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Staff File Photo by Tim Barber / Pat Rose, left, was one of four Chattanooga or Hamilton County mayors of the past or present to attend a 2011 celebration of the Walnut Street Bridge's 120th year. Also shown are, from left, former Chattanooga Mayor Gene Roberts, then-Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

Former two-term Chattanooga Mayor Charles A. "Pat" Rose, who died Monday, presided over what one report said at the time of his two terms in office (1975-1983) was "the greatest downtown growth in history."

During that era, the Chattanooga Public Library (then called the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library), the TVA office complex, the second Unum (then Provident) building, and the then-Krystal and Tallan buildings were erected, and the Chattanooga Convention Center was started. The C.B. Robinson Bridge also was built during his tenure after the Walnut Street Bridge was closed.

Mayor Gene Roberts, Rose's successor, upon inauguration, said Rose and his colleagues "have been bridge-building in both the literal and figurative sense. As the result of their achievements ... the new city leadership begins with a solid foundation ... "

The construction came at a time when record inflation and high interest rates made the period one of the most economically depressed periods in the country since the 1930s.

Rose certainly had political success. After being appointed commissioner of public works following the elevation of Public Works Commissioner and Vice Mayor A.L. "Chunk" Bender to mayor in 1969, Rose was elected to a term on his own right in 1971 (receiving the most votes and becoming vice mayor). He was elected mayor in 1975, re-elected without opposition in 1979 and, news reports said at the time, easily could have been elected to a third term in 1983. After four years in private business, he returned to public service and was elected commissioner of public utilities, serving until the city changed its form of government in 1990.

The Orlando, Fla., native who grew up in Rockmart, Ga., had worked in traffic engineering in Atlanta for 14 years before coming to Chattanooga as assistant traffic engineer in 1964. He had been promoted to city coordinator before his appointment as commissioner in 1969.

But what the humble Rose — he identified himself as "Pat Rose" rather than "Mayor Rose" or "the mayor" — was most proud when he left office was that he and the city commissioners worked "as a team," had an absence of personality differences and were not burdened by factions working against each other.

J.B. Collins, the Chattanooga Free Press city hall reporter at the time, said in his more than 40 years of covering public officials, considering attributes of high morale character, dedication, application, effectiveness and personality, "I believe that Pat Rose stands at the very top of the list, Number One."

To those attributes, regardless of accomplishments, are what we would want all public servants to aspire.

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