Obituary of Manuel Costa Rose, Jr.
Judge Manuel C. Rose, Jr
July 26, 1923 – June 20, 2019
Walnut Creek, California
Prominent Judge and long-time Antioch resident.
Judge Manuel C. Rose, Jr. died at 95 on June 20 in Walnut Creek. At his side was his wife of 71 years, Willie, and his youngest son, John.
Born in Richmond, CA on July 26, 1923 to Manuel C. Rose, Sr., a hard-working Portuguese immigrant with little formal education, and his wife Rosalina (nee Andrade), a second-generation Portuguese-American. He graduated from Richmond Union High School in 1941 and began attending UC Berkeley. Interrupting his studies to join the US Navy at the outset of our country’s involvement in WWII, he served as an electronics technician and sonar instructor at the Brooklyn Navy Yard until 1945. Returning to Cal Berkeley, Manuel completed his BA in economics with honors in 1947 and received his LLB from Boalt Hall of Law in 1950. Manuel was fond of pointing out that his degrees were signed by then California Governor Earl Warren, a future Chief Justice of the United States.
Passing the bar exam the same year, he joined the firm of Winters and Winters in Antioch. As the state of California began consolidating city judges and justices of the peace into regional justice courts manned by part-time judges, Manuel decided -- largely to gain some recognition for his firm -- to run for the newly created Antioch Justice Court judgeship in 1952. A newcomer opposed by the presiding city judge and the presiding justice of the peace, he nonetheless won the election by fifty votes. Fluent in Spanish as well as Portuguese, Manuel always believed his Hispanic friends and clients were responsible for the victory. Twenty-nine at the time, Manuel became one of the youngest judges ever elected in the state.
Several years later, he would open his own practice at Second and F Streets in downtown Antioch.
His long tenure as a judge coincided with the development of eastern Contra Costa County itself. When the Antioch and Pittsburg justice courts were consolidated into the River Municipal Court in 1969, Manuel gave up private practice to become a full-time judge; after Brentwood’s Delta Justice Court was added in 1973 it became the two-judge Delta Municipal Court. Manuel served as an elected municipal court judge for the next thirty years, retiring in 1983. He next served as a judge pro tem for 23 more years, remaining active as his court continued to grow into the Contra Costa County Superior Court based in Pittsburg. Manuel finally hung up his robes for good in 2006.
He was a liberal Democrat who believed that poverty was the root cause of crime and that stiff sentences were not a deterrent. Providing more resources for counseling and rehabilitation, he believed, would reduce recidivism, especially among young offenders. He believed that if anyone’s civil rights were taken away, everyone’s civil rights were in jeopardy. Manuel also believed in fair housing, voting rights, and the United Farm Workers’ successful efforts to unionize, some of the defining legal fights of their time.
His record of community service included enthusiastic support for the arts: He was a charter member and director of the Contra Costa Concert Guild for 25 years, an organization which hosted some of the first performances seen in the East County by many nationally prominent artists. Manuel was a lifetime member and faithful sponsor of the Delta Art Association.
He served on the Board of Trustees of Delta Memorial Hospital from 1970 to 1976. He was a long-time member and director of the United National Life Insurance Company and other Portuguese fraternal organizations. He was a member of the Executive Board of Directors of the R.E.A.C.H. Project, Inc., of Antioch and Brentwood, an organization which provides youth drug counseling. Always enjoying young people, Manuel judged school speech contests, judged the annual national spelling bee at the county level, interviewed prospective Eagle Scouts for the Boy Scouts of America, and was a frequent guest speaker in school classrooms. A devout Catholic, he was active in Antioch’s Holy Rosary Church and was one of the dignitaries who broke ground for the Holy Rosary Catholic School on July 25, 1954.
One of Manuel’s biggest passions was travel. As much as he enjoyed his European “Grand Tours,” they weren’t nearly enough to satisfy his intrepid nature. He traveled—repeatedly—to all seven continents to see for himself the world’s most famous sites until he had seen them all. He would rattle along miles of dirt roads to visit remote destinations in the Southwest in a station wagon filled with Willie, their five children, and camping gear. “Island hopping” meant Easter Island, New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Saipan, Midway, and numerous others. One of his personal quests was to visit every National Park in the United States—Alaska and Hawaii included—a feat he completed in 1997. Still intrepid at the age of 85, he and Willie were in Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games.
He is survived by his wife of 71 years Willie Mae Rose, the former Willie Mae Beckham of Richmond; his children David Rose of Pleasant Hill, Thomas Rose of Oakland, Theresa Bouret of Lafayette, John Rose of Walnut Creek and Sally Noble of San Ramon; and six grandchildren.
The family wishes to thank the many medical and hospice professionals who cared for Manuel in his final years.
A celebration of his life will be held in the Rossmoor Fireside Room, 1001 Golden Rain Rd., Walnut Creek, CA, on Friday, July 26 from 11:00am to 3:00pm. If you wish to memorialize Manuel you may make a contribution to his favorite non-profit organization, the Nature Conservancy.
Pleasant Hill Location
2255 Morello Ave
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Telephone: (925) 827-2911
California License FD#: FD1649
300 H Street
Antioch, CA 94509
Telephone: (925) 755-2911
California License FD#: FD1674