Uptown in the News
October 29, 2003
When Clement Rose's parents emigrated from Jamaica in 1970, the 12-year-old dreamed of someday becoming a doctor at Weiss Memorial Hospital, where mom Esse found a job as a pastry chef and dad Sylberth worked in housekeeping. In fact, when little Clem was 3 years old, still living in Jamaica, he told his grandmother Edna that he would one day be a doctor. Two years ago, over 40 years later, Dr. Rose was her attending physician when she died at Weiss.
The story of Clem Rose is one of hard work, persistence and the remarkable character and intelligence of a young man who refused to give up. Graduating from Senn High School at 15, Rose got a job at 16 at Weiss (as soon as he was legally able to work) as a chemical technician.
While Weiss' staff was mostly white at the time, Rose said he did not feel like an outcast—more of an anomaly.
"I wasn't the only black person working at Weiss at the time, but I was the only young black man in a white coat," he said.
Rose started college at 16 at Loyola and then went on to the University of Illinois Medical School (which at the time was affiliated with Weiss), all the while working at Weiss after school, on weekends and during the summer.
While the family lived near Weiss when they all got their jobs, in 1976 the Rose family moved to Hazelcrest. Since Clem was the only family member who could drive, he spent 1 1/2 hours every morning driving his mom and dad to Weiss, then rushed back to the U of I for medical school and back to Weiss to pick his parents up when school was finished. But all the hard work paid off. Rose became the chief resident at Weiss during his third year of med school. The first African-American doctor at Weiss is now the president of the hospital's medical staff.
And the family affair at Weiss doesn't end with the employment of Clem, Esse and Sylberth, or the death of Grandmother Edna. Clem's wife Laura worked at Weiss in information services, three of his children were born at Weiss and all three have worked as volunteers at Weiss.
"The employees and doctors at Weiss have remained loyal for all these years and that's what has kept this place going," he says—noting that Weiss is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. "We are loyal to our patients and they will keep coming back."
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