WV House of Delegates candidate killed because of storm, still on ballot
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.
There are about 40 deer farms in West Virginia.
Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass said he had known Rose for more than four years. He was sorry to hear about the accident and wanted to pass along condolences to his family.
"He was a real professional and a real credit to the industry," Douglass said.
Lanny Clay, who runs a deer farm in Barboursville, was sad to hear of Rose's death.
"He's the one I got my first deer off of," Clay said. "When I decided to go into deer farming, I didn't know what to do. He helped me a lot. He was a real good guy. He told me what to look for."
Clay, who began deer farming a little over a year ago, now has 11 deer. He said he called on Rose occasionally for advice, and Rose was always willing to help.
Rose's name will remain on Tuesday's ballot following his death, which triggers a special write-in candidate filing period.
Those interested in becoming write-in candidates must file with the Secretary of State's office by 5 p.m. Thursday.
But voters can also still choose Rose. If he were to win, the governor would appoint one of three replacements recommended by a GOP committee.
Rose was challenging House Education Chair Mary Poling, a Democrat. Just over 930 county voters had cast early in-person or absentee ballots by Wednesday.
Wright Funeral Home in Philippi is in charge of arrangements.