Celebrating Black History Month at Sweet Briar: Jimmy Rose looks back

Jimmy RoseLong service to Sweet Briar College is practically a tradition in Jimmy Rose’s family.

His dad worked for the College for about 35 years. His wife’s father also spent more than 35 years working for Sweet Briar. His sister, Gloria, works in the Office of Student Life, and like Rose, she’s been working at the College for more than 30 years.

Rose’s first job at Sweet Briar came when he was just a kid, coming to campus with his brother during the summer. They would mow lawns, clean windows and “just generally help out” the professors who lived along Woodland Road. He got his first real job in 1984, when he joined the staff as a custodian.

Rose remembers those early years fondly. The school was going through some changes back then, combining multiple functions into the department we now call Physical Plant. But whatever challenges came from such changes were lightened by the sense of community Rose felt. “I learned a lot from the guys who worked here then. The older guys took me under their wings and showed me the tricks of the trade,” he says.

One of those guys was John Carter, the College’s long-time mail carrier. When Carter went on vacation, Rose would cover for him. Then, when Carter retired in the early 1990s, Rose took over delivering the mail. A few years later, Rose took a job working inside the post office, which is how most people know him these days: as the smiling face they see when they come to pick up their mail.

Jimmy Rose post office“I love my job in the post office,” Rose told us. “I love meeting the parents on opening day and answering their questions. I love getting to know the students.” He also enjoys the company of his co-workers, Gertie Coley and Stacey Carter, who are both long-time employees of the College. “We joke and laugh and have a good time.”

He has a good time outside the post office, too. In the summer, he likes to spend weekends fishing and riding ATVs with his two sons, Demarcus and CJ. He also likes to ride his motorcycle along the Blue Ridge Parkway, where his natural warmth and good humor help him meet all kinds of people and swap stories.

In April, he’ll have 34 years of service to Sweet Briar. You might wonder if he has any plans to retire. When we asked him, he laughed and said, “I hope so. Someday.”