Community Voices

Long time Fullerton resident Rosellen Gates passed away

Rosellen C Gates 1922 – 2023

Long-time Fullerton resident Rosellen Gates passed away on July 16, 2023, in Santa Rosa, California, where she had moved in 2015 to be nearer to her daughter Joan. She was 101 years old.

Rosellen was born on June 12, 1922, to Herman Cornett and Moyna Adams in Dexter, New Mexico. The family soon moved to Breckenridge, Texas, where her two younger sisters, Betty and Joyce, were born. Rosellen liked to tell the story of a giant dust storm that chased them to San Jose, California, when she was about 16, where her father owned a shoe store with his brother.

Rosellen graduated from San Jose State University with a major in Music and taught elementary school for a few years. During the latter part of WWII, she served in the Navy WAVES in Washington DC and then married Robert Gates in 1947 in San Jose.

In 1950, they moved to Fullerton when Bob took a job sight unseen at Fullerton College, where he taught science before becoming a Dean. Rosellen lived in Fullerton for 65 years, where, for many years, she taught private piano lessons in her home. She and Bob were involved since the early days with Fullerton Friends of Music, were longtime members of the Fullerton United Methodist Church, and Rosellen organized and conducted the Windsong Players, a Recorder Music group, for 40 years. She was also an active member of the Mu Phi Epsilon Music Fraternity, sang in the choir at her church, and was a Girl Scout leader.

She and Bob took many adventurous overseas vacations until he passed away in 2000.

Rosellen is survived by her sister Joyce Wilkinson (Fred), daughters Laurie Gates Engelhardt (Darrell) and Joan Gates (Steve Marlowe), as well as three grandsons Brian Engelhardt, Allan Engelhardt (Mandy Lowe), and Max Marlowe. She was predeceased by her sister, Betty Binford.

A memorial service will be in Santa Rosa on September 30th, and a celebration of life will be held in Fullerton, with details to be announced later.

Rosellen had an active life filled with music and a love for helping others. When she moved to a senior residence in Santa Rosa at age 93, she immediately got busy helping other new residents get settled into the community by befriending them and encouraging them to join an exercise group, a drumming class, and a book group. She was an inspiration and made a positive impact wherever she went. We envision her now singing and playing piano and recorder with the angels.

She will be greatly missed!

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