Willing Helpers Home dedicates its roses to benefactor Rose Knox

State Sen. Jim Tedisco, right, on Thursday presented a state Senate proclamation to the board of managers of the Willing Helpers Home in Johnstown recognizing the home for its 110th anniversary year. First row, from left are: Kathleen Rockwell, Jeanne Johannes, Debbie Buck and Nancy VanDenburgh. Second row, from left are: Mary Jo Argotsinger, Doreen Ford, Nelva Teabout and Mary Spraker. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Willing Helpers Home on Thursday dedicated its front yard rose bushes/garden to Rose Knox, as part of its 110 anniversary year, with local and state officials signaling approval.

Mayor Vern Jackson, members of the home’s board of managers and Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce staff, all took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony dedicating the garden to Knox.

Rose was a major benefactor for the West Madison Avenue adult home.

“We’re dedicating the [yellow] rose garden in memory of Rose Knox,” said home Board of Managers President Nelva Teabout. “Roses were very important to her.”

Prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, state Sen. Jim Tedisco toured the Willing Helpers Home. Fulton County’s state senator also presented home Board of Managers members with a special state Senate proclamation honoring the history of the home. The facility was first opened in southern Johnstown on Nov. 24, 1908.

Members of the Willing Helpers Home board, Fulton Montgomey Regional Chamber of Commerce staff, and Johnstown Mayor Vern Jackson take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony dedicating a garden to Rose Knox Thursday in front of the adult home. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

The home will conduct an open house for the public on Nov. 18.

The proclamation, in particular, honored the “Willing Helpers’ Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church of Johnstown” for its 110th anniversary.

On May 22, 1907, Charles B. and Rose Knox presented to the society the home for “the elderly women of Fulton County,” the citation read.

“Willing Helpers Home strives for its members to know that they will be going straight from their home into another very homey atmosphere knowing the fact that it is not a nursing home, but an ‘adult’ home,” the proclamation noted.

The recognition goes on to mention the Willing Helpers Home sits on two acres and exists for the comfort of women 60 and older.

Home Director Tammy Kruger on Thursday praised the home’s Board of Managers.

“We have a very active board,” she said.

Kruger also read a poem, “Yellow Rose,” during the ceremony.

The history of the estate and the Knox Family was presented during the ceremony. In 1907, Mr. and Mrs. Knox presented the house and extensive grounds known as the “Livingston Estate” on West Madison Avenue. The house had been built in 1852 at a cost of $11,000, and was in good repair. Through this gift and later “liberal contributions of the people,” the Willing Helpers building was later enlarged and remodeled.

Rose Knox was an American businesswoman who ran the Knox Gelatin Factory in Johnstown after her husband died. She won wide respect as one of the leading businesswomen of her time and was considered was very generous in giving back to her community.

Board member Debbie Buck thanked Tedisco for the proclamation, after reading it.

“The words in here really describe the atmosphere of Willing Helpers,” she said.

Nancy VanDenburgh, a 28-year Board of Managers member, read some history of Rose Knox. She said the wife of gelatin magnate the late Charles Knox would always present a rose personally to members of the graduating class of Knox Junior High School after it was opened in the 1930s. The area where the home is situated also used to be called Rose Hill.

Rose Knox remained a board member of Willing Helpers Home until 1950.

Tuesday’s event concluded with an ice cream social and music by “The Galaxy.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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