Paul Rose was Windsor’s “Mr. Gymnastics” for 40 years. A national champion athlete in his youth, he founded two gymnastics clubs in the city and worked diligently to grow the sport.
Rose was born in Windsor on November 25, 1936. He attended W. D. Lowe High School from 1952 to ’56.
Rose was a truly outstanding athlete in his youth. Between 1952 and ’59, he trained under Bernie Newman and alongside Ernestine Russell and Ed Gagnier at Windsor Gymnastics Club. His specialty was the All-Around competition, which evaluates gymnasts on their combined performance in the parallel bars, side horse, vault, rings, and floor exercise. In 1954 he won the All Around Canadian Champion Novice title.
While at W. D. Lowe, Rose was WSSA All-Around Champion and a member of the WSSA and WOSSA Team Champions in 1953, ’54, and ’55. Unfortunately, gymnastics was dropped from the WSSA sports calendar in 1955-56.
Rose won several other all-around titles as a competitor, including the 1955 Eastern and Western Canada Championships (Junior), the ’56 Indianapolis State Championships (Novice), the ’57 Novice Division at Ohio State, the Central United States and Chicago State Championships, and the ’58 Eastern Canadian Championships (Senior).
Notably, Rose set a Canadian record for rope climbing (3.2 seconds for 22 feet) in 1955 that still stood at the time of his induction.
Between 1961 and ’63, Rose was a gymnastics instructor for the Parks and Recreation Department. In 1964, he filled the same role at the Windsor YMCA. A certified gymnastics judge, Rose officiated at school competitions and the Canadian Championships between 1962 and ’77.
Rose founded the Rose City Gymnastics Club in 1970 out of a desire to provide his children and others with the opportunity to learn and grow as athletes and humans. The Club initially operated out of Rose’s backyard; each day, he would set up and dismantle heavy equipment like parallel bars, vaults, and trampolines. When the weather turned cold, Rose needed to find appropriate indoor facilities to continue his work. He searched diligently throughout the Windsor area to find accommodating facilities that allowed him to hold classes on each night of the week. Rose was always concerned with providing convenient, accessible sites for those who wished to participate.
Rose rented school gyms, Knights of Columbus halls, warehouses, and the basement of CKLW Radio. As before, Rose was in charge of setting up and dismantling his temporary gymnasiums in addition to teaching. Each night, he would set up 16-foot wooden beams on metal mountings and haul out 4-by-12 mats from storage to lay around the beams. Then, bars of heavy metal or wood had to be assembled, guide wires needed to be attached and fixed to floor braces, and mats had to be placed around the bars. Finally, a monstrous 500-pound vault had to be carried to its position, lowered or heightened according to the age and size of the gymnasts using it, and surrounded by heavy mats. After several hours of practice, all this equipment had to be disassembled and stored. The next day, at another location, the process began again. The work took four hours each day, and the Club didn’t add a second coach in 1975.
Although Rose resigned from his Head Coach position in 1982, he remained involved with Rose City in several capacities in order to ensure that it continued to operate smoothly. In 1986, Rose City finally moved to a permanent location. Ultimately, Rose was involved with Rose City Gymnastics Club as either Coach, Director, Fundraiser, Advisor, or Consultant from 1970 to ’92.
Rose also enjoyed a long career as coach of the Brennan High School gymnastics team. Between 1976 and ’96, Rose’s students won numerous WSSA and SWOSSA Individual Championships, plus three OFSAA All-Ontario Individual Championships. He moved to St. Thomas of Villanova High School from 1996 to ’99, where he won further WSSA and SWOSSA Overall Team titles in ’96.
Rose was involved in several other gymnastics endeavours in Windsor-Essex. Between in 1970 and ’99, Rose conducted four or five clinics every year on the basics of gymnastics – even though he was certified to coach at a much higher level. In 1971, Rose became the first person to conduct a Gymnastics Level 1 and 2 Coaching Course in Ontario. Between 1972 and ’74, he conducted regular summer gymnastics camps in Windsor. In 1977, he hosted the Ontario Regional Summer Games at St. Clair College. In 1983, he coached Leamington Gymnastics Club. He has hosted 10 WSSAA Championships gymnastics meets at various venues.
In 1996, Rose founded the Windsor Flippers, his second gymnastics club, so that his daughters would have a place to teach gymnastics. After again searching the city to find a suitable location, he laid essentially all of the groundwork to get the Flippers up and running. Rose renovated the new club’s facility to accommodate its needs, constructed the wood floor (with the help of some devoted parents), and reached out to his network of friends in the community to obtain any necessary lumber. Once the Flippers began to operate, Rose began to coach with the club on every day of the week, for four hours every night. In 1997, he founded the Windsor Flippers “Masters Group” program for gymnasts aged 25 to 50. He also founded a “Sports Aerobic” program to branch out into a new area of gymnastics.
In 1981, the Ontario Gymnastics Federation honoured Rose with its Recognition Award for his contributions to the sport. In 1992, Rose received the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal for his “outstanding achievements on behalf of Canada.”
The Windsor/Essex County Hall of Fame understands that Rose has won 180 gold, silver, and bronze medals in competitions across Canada and the United States. His various endeavours have produced numerous champion athletes, and he has taught thousands of boys and girls the values of hard work, dedication, discipline, and teamwork. In turn, Rose’s pupils have passed these lessons on to others.
Rose continued to teach gymnastics at the time of his induction. As of 2000, he was still devoting roughly 25 to 30 hours a week, across seven days, to coaching and other gymnastics-related activities. Paul Rose has always displayed enormous dedication to his work. He has contributed as much to an individual sport in this community as anyone.