Rose’s Story (A Pro-Life Story of Hope Against the Odds)

Jean Cross

In January of 2004, a woman named Rose called the Alameda Pregnancy Counseling Center in San Jose, CA, and asked if she could share her life’s story to help the pro-life cause. I had the opportunity to meet and interview her and would like to share with you her truly amazing story.

“When you snuff out one life, you end more than just that one.” – Rose Dent Deterding

Rose Dent was born prematurely in 1932. She was delivered at home by the family doctor weighing just 1 pound, 12 ounces. Such an early birth resulted in underdevelopment of her eyes. She has no vision in one eye but says God allowed her to have a small window of light in the other which permits her to see light, color and shapes, though blurred. He also gave her a cheerful, plucky disposition, rosy cheeks and naturally curly hair. Her inspiring story is one showing God has a purpose for every human life. Rose survived her fragile beginning to marry the love of her life, Ted Deterding, a fellow student at the Special School for the Blind. Their marriage lasted for 43 years and was blessed by God with 7 healthy children, 14 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Rose’s mother had a difficult time with pregnancy and had lost a baby before becoming pregnant with Rose. She went into labor early and experienced heavy bleeding. The family doctor worked to pull her through and told her husband that Rose had been miscarried and left. After the doctor left, Rose’s father walked into the bedroom and saw on the foot of the bed a little 1 pound, 12 ounce, baby girl move ever so slightly. Realizing she was still alive, he picked her up, cleaned her up, wrapped her in a soft cloth, and placed her in a cigar box in the oven at a low temperature with the door ajar. He fed her milk with an eyedropper. Three days later the doctor came back to check on her mother. As he turned to leave, her father said, “Don’t you want to see the baby?” The doctor said, “WHAT BABY?”

Needless to say, Rose was taken to the hospital and placed in an incubator. Her father supplied blood for several transfusions. She stayed there for three months in the care of loving nurses who took pictures of this amazing baby while she continued to grow and thrive. Some of these nurses stayed in contact with her throughout her childhood days.

When Rose was four years old, another challenge arose for her. A tumor was discovered behind her right eye. After the needed surgery to remove the tumor, her vision improved! When she was out of the hospital, her father took her to an amusement park. They took a ride in a boat on the lake and the electric cables to the boats threw sparks. She could see them and was at first frightened, then delighted!

At the age of 5 her parents enrolled her in a special school for the blind in Jacksonville, Illinois. There she learned how to function as a blind person in a world where others can see. Rose recalls learning many things at the School for the Blind. She learned Braille, typing and even taught herself to read as she was able to make out the letters on a screen that went with the Braille she was learning.

As she neared her last years in the school, she was in a school play. Ted Deterding, a classmate, was her fiancee in this play. This began a friendship which blossomed into real love. At age 18, when Rose brought Ted home to meet her parents, they were not pleased and did not think marriage could work for two blind people. Her parents were very protective of her. After a two-week visit, they went to see Ted’s mother in southern Illinois. She had a small cabin on her property and was more accepting of their plans to marry. So Ted and Rose were married by a Justice of the Peace in November of 1951 and set up housekeeping in the little cabin. In 1952 their first son was born two months premature but with no health problems. Ted and Rose were blessed with a total of seven children in nine years. This was a bit overwhelming, but somehow they managed.

Ted was a bright man with an IQ of 140 and a 1965 college graduate of Carbondale University in Illinois. His dream was to be a history teacher. However, the college felt he could not teach as a blind man. So he took music courses and was a good musician playing piano, mandolin and guitar. After various disappointments in trying to find employment, Ted decided to move his family to San Jose, California in 1976. Ted and Rose went to a Bay Area meeting of jazz musicians. At this jam session, Ted was invited to play. They liked his music so much that he became part of a group called “The Entertainers” playing engagements for country clubs, weddings and other events. Rose also found work in 1976 with Good Will Industries. She started work in the packaging department and eventually in quality control.

In 1979, Rose was diagnosed with cataracts – another challenge. Her vision at this time was 20/400. After cataract removal, her vision improved to 20/200 with glasses – another blessing! Now with glasses and good lighting she could get by. On her rides to work on the city bus, Rose made a friend who worked in the city’s probation department. With the help of this friend, in August of 1980 Rose began transcription of court reports of minors who went to trial. She never got bored – each case was like a story as she listened to tapes and typed.

In 1996, the Lord called Ted home. Rose really misses him but is thankful to have had such a nice husband and father for her children. Since then, Rose has been able to fill her days with new and interesting experiences. In 2002 she went on a cruise with five other visually-challenged friends and a special travel agent who could explain the sights. They took a 16-day trip through the Panama Canal. On this trip Rose got to swim with a dolphin that would not stop kissing her!

Currently Rose lives with a roommate who is also blind. She is proficient on a computer – using special adaptive programs to assist her diminished vision. She is a member of the San Jose Visionary Lions Club whose members are mostly visually challenged, and serves on the Silicon Valley Council for the Blind. Rose has been asked to speak by various organizations about her story of how God provides and has a wonderful plan for every life. God continues to bless Rose and make her a blessing to others. Rose says, “I have the joy of Jesus in me and you can do anything if you have that.”

Jean Cross is the Center Director at the Alameda Pregnancy Counseling Center in San Jose, California (the ministry of the Bay Area Chapter of WELS Lutherans for Life).


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