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The Dash Between: Decade in Hawaii made lifetime of memories for Elyria woman

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Rose Broske brought grass skirts, a love of hula dancing and a taste for pineapple home to Elyria after spending most of the 1940s in Hawaii.

“When she was over there, she took hula lessons,” said her niece Dolores Cole. “When they came home to visit, she would show us how to do the hula with the hand gestures and everything.”

Rose also taught a class in the hula at St. Mary School and shared stories about life in the U.S. territory of Hawaii before it became a state.

“They didn’t have a lot of meat over there,” said Rose’s daughter, Cynthia Frazier, who was born later in Elyria. “They ate a lot of poi. Spam was big over there, because there was no meat. We never ate it at our house (in Carlisle Township). I guess they had enough Spam over there.”

More photos below.

Rose, who died Feb. 10, 2010, at age 89, was born Rosemarie Kaiser on July 31, 1920, in Pittsburgh. She was baptized at St. Boniface Catholic Church and was devoted to the Catholic faith all her life.

She lived on the city’s North Side before moving with her parents and five older siblings to Elyria in the mid-1920s. Her father worked as a stonecutter in the sandstone quarries in Amherst.

The Dash Between:

About this feature

The dates of birth and death that appear like bookends on a tombstone do not matter as much as the dash between those dates: The life that a person lived.

The Dash Between is an obituary feature written by Alana Baranick about regular folks from Lorain County and adjacent areas. Baranick wrote her first obit in 1985 when she was a reporter for The Chronicle. She wrote obituaries for Cleveland’s Plain Dealer from 1992 through 2008.

She is the chief author of “Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers” and director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers. She won the 2005 American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award in the Obituary category.

Today, Alana Baranick examines The Dash Between July 31, 1920, when Rosemarie Kaiser Broske was born in Pittsburgh, and Feb. 10, 2010, when the Carlisle Township great-grandmother died at Welcome Nursing Home in Oberlin at age 89.

The Dash Between is scheduled to appear in The Chronicle every other Sunday.

To suggest a story or make a comment, contact Baranick at abaranick@chroniclet.com.

Read more:

“They lived across from Jefferson School,” her niece said. “She was on this baseball team that practiced at the ball field there.”

Rose played catcher for a champion-caliber women’s softball team know as Frank’s Bakery girls before and after graduating from Elyria High School in 1938.

Her high school yearbook shows that Rose took a commercial course, belonged to the Friendship Club and was “rarely mournful, always kind,” traits that by all accounts she carried throughout her life.

“She was just a fun aunt to be around,” her niece said. “She would sew clothes for my doll. She taught me how to play “Chopsticks” and “My Country ’Tis of Thee” on the piano. She made a dollhouse for me out of a cardboard box. I can’t recall her every being upset or angry. She was very good natured and loved to laugh.”

After high school, Rose attended a business school and landed a secretarial job at the Colson Co. in Elyria, where she met fellow employee George “Bud” Broske. Bud worked as an electrician at the manufacturing plant that produced wheelchairs and bicycles.

They fell in love and had a small wedding on June 29, 1940, at the St. Agnes Catholic Church parsonage in Elyria.

The couple ended up in Hawaii shortly after the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which prompted America’s entry into World War II.

Bud, along with several other Elyria men, went to Hawaii as civilian employees of the Navy in 1942.

“He went to Hawaii first to help repair ships,” Rose’s niece said. “She lived with us for awhile. Women weren’t allowed to go at first.”

A few months later, Rose joined Bud in Honolulu, where he became an electrician in telecommunications at the Navy yard and Rose went to work for the War Department in the War Bond office. At one point, she was proclaimed “War Bond Queen.”

“Sell enough War Bonds, and they make you a queen,” said her son, Ron, who was born in Hawaii in 1949.

Both Rose and Bud received golf trophies from the Monalua Golf Club.

“They would golf, my dad would climb a tree and pick a banana, and they’d eat a banana on the golf course,” their daughter said.

Rose became close friends with Marge Emmons, the wife of Bob Emmons, a fellow Elyrian who worked with Bud.

“Rose was an easy person to know and a lot of fun and, of course, interested in everything,” Marge said. “We lived within a block of each other all the time of the war. We were restricted in our activities with blackouts, but that eased up after the first or second year.”

The Broskes remained in Hawaii for a few years after the war ended. They left soon after the birth of their son.

In the years that followed, Rose held leadership positions with the Catholic Daughters of America and belonged to the Altar and Rosary Society and Legion of Mary at St. Mary Church.

In the 1960s, she worked briefly at the unemployment office in Elyria before taking a job with the Bendix Westinghouse Credit Union.

She golfed with the Forest Hills Women's Golf League and in later years participated in exercise programs for seniors with Active People.

Rose liked to listen to Paul Harvey on the radio, play the organ and crochet afghans. She was a meticulous seamstress.

“She made a lot of my clothes,” her daughter said. “She used to always tell me, ‘It has to look as good on the inside as on the outside.”

Her husband, a retired U.S. Steel electrician and longtime Lorain County Road Runners member, died March 13, 2003.

While living at the Welcome Nursing Home in Oberlin in recent years, Rose told her daughter, “I had a good life. I wouldn’t do anything different.”

Contact Alana Baranick at (216) 862-2617 or abaranick@chroniclet.com.

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