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A tribute to Dad on his 85th birthday

November 9, 2012
By Karen Wils , Daily Press

ESCANABA - It's time to celebrate!

This column is about one of the main reasons why I write about wildlife, camp, nature, history, and the outdoors.

This column is about my dad. Dad, AKA known as Pa, Grandpa, great-grandpa and Jim, is celebrating his 85th birthday today.

Article Photos

Karen Wils photos

Jim Rose will be celebrating his 85th birthday today and sure to be at his side is his No. 1 fan, daughter Karen (Rose) Wils.

I think it goes without saying that my dad is the awesome outdoors man and family man that taught me to love the wild and home fires.

Many a sunrise, river walk, snowshoe trek and beagle run, I have shared with my father.

My whole family - Mom and siblings - spent a lot of time at camp with me when I was younger. But on Saturdays, from the time I was a teen until I was married (in my thirties), Dad and I went in the woods.

Whether I was following Dad along the trout stream or into the swamp to check on deer, we put on many miles together.

So if you enjoy my stories about everything from deer tracks to flying squirrels, and from homemade potato sausage to bird's eye maple, thank my dad.

Dad's story began in Gladstone in 1928. He was born at home up near the head of the Bay, but we don't hold that against him. I'm told that as soon as the "rubber ice" formed on Little Bay de Noc, Dad was out there ice skating half way to Stonington.

Next came the tales of his escapes ice fishing with his brothers. His dad (my grandpa, George Rose) owned the Cornell property from the days before he was married. Grandpa, I'm told, always wanted to farm the land, but it became "camp" instead. It also became my Dad's favorite hunting and fishing grounds.

After my father graduated from high school, it was off to the army for several years. He was in the radio corps and could even make one of those newfangled gadgets with the tubes and dials. The only good thing about being away from the U.P. for Dad was being able to ski in the mountains in California.

In 1955 Dad came to North Escanaba and married my mom. Mom lived at what was the old St. Paul boarding house with eight younger brothers and sisters in her care. Into this busy but beautiful, sometimes chaotic but always caring setting, I was born.

From his workshop in the old store front on the 1400 block of Sheridan Road to the basement workshop on the 1200 block of Sheridan Road, Dad could fix almost anything. And his list of jobs was never ending. From 1959 to almost the last person in the factory before it shut down, Dad was a faithful Harnischfeger employee. He raised six kids, built a camp and then a second one after the first one was vandalized, remodeled each room in the house, and built tons of furniture (especially picture frames for me).

He loves smoked fish, blue cheese, homemade brownies, and pizza on Saturday night. He loves the smell of saw dust and making things out of wood. He knows just about every tree on our property.

Here is a small list of some of the things amazing my Dad has accomplished.

1. Beat mom and Nancy at cribbage

2. Re-upholstered the green recliner

3. Shot a huge buck bigger than the model T in 1945

4. Found wayward beagles in Big Bear Swamp

5. Made decent trout fishermen out of my brother Mark and Dave

6. Duty danced with Mom at every single wedding they ever went to in over 50 years of marriage

7. Sharpened ice skates for almost every kid in northtown

8. Carried hundreds of boxes of my brother Mike's record albums to Michigan State University and up to the top floor of the dorms in 90 degree weather!!

Happy birthday Dad. Let's celebrate. We'll grab a pastie, some brownies and coffee and head to camp.


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.



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