In Memory: Russell David Rosene – “I grow toward the light”

Russ was a Friend. Always cheerful and full of stories from his life of travel and service, Russ was a great addition to our small Quaker meetings whenever he and his lovely wife Darlene visited Maui.   He liked everyone. When my son John was young, he had a pet rat, Rascal; Russ took an interest in John – and Rascal!

Recently, we celebrated Russ with a memorial service at Kameole III Beach Park in Kihei, Maui.

To honor Russell David Rosene xx

To honor Russell David Rosene

“Russell D. Rosene died peacefully in his sleep early on August 23, 2014, at the age of 92. He was born in Massachusetts, of Swedish ancestry, moved to Flint, Michigan and later to Los Angeles, where he graduated from Hollywood High School and got his first job at Walt Disney studios [how cool is that?].

A radio officer in the Merchant Marine, Russ served in both Pacific and Atlantic theatres of World War II. He was known for his stories and his sharp memories of the events of those years. At his death, Russ was a member of the Carl W. Minor chapter of the American Merchant Marine Veterans.

Nalu and John - and Barry

Nalu and John K. – and Barry – at Russ’s memorial celebration of life

Russ worked internationally with the United Nations, the Peace Corps, the American Friends Service Committee, and other organizations, which sent him to many countries throughout the world, especially to Latin America, where he became fluent in Spanish.

Linda and Bob

Linda and Bob

He returned to the sea for his last years of employment, working with the Chevron oil company tanker fleet where he ended a career as radio officer that spanned fifty years.

Ed, Mele, Darlene, & Hilary

Ed, Mele, Darlene, Barry, & Hilary

Russ was very fond of Avila Beach [in San Luis Obispo County, California] having moved there with his first wife, Nita, and young family in the early 1950s. Though he left many times to take up international positions, he kept returning to the San Luis Obispo area, living in Oceano and most recently in Shell Beach. He was frequently seen with his camera, taking shots of the beautiful sights of the beaches, the rolling hills, trees, wildflowers, and sunsets. ‘I am phototropic,’ he would say, ‘I grow toward the light.’

Mele and Darlene

Mele and Darlene

A gregarious personality, Russ was someone who truly loved life. He enjoyed outdoor adventures, meeting new people, and learning about their lives. Infused with Quaker principles as a volunteer in the Gaza Strip in 1949, he was also a humanitarian with an active interest in the plight of others.

John, Mele, Judy, Barry, & Pat

John, Mele, Judy, Barry, & Pat

Married three times, he is survived by his wife, Darlene Tunney; his first wife, Nita Rosene; their son, Chris (Sheila) and their daughter, Sandra. He leaves behind three grandchildren – Maya, Josh, and Ryan; and three great-granddaughters – Hilayah, Natalia, and Georgia. He is also survived by second wife, Wilda Rosene; step-children, Lisa Tunney Irwin (Peter) and Tyler Tunney (Ruth); step-grandsons – Joseph, Captain Jack, and Campbell.

Russ Rosene cruising in his red Mustang convertible

Russ Rosene cruising in his red Mustang convertible

Those who knew Russ knew he always had a cup of coffee, whether on tour somewhere in his red Mustang convertible, or back home with Darlene where there is a plaque that reads, ‘This home is full of love, laughter and lots of coffee!’

His final days were spent at Casa Rosa Elder Care, where he received the finest of tender loving care. He retained a strong appetite and love of food, always consuming everything on his plate.

Russ - a member of

Russ – a member of “the clean plate club” 🙂

Lisa spoke for the whole family to wish him ‘sunny skies and apple pies’” –  written by Darlene Tunney and Chris Rosene.

xx, xx Carol, Ed, John

Bill, Terry, Carol, Ed, John M. –  some of those remembering Russ

For those of us in a world without Russ in a physical form, Darlene shared an excerpt from Mary Oliver’s poem,

“In Blackwater Woods”

“To live in this world

you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it


to let it go.”


On the way to the water's edge - Darlene & John L. xx

On the way to the water’s edge – Darlene & John L.

John Longmire - piloting Russ' ashes out into the sea he so loved

John Longmire – piloting Russ’ ashes out into the sea Russ so loved

Carol chanting - and presenting Darlene with a lei

Carol sharing a Hawaiian chant – and presenting Darlene with a lei

Paddling out with Russ' ashes

John L. paddling out with Russ’ ashes

From the shore, we watched and tossed flowers into the ocean

From the shore, we watched – and tossed flowers into the ocean

The strong current swept all our flowers straight out into the ocean

The strong current swept almost all our flowers straight out into the ocean

Although it wasn't necessary, a concerned lifeguard swam out to see if John needed help and add his blessings.

A concerned lifeguard swam out to see if John needed help ( he didn’t) and added  his own blessings.

John back on shore - with Darlene

John back on shore – with Darlene

One flower remained on the shore

One tossed flower remained at the edge of the ocean

We shared a great feast –  tasty and healthy (with not a single bag of potato chips)!

We shared a great feast (with not a single bag of potato chips) - Judy, John M., Karen , xxxx

From right: Judy, John M., Karen, Aunt Rose, Ed, Carol, Terry, Darlene, Bill, Laura – her legs, John L., and Debbie

On the table in the foreground are three big apple pies.  Russ would have loved to eat a slice too.

Nalu kept busy

Nalu kept busy

Memorial table

Memorial table

Life goes on - but we remember Russ

Life goes on – but we remember Russ

Over his lifetime, Russ saw what war and displacement do to people. He leaves us with these words:

Poem on Peace – by Russ Rosene

Yes, all war is hell

It brings us no end

Of wrongs still to tell

And lives still to mend

And wounds still to heal

That won’t ever cease

To urge us to deal

And form a new peace

And restore what’s lost

By the whole human race

In confronting the cost

And in smoothing each face

Of still-angered men

Or still-grieving wives

Who still ask us when

Their much-shattered lives

Can rebuild new hope

In truth and not lies

As we learn to cope

As each of us tries

To restore good will

In trust and in song

And peace to fulfill

“Can’t we just get along?”


A meaningful way to remember Russ is to think of his words whenever we want to lash out, “Can’t we just get along?”

RIP: Russell David Rosene – b. April 13, 1922, d. August 23, 2014

Russ and Darlene and xxx

Russ and Darlene with Buddy

I am blessed to have known Russ.

Aloha, Renée

P.S. The radio room on the American Victory Ship/Mariners Memorial Museum will be named the “Russ Rosene Radio Room.”   Stationed in Tampa, Florida, this ship is one of four still operating; visitors can get a feel of World War II experiences.  To learn more, go to


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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

11 responses to “In Memory: Russell David Rosene – “I grow toward the light””

  1. Rosita says :

    Great post! Hi! Do you like KBD (Kintamani Bali Dog)? Here in Brazil we have two types of dogs: the local and ubiquitous BSDs (Brazilian Street Dog), who looks like the Balinese Street Dog and the unique Pastor da Mantiqueira (Mantiqueira Shepherd, in Portuguese), originated from the Brazilian highlands. This breed look like something between the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky. Mantiqueira Shepherd is an emerging dog breed from Brazil, as KBD (Kintamani Bali Dog) is from Bali 🙂 they have much more similarities than we think. These two breeds (KBD and Pastor da Mantiqueira) have so much mysteries to show to the world. Sincerely, I think that Mantiqueira Shepherd is more beautiful than BSD (Brazilian Street Dog), but I also admire BSDs by their endurance.

  2. Pat. Rouse says :

    You are the best, Renee, to put this together for all and any readers out there to know about Russ. It is so much like the long reviews of lives lived well we so love to read about in Friends Journal. thank you! Pat

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi Pat: Russ did have a well-lived life. We are blessed to have known him. I wonder if Darlene sent the notice to the “Friends Journal.” Hope you are having a great time. Aloha, Renee

  3. Rosita says :

    I read on internet that rabies in dogs is common in Bali. It’s true? When you was in Bali you heard about any rabies case in dogs?

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi Rosita: I moved your comment over to the post about Bali Dogs, so those who are most interested in the dog situation in Bali can know the answer to your great question.
      Aloha, Renee

  4. Rosita says :

    Oh, ok. I wasn’t remembering of that post haha but do you think that world’s peace is possible? I hope that one day, all of us can live in a truly earth Paradise, without wars, diseases or hungry 🙂 I also made a poem about what would be a better future (on my vision, at least….):

    If the world

    If all of us awake all the mornings with the frangipani smell
    If don’t exist any suffering at this world
    If our world would be better, not that hell
    If our world would be better, without suffering
    If peace and love would be our offering
    For those next generations

    The true love could cross borders
    If we learn the unconditional love
    And the loyalty of a dog
    It would be more gentle than flog
    If we could learn the love
    And the hope of a dove
    If all of us would be pure like a child
    The world would be a better place
    With peace, love and grace

    Like the hippies’s dreams
    Without war, only peace and love
    With the hope of a dove
    Like the Noah’s story
    But the world peace could be a historical change
    A change for a better future
    With only frangipani flowers and smiles
    Zero deaths, millions of smiles

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi Rosita: You and Russ would’ve gotten along very well. Thanks for sharing your poem and your vision of peace for all of us. We would do well with “frangipani flowers and smiles.” Thank you. Aloha, Renee

  5. Rosita says :

    Terima Kasih (thank you, in Indonesian), my buddy 🙂

  6. Rosita says :

    I had dengue fever and chikungunya, as I talked here on blog, and when I caught chikungunya, I only can talk was a pretty strange situation for a teenager. I’ll talk my story with this awful disease to you with more details: I remember that the symptoms initiated 2 of November of 2014. Strange as this date still firmly on my mind. All initiated with a high fever in the midnight (but at this moment I don’t know I was with fever) and a headache. At this moment, I WASN’T feeling joint pains. I was shivering on my bed and I was unconsciously for some minutes. When I recovered my conscience, I go out of bed and ran (!) to my parents room. I awakened mommy and explained that I was feeling bad. So, she touched my head and said I was with fever. After, she took the thermometer. I was with 40° C of fever! Very high, no? Weh, it was only the start of my story with this horrible virus: I talked mommy I was with a terrible pain on my joints and a horrible headache. Detail: the fever of chikungunya was one of the most intenses who I had in all my life until that moment. But the “good” thing was that I only had two days of fever and NONE DAY OF RASH, because some persons talk that chikungunya rash is so much itchful, who I can’t prove, because I don’t had itch 😉 but the joint pains were horrible, and it looked like all my bones were breaking 😦 mommy gave me some water. I drunk avidly. That intense thirst accompanied me during the first week of the disease. I ate a bit of mangosteen accompanied of a delicious coconut water 😋😋😋😋 and I think that it made me feel better. I remember dressed a red t-shirt and a white sarong (it’s a specie of skirt) to go to the pediatrician. I was pretty gorgeous and aparently (only apparently) healthy, but I was feeling very bad. When I went to the doctor, I tried to climb the stairs, but the pain was too intense. Conclusion: I only got down TWO STEPS! I wasn’t understanding why my body was bent, I really couldn’t climb the stairs. Instead, I got down these two steps, and I fell on the sofa in the reception. I was feeling very bad. An young woman offerred me a bit of water, and I accepted, because I was with an intense thirst. When I finally entered at the pediatrician office, she said it was probably dengue (it’s epidemic on my country) or chikungunya. Note: at that moment, chikungunya was a “new” disease here on my country, with a few cases, most of them contracted in travels to Bali, who wasn’t my case, because I never knew Bali on this life neither travelled abroad before the symptoms started. But I made the exams in the next day. Negative for dengue neither chikungunya. So, I REMADE the exams 6 days after the start of the symptoms. Negative for dengue, positive for chikungunya. I was using so much Tylenol and Acetaminophen for the pains. I wasn’t going to school during the 3 first weeks of the disease. When I went to school for the first time after chikungunya, I was so happy, with an immense smile on my face… I was thinking the worst ended. Oh, I was so ingenuous! When I went to school, I noted I WASN’T ABLE TO WRITE! This was a nightmare! And I lost 7 (seven) kg ON 15 DAYS AFTER THE START OF THE SYMPTOMS! Really, this was a nightmare! I lost partially my appetite. I was only accepting my favorite foods, but very little quantities. After these first weeks, I recovered my appetite. But the horrible joint pains continued. This was so awful! And I used so much remedies to alleviate my pain, who were horrible. But I faced all it with a strange stoicism, I don’t cried in none moment, but I have to confess that I was almost crying in some moments. I also had wrong diagnoses: one rheumatologist talked I was with JIA (Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis) and received me a lot of medicaments, for all life. Mommy was crying so much. It was nothing for me, not by insensibility, but I simply wasn’t understanding it! Sometimes, ignorance is bliss, as the proverb says 😉 and I had 5 (five) MONTHS with an excruciating pain in ALL JOINTS OF BODY, specially hands, foots and knees (I also have patellar dislocation since I was a child, who increased knee pains). But these pains alleviating with Tylenol. Now, I’m feeling very better. And it was my story with this virus. I LOVE traveling abroad. I want to know Tahitian beaches! And the whole part was when I went Fortaleza and USA with chikungunya! I went to these places, in a crazy, maybe stupid idea. Weh, I don’t enjoyed so much these trips, because I was feeling bad, but I liked to went to the beach. And I always become inebriated with the beauty of Ceará’s beaches, because here on Pará, the beache isn’t too close to the city 😦 and one fact about me that you could consider interesting: I like sea smell, mango smell and jasmine smell, because these smells remember me of my idyllic childhood, at a colonial style beachfront house 😀 and one my dreams is live on a simply, cozy bungalow at a littoranean city. I’m talking about a disease who I had recently. Weh, it’s a long story, no? 😉 but now, I’m better and I’ll certain duplicate my caution with mosquitoes, because I know what they can cause. Weh, this was my story with this horrible virus called chikungunya.

  7. Rosita says :

    Only a correction: I lost 7kg in ONLY A WEEK when I caught chikungunya

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