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LeBARON: Salute to an Olympic legend born, raised in Healdsburg

Every four years, when the Summer Olympics roll around, we tell Olympic tales. (Winter, not so much. We don't have a lot of ski jumpers with hometown connections.)

The fact that the games are in London this year is the perfect opportunity to retell one of the great Sonoma County Olympic stories of all time.

That would be the account of the brief but significant life of Ralph Waldo Rose.

It was Dan Murley who reminded us of the Rose legend — a story that has, indeed, assumed legendary proportions. A retired state parks ranger, Murley spent seven years as curator of the Healdsburg Museum. That's where he "met" Rose.

A dedicated sports fan, he was intrigued by the stories of Rose's athletic achievements — and of his tragic death in 1913, at age 29, of typhus.

Rose also, as Murley learned, had a role in the global politics of 1908.

That aspect of the story resonates now, as London gets ready for the grand entrance of the participating nations.

For a column he writes for several newspapers, Murley compiled a historical sketch of Rose. He sent a copy along to me and, because he has done the hard work, let's let Murley explain why Ralph Rose matters.

"A GENTLE GIANT," he calls him. And "a landmark figure" in the history of Healdsburg. Indeed, we can make a "landmark" case far beyond Healdsburg. For two continents — at least.

He was born in Healdsburg in 1885. His mother, Martha Rose, ran the family household on Center Street. His father, John Wesley Rose, was an attorney and judge, much respected.


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