CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Republican House of Delegates candidate John Rose Sr., 60, was checking fences on his 100-acre deer farm near Philippi when a falling tree limb struck and killed him, his son George Rose said.
"It was a big limb. . . . I don't even think he knew it hit him," the younger man said Thursday.
The elder Rose was with his wife when their all-terrain vehicle became stuck, the son said. She had begun walking away from the ATV as he tried backing it up, George Rose said.
"She heard the limb break, but she had already walked a little ways. She didn't think anything of it and didn't realize that anything was wrong. But then she saw he wasn't coming," the younger Rose said.
Rose was running in the House's 47th District. He was known at the Legislature as an advocate of deer farms, where captive herds are bred for hunting, as livestock and for commercial products.
"The whole county knew him," his son said.
"He got a lot of other deer farmers started."
Lt. Phil Ferguson, a 46-year-old Barbour County sheriff's deputy, has known Rose, his wife and their three children his whole life.
"He was a real nice fellow. He would give you the shirt off his back if you asked him," Ferguson said. "He was just a real fine fellow."
Rose had run a power-washing business and worked as a coal miner before starting a deer farm four or five years ago, Ferguson said. Rose had just acquired elk and was expanding his business, raising the animals and selling them to private hunting operations in Pennsylvania and other states.
Rose's 15-acre farm, Gone Huntin Whitetails in Philippi, began in 2005 and has about 45 deer. Rose worked with lawmakers for six legislative sessions to get deer farms moved under the agriculture department's jurisdiction. He had plans to try again this year.
Deer farmers have said the move from the Division of Natural Resources jurisdiction to the Department of Agriculture would free their businesses from strict DNR regulations.