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The Rose Report: Dr. Larry Rose Reflects on Life and LU

In March 2011, Larry Rose, '65 had a heart attack. For all intents and purposes, he died. The doctors prepared his wife and family and asked them to say their goodbyes. But Rose, evermore the fighter, came back. A man who has lived his life with gusto, promised himself he would do more, give more.

Dr. Larry and Helen Rose
Helen and Larry Rose

"I went to the other side, and I came back as a different person. I've often wondered why I came back, and I realize that I came back to help people," pondered Rose.

With a fresh outlook on life, Rose, who was no stranger to giving and helping students at Lamar University, decided to contribute more to students at LU. Rose, who since 1973 has funded the Aaron and Pearl Rose Business Scholarship, awarded to a top business student each year in memory of his father and mother, decided to assist dance students along their journey.

Rose established two awards for dance majors, Best Contemporary Dancer and Best Technical Dancer, and funded financial awards for members of the Lamar University Dance Team.

"Through my orthodontic practice, my patients would ask me to come to their dance performances and recitals. While watching them, my wife, Helen, and I started to notice these performers had the same characteristics that make a business graduate successful—perseverance, dedication, a team mentality, intelligence," said Rose. "This led Helen and me to see about offering a dance award."

Rose Award Recipients
Scholarship Recipients Mia Paul and Haley White

This past spring semester, two dance majors were awarded this newly created honor, Mia Paul of Houston for Outstanding Contemporary Dancer and Haley White of Beaumont for Outstanding Technical Dancer. Margan Ferguson received the award for the LU Dance Team.

"Being the first recipient of the Helen and Larry Rose Scholarship was an honor and a genuine surprise. I received the award at the end of preparation bootcamp during our team dinner, and it was truly a special moment," said Ferguson. "This scholarship took care of all of my books and supplies need for this semester, and I'm extremely grateful. I have been a member of the Lamar University Dance Team for four years, and the program is very near and dear to me. I appreciate Dr. and Mrs. Rose recognizing us and seeing fit to contribute to the program in such a way."

Rose, a self-described spiritual man, firmly believes that everything happens for a greater reason. To understand Rose's reason, the story begins many years ago on a path that led him to the man he is today.

This journey from LU, dental and orthodontic school before becoming Muhammad Ali's ring-side dentist to obtaining a patent for an orthodontic tool and then a stint as a sponsored race car driver, goes all the way back to 1957 when Rose entered a yo-yo contest.

"When I was in high school, my dad thought I needed to get a job, so I quit the track team and went to work sacking groceries. During this time, I decided to partake in the Duncan Yo-Yo Contest at the Gaylynn Theatre. I discovered I had a talent and became a yo-yo champion," recalled Rose. "I took a good opportunity I had with my job but found a way to make it better by becoming a champion. I've lived by this same rule my entire life."

As Rose's high school and yo-yo years came to an end, it was time to think about college. Rose was set to attend the University of Texas, but because his dad needed his college savings to start a business, Rose chose to stay home and attend Lamar University. This transformative college experience set him on the path that would lead him to dental school and beyond.

"When I left LU to attend dental school at the University of St. Louis, I was surrounded by classmates who had attended prestigious institutions. They had spent their summers working for dentists, and their dental knowledge was way ahead of mine. My knowledge stopped at the fact that I knew how to spell tooth! But my education that I received at Lamar University held up and gave me a competitive edge," said Rose.

After dental school, Rose joined the Army as an officer for two years and then set up his general dentistry practice in Houston. After two years of practice, he decided to attend orthodontic school. In true Rose fashion, he took this opportunity to find something good and make it better.

While learning wire bending in one of his classes, he decided he could make a better and more useful plier in order to accomplish a complex wire bending procedure. He drew out his idea and began working on prototypes of his new plier. In 1977, his design was approved for a patent, and the plier is called the Rose Torquing Plier, which sells worldwide.

Along the way, he met Muhammad Ali and became his ringside dentist. While traveling across the U.S. with the boxer, he learned several important lessons.

"Ali once told me, 'Friends don't keep score.' He also shared something else that has always stuck with me, 'He who tastes the wine of success will always know success, and he who tastes the wine of failure will always know failure. Live your life so you can always taste the wine of success,'" recalled Rose. "I always go back to this when I'm making a decision. This has helped me try to always set myself up for success."

As if his life wasn't already considered a success by any standards, Rose decided to explore the race car circuit, and in the 1980s he became a sponsored race car driver. Again, he followed his life mantra and made his good life more exciting. Now Rose lives life by taking something good and making it better for others.

"My hope is to inspire others who can to give back as well. It's heartwarming to help students along the way, and I wish them to always have the taste of success!"