A long-time employee at Gibson’s Music in Corbin is remembered as a vibrant lover of life and a dedicated salesperson who had a lifelong love of the music business.
Helen Harris Rose, of Corbin, died last Friday at her home at the age of 74 after a three-year-long battle with brain cancer.
Betty Comer, owner of Gibson’s Music where Rose was an employee and served as Assistant Manager for 27 years, said the loss is profound.
"Corbin has lost a great presence because she touched a lot of lives," Comer said. "The customers loved her. They would come in and ask for her. She loved the music business and you could tell she was doing something she really enjoyed."
Comer said she hired Rose in 1982 when she moved her music business to its current Main Street location. Before Rose, she only employed family members. She said she hired Rose on the advice of Maggie J’s owner Maxine VonGruenigen.
"She said a good employee will pay for themselves," Comer said. "So I called Helen and asked her if she wanted to work for me. That was one of the best decisions I ever made."
The call proved fortuitous for both Comer and Rose.
Rose had been working in sales for Montgomery-Ward catalog service, but that branch of the retailer was being shut down locally. She needed a job. The timing, for both, could not have been better.
"She was a born salesperson," Comer said, admitting she often purchased catalog items through Rose that she didn’t even need.
Comer characterized hiring Rose as "divine intervention."
Lisa Siler, Rose’s daughter, said her mother made every effort to make sure she could take piano lessons when she showed an interest in music.
"Mom and dad weren’t rich, but mom was determined to figure out a way to get the money for lessons," Siler said. "She finally found a way."
Siler said her parents purchased an old Baldwin piano that was painted with a black and white speckled finish.
"It was hideous, but it played," Siler said, laughing at the memory.
The family stripped the piano and gave it a pecan finish instead. It became a source of great pride.
To this day, Siler said her interest in music and ability to play piano proficiently is all thanks to her mother.
"I could see that mom wanted to learn to play too, but she sacrificed for me," Siler said. "She was just a great person, so full of love and vitality and energy, compassion and self-sacrifice. All the good adjectives in the world you could use could be applied to my mom."
Rose did finally embellish her musical interests when she began working at Gibson’s Music. Comer said Rose took lessons and became quite good at learning how to play piano.
Family and friends were able to pay their last respects to Rose during her funeral service Tuesday at Croley Funeral Home. She was laid to rest in Young Cemetery.
A full obituary on Rose appears in the People Section of this week’s News Journal.