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Centerville man who survived with transplanted heart for 35 years dies

Rosen remembered as kind, fun-loving

T-L File Photo/SHELLEY HANSON BACK IN 2019, Jose Rosen of Centerville celebrated the 34th anniversary of receiving a heart transplant with a fudge cake complete with a No. 34 candle at T.J.’s Sports Garden in Wheeling. Rosen died on Feb. 28.

CENTERVILLE — Centerville resident Joe Rosen, who lived with a donor heart for more than 35 years, died Feb. 28. He was 64 years old.

Rosen graduated from Union Local High School in 1974. He was born in Glen Dale on July 17, 1956, a son of the late Mike Rosen and Grace Garrison Rosen.

Rosen received his donor heart during a transplant operation on Oct. 25, 1985. He was 29 years old at the time.

Every year on the anniversary of receiving the donated heart he celebrated the occasion. It was the beginning of his new life with a new heart. During an interview with The Times Leader in 2019, Rosen said the heart allowed him to live a happy, healthy life. He said receiving the heart was a second chance to live again.

He said then that he always tried to be a good steward of the heart he received by staying active and living a healthy lifestyle.

None of his doctors could tell him just how long it would last.

“I woke up and I was better. I wasn’t sick, I was better — I knew I was better,” Rosen said back in 2019 of the transplant experience. “The thing that was weird, I was putting my hand to my chest and it wasn’t my heartbeat … It was so odd, it wasn’t my heart anymore — it was someone else’s heart. I was always told the heart would never be my heart, that it would always belong to the donor. I was told by the transplant coordinator that, ‘You are the caretaker of this heart.'”

Rosen held a variety of jobs over the years. He was a licensed barber and had a shop in Centerville. He also taught sign language at Belmont College. Later he became an early intervention specialist in Cambridge for the Guernsey County Board of Developmental Disabilities. He worked there for 16 years before retiring.

The Guernsey County Board of Developmental Disabilities posted on its social media that officials there would always remember Rosen. They described him as a “very special person and co-worker.” He was known for his “infectious smile and contagious laugh” and loved to sing. He exuded joy and positivity.

“Joe made a lasting impression on all of the children and families he supported as a developmental specialist. He had a degree in deaf education, was fluent in sign language, and specialized in helping children with hearing impairments. He helped countless children and families reach their goals, leading with his compassion, patience, and fun-loving personality. ‘Joe’ was often a child’s first word,” the board noted. “Joe will be remembered for his generous and servant heart.”

Rosen was also the author of a children’s book, “Smally and the Big Shiny Yellow Bulldozer.”

Rosen is survived by a sister, Ilene (Charley Mac) Dillon of Jerusalem, Ohio; a sister-in-law, Helen (Paul) Parnell of St. Clairsville, along with several nieces and nephews, cousins and

friends.

His funeral service is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 6, at Smith Township Community Center in Centerville. Burial will follow in Greenview Cemetery, located at Ebenezer Methodist Church, Roberts Ridge, Moundsville.

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