high falutin’ words as “alter ego.”

Not that Rose, a.k.a. Cousin Josh, wasn’t a learned man. He once referred in a commercial to the artistic talents of Athens Aluminum Company as “the Michelangelos of Salem.”

Born July 14, 1928, in Limestone County, Rose’s family says he was the longest-running radio disc jockey in Alabama, a veteran of 57 years on the air. He attended West Highland Baptist Church and still worked most days at WKAC, according to station co-owner Joyce Casey.

Rose’s daughter, Dixie Rose Harrison, said Monday that her father’s acute mylogenous leukemia suddenly worsened at mid-week.

“He had gone to Huntsville Hospital and they began chemotherapy at 11 p.m.,” Harrison said. “He had two really good days, and Friday night he told us to go home because he felt so much better. At 10 a.m. Saturday, when my mother got to the hospital, he was gasping for breath. It really was disarming, scary really. He seemed to be doing so much better.”

Rose’s funeral will be at 11 a.m. today at Spry Funeral Home with James P. Adams, Terry Jackson and Andy Collier officiating. Burial will be in Athens City Cemetery.

Joyce Casey of WKAC said she had worked with Rose since 1974, but had known him since the 1950s.

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