Hundreds gather to pay respects to beloved Rose

ARLINGTON -- President George W. Bush spoke on Monday about meeting Edward W. "Rusty" Rose for the first time back in 1989.

"Richard Rainwater suggested that Rusty and I become co-general partners of the Texas Rangers Baseball team, which we were in the process of buying," Bush said in paying final respects to his former business partner and longtime friend. "We met at an empty Men's Grill at Brookhollow. Gregarious George meets Reticent Rusty.

"The mating dance got off to a slow start. I told Rusty I loved baseball and was pursuing a dream of owning a team. I said, 'Do you like baseball, Rusty?' He said, 'No.' He went on to say he had never been to a game. Thankfully, Rusty had a curious mind and an adventurous spirit. Thus began a close friendship."

Bush, who headed the group that owned the Rangers from 1989-98, was among hundreds of people who not only filled the Highland Park Methodist Church sanctuary but also watched on closed-circuit television in other parts of the building to pay respects to one of Dallas' most respected and beloved philanthropists, conservationists and businessmen.

Rose, former managing general partner of the Rangers, passed away at the age of 74 on Friday night after a long battle with depression. Included in the overflow were Rangers players, coaches and executives who remembered a man who was an integral part of an ownership group that led the franchise toward financial stability, baseball success and national respect.

Former Commissioner Bud Selig considered Rose a close friend. Commissioner Rob Manfred worked closely with Rose back in 1994 on the revenue-sharing plan that was eventually adopted by Major League Baseball and the Players Association.

Rose was also close to his players. Will Clark, Larry Hardy and Jeff Russell were among many who spent time with him outdoors and away from the ballpark.

Bush, Rose and Tom Schieffer had never met each other before being thrown together by Rainwater and former Commissioner Peter Ueberroth back in 1989. But the three of them formed a close friendship that lasted beyond Bush leaving the group in 1994 to run for governor of Texas and the team being sold to Tom Hicks in 1998.

Craig Stapleton was among that group, and he was in Europe this weekend when he heard that Rose passed away. The former ambassador to France and the Czech Republic flew back to the United States to join so many other family members, friends, business associates and others on Monday.

"I am pretty confident that Rusty would be startled, perplexed, by today's turnout," Bush said. "Interesting group of friends gathered here. There are golfers, tennis friends, bird-watching friends and bird-shooting friends … fishing friends, hog killers, deer skinners.

"There are baseball friends, gin players and some gin drinkers. Art patrons, ranchers and conservationists. Fashion experts, stock pickers, some short, some long. Intellectuals, mentees and politicians … something Rusty was not.

"It's obvious Rusty had many interests. He pursued them all with an intensity and drive toward excellence, and he loved to share those interests with like-minded people who were captivated by his brilliant mind and kind soul."

Rose was survived by his wife Deedie and his children Lela and William, daughter-in-law Catherine, son-in-law Brandon Jones and five grandchildren. Both children spoke at the service.

"He, along with my mother, has been my hero," Lela said. "He often spoke how he never owned things, but he was their steward instead. We were the stewards of [the family ranch], and it would outlive us and we would need to take care of it. He felt money should be used responsibly to do greater good for the community and those in need, rather than enriching heirs. His conviction and integrity were exemplary."

"I have so many great memories of my father," Will said. "I will always remember Rusty as a teacher and a coach and a mentor to me, Lela and his grandchildren. Dad always wanted to bring out the best in us regardless of our objectives. He was generous with his time, his money and with his passion. Even though he could be a difficult taskmaster, he taught us all valuable lessons, and I always admired my father's willingness to sit down with anyone seeking his advice without asking anything in return."

Bush closed the eulogies by speaking of Rose's love for his family.

"He spoke with great pride about Will's financial acumen and successes," Bush said. "He glowed when discussing Lela's thriving fashion line. He loved his grandchildren, and my hope for you all is that you realize your granddad was one helluva man.

"Finally, Deedie was central to his life, as the children testified. And Deedie, we thank you for the example you set, an example of courage, patience, endurance and steadfastness. May God bless you and may God bless Rusty Rose."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.