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Posted on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:49 a.m.

Longtime Peace Neighborhood Center director Rose Martin dies

By Cindy Heflin

Rose Martin, one of the founders of nonprofit Peace Neighborhood Center in Ann Arbor and a driving force behind helping the disadvantaged in the area, died Tuesday.


Rose Martin

From Facebook

Bonnie Billups, executive director of the center, which serves low-income residents in the Ann Arbor area, said Martin had what appeared to be cardiac arrest while at the Olive Garden in Ann Arbor for lunch on Tuesday.

“We’re all saddened by her loss,” Billups said. “She’s my second mother.”

Billups said Olive Garden staff and paramedics unsuccessfully attempted to revive her.

Billups, who called himself Martin’s adopted son, said a memorial service would likely be scheduled for this weekend or early next week.

Martin, 70, helped found Peace Neighborhood in 1971 and became its executive director five years later, Billups said. Martin retired from that position in 2006 and founded another nonprofit organization, Rose’s Good Company, which provided help for those recently released from prison, as well as homeless people and recovering addicts, among others.

Peace Neighborhood Center posted a tribute to Martin on its website and Facebook page.

“Rose has left behind an overwhelming legacy of love and social justice,” the message read. “After helping to found Peace Neighborhood Center in 1971, Rose served as the Executive Director and primary driving force of the organization for over 30 years. Her dedication and commitment to helping those in need throughout the community allowed Peace Neighborhood Center to become what it is today. ... She was not afraid of life’s challenges in her pursuit of what was right. One could not accuse her of being a wilting flower. She was one Rose Blooming, a voice of compassion and a hero to a great many individuals throughout Washtenaw County and abroad.”

“She was Ann Arbor’s version of Mother Teresa in a lot of ways,” Billups said. “She would assist people who had the greatest obstacles. She would work diligently to help people overcome those obstacles and find success.”


Jason Ross

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

I will never forget the ways Rose helped me when I first moved to Ann Arbor. From showing up in my driveway every Sunday to pick me up for church or offering me bits of inspiration, she helped many people in many different ways and that's what truly made her a remarkable person. She will be missed.

W. Bush

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

Words will never express what you did for me. You made me see what true love is. Rose was a gift from God and she showed it everyday. It is hard for me to understand why you had to go. Rest in peace Z you have earned it. And for the family, remember her teachings and you will be able to get through the loss of such a great person. Love W. Bush


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

It's not just because of the 'right to work' laws or Obamacare that causes this kind of Olive Garden situation. Remember the A2 Whole Foods worker who chased a shop lifter and was fired? There have been other instances in the recent past where an employee thwarts a robbery or helps a customer in distress and is then FIRED. It's cold-hearted money grubbing companies that care more about lawsuits and their board of (mis)directors.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

Newtown. Why do you think NY pushed for a strict gun law? US pushed for a gun law. It passed. This too will pass....eventually.

Christy King

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.

It is also US. We need these instances to outrage us, to stand up and say it's wrong. I promise you if more people stood in front of Whole Foods demanding for that person's job back, or if more people were vocal about our lack of tolerance for such things, it might not be considered acceptable.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

A few months ago the national CEO of Olive Garden said he would have to cut back staff or charge more for their food because of the OK for Obamacare. Clearly they put profit before people: someone is dying and they continue to seat people? They don't let a trained person help but keep her waitressing instead? Looks like they feel making money during the lunch rush is very important and stopping for a few minutes cuts into earnings. Even if they just thought she was choking why didn't the EMTs get her out to the ambulance sooner? OG's profits are already down by 37% according to one article from a few months ago and this attitude doesn't help.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

I agree with HVA. They saved my daughters life and I wish I could figure out who they were. But I think they retired or moved on. HVA is ok in my book. As for nobama care? Same thing is happening in Florida. Restaurants are hiring more PT workers because they cannot afford the price nobama is charging us for that expensive care no one wants.

Christy King

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

They continued seating families with Children after she had actually DIED. Children. Who walked by her body in full view. It was despicable. But please, the EMT's RAN in there within 8-10 minutes of her first crashing, they worked tirelessly to save her. They did nothing wrong and I beg people not to put down HVA. They are one of Ann Arbor's greatest assets.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:41 a.m.

Im SPEECHLESS at what I'm hearing about what happened to OUR ROSE at Olive Garden.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 12:10 a.m.

A choking incident occurred at Knights Restaurant. Do you see any hullabaloo on that one? Nope.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:40 a.m.

Rose gave a legacy of LOVE to ALL those she reached out and touched. Over 37 years of children and familes entered the umbrella of Rose's One Blooming LOVE.. I remember the little PNC being a place were we would go after school and in the Summer. Rose loved traveling and eating at fancy places. If it wasn't for her care and concern so many adults today would never have left Ann Arrbor.. It was nothing for her to load up a chartered bus of children and hit the E-way. Mackinac Island, Mammoth Cave, Ky, Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, Canada to name a few.. Every trip to Cedar Point Rose always sat under her favorite tree with the chicken and the sides for us to eat. My favorite memory was going to her sister's in NJ where she would close down the whole block and throw a block party like no other. Rose assisted me with my 1st job and she helped me thru my 1st pregnancy. My brother's 1st job was at the PNC as well as my G son and daughter, My brother received PLENTY of support with his journey thru college.He is actually mentioned in her book..My mom and her was best of buddies for many years. I had just requested her to speak at my mom's retirement party and she accepted. ROSE will ALWAYS be remembered for her LABOR OF LOVE to all...Rose was a true rose that bloomed to all...


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

Rose was my mentor, my fried and just like family. I pray for Kelly, her daughter in which I am very good friends, for her grandson Blake Stephens, who is my sons best friend. I am shocked and saddened. If not for Rose taking my children in while I raised my children as a single mother, she welcomed my sons into her home for years and years... I feel that her shoes can and will never be replaced. RIP Rose.... I know u r in heaven. A woman of faith and commitment for EVERYONE! I love you and will keep your memory alive as best as I can. I love you dearly. I can not say it enough...

Christy King

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

"While my best friend and I were at lunch, yesterday, a woman had a heart attack and died. No one seemed to notice really or care with the exception of the two of us, the gentleman that was with her, and the HVA paramedics that worked on her for over 30 minutes, as they continued seating tables around the island that was her body. As her lunch partner stood by bewildered and in shock, people contemplated whether or not they had room for dessert. Our waitress said she was a paramedic for 7 years and was told to just wait for the EMT's to arrive, to just leave her alone, and she listened and tended to her tables. Personally, I thought it was all pretty messed up. Such a self-centered, oblivious world we're living in." This was my Facebook status update yesterday. I was working on writing something for because I was so appalled and upset over what happened to this woman, It was unbelievable. Seeing this makes it that much worse. I am so horrified and disgusted, and now angry. I cannot believe the dishonesty in this article. Olive Garden not only did NOTHING to help this woman, but they told one of their employees, who could have potentially saved her - not to try. Now, I could see this being just a case of horrible luck, after all, a waitress called out to the room, "Is there a doctor here, this woman is having a seizure", However, in the absence of a doctor, was a woman who had been a paramedic for 7 YEARS. She knew this woman had a heart attack and tried to convince her boss that she knew what she was doing and was told to do nothing. I thought at the time, "What if this was his mother, his friend, his sister?" The Olive Garden should be ashamed of themselves and I am incredibly disappointed that not only did this happen, but that with a room full of people present when it did, that someone actually thought that it'd be a good idea to lie about it.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

Christy, saw your earlier post about a different kind of article, if you want to get the info out you're going to have to go to a bigger venue... This one doesn't like to rock the boat... Take my word for it they don't care. I had a safety issue with my son's bus route & they wouldn't even respond to my email.


Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 12:08 a.m.

True. But in the state of Michigan this would still go against the employee and for the employer. She would have to still go thru suing her employer which could take years and the ones who are defending the employer have deeper pockets then she does. I grew up around attorneys and I remember them all saying that is all well and good on paper. But how did the verdict go down on the last one? I agree that Olive Garden should have shut down that section but I hate to say it, with Olive Garden loosing business it is business as usual. A chocking incident occurred at Knights Restaurant a while back. Same thing Business as usual.

Christy King

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

JNS, I have several friends who are attorneys that participated in the discussion when I first posted my status update, not only would she have been covered by the Good Samaritan Law, but even if she had tried to save this woman, and failed, had she been fired over it, I'd have to believe that she would have some seriously legal ground to defend herself against such a thing. My outrage at Olive Garden still seating customers around this woman as she was being worked on by HVA, was that they would not only tell someone not to try to save her immediately (especially when asked) but that they actually listened.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

What is incredibly sad about this story is even if true? The waitress would have been protected under the Good Samaritan Law. Although the Olive Garden management saw fit to prevent the waitress from doing a job she knew how to do. The management if the said waitress did what she did against management wishes would have fired her right after. In Michigan this is a right work state and Michigan still favors the employer not the employee. So yes, Olive Garden management? You are at fault for letting this woman get this far. If she had CPR when it was necessary? She might be alive today. I am now reconsidering going here any celebration for that matter. Sorry, but I really hope you are found at fault if this is so true. I have been told Olive Garden is in financial trouble. I hope this sinks the restaurant because I am rather miffed after reading all of this.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.

If this is accurate, Olive Garden needs to be made to pay for its callousness. I hope there are attorneys willing to interview Christy King. Either way, my family is never going back to Olive Garden.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

sound like made Ann Arbor a better place today in 1971 Ann Arbor had high crime rate .


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

dont eat at Olive Garden and Rip this lady ...she did more as a community organizer then the city council that want to take all her credit!!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

I agree.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

I am so sorry to hear this news. Ms. Martin's accomplishments exemplify the ENORMOUS difference in compassion and effectiveness of voluntary charitable organizations, and the government run "social services," where control and humiliation of those in need appear to be the modus operandi. ("I might give you some help if you send your husband packing and let me watch you pee in a cup.")


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:22 a.m.

AMEN! she was never judgmental! he loved people! I can bet the bank that she would never turn anyone away! She is the best role model I know and always will be! Her shoes will never be able to be fllled~

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

I spent the afternoon talking with people at the Peace Neighborhood Center whose lives were touched by Rose. I learned a lot more about her, so stay tuned for a followup story likely tomorrow morning.

tom swift jr.

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.

Rose was a leader in the human services/nonprofit community, she taught many of us what it meant to serve others. She will be missed.

Cindy Heflin

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

Just wanted to let readers know that we are working on a more complete obituary about Rose and her impact on the community. Be sure to watch for it.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

don't forget about her restaurant on Huron St!

Ann English

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

Hope no EMT union is behind this prohibition of a past paramedic attempting to save a life. Some volunteers from Alabama were told to go back home, that their help after Hurricane Sandy wasn't wanted because they were not unionized. I knew Rose Martin best for the counseling she gave to requests that were printed in the Ann Arbor News. Even in writing, you could sense the warmth in her answers to the problems people wrote to her about, there in the newspaper.

Christy King

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

You may also want to write another kind of story, or just wait for me to submit it to you, since I'm already writing it.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:23 p.m.

Mrs Martin thank you for doing such wonderful things for our community. I live near the Peace Neighborhood Center & there's always something going on there! RIP & may your legacy live on through the Peace Neighborhood.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:14 p.m.

Saddened by her too soon leaving us. I often stopped by the Peace Neighborhood Center to drop off various things they needed. She was always delightful, always busy, always involved. She was a true Ann Arbor Treasure and our town is left with a big hole in our very heart.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

I am in total shock, I have know her since I was about 7 or 8 years old she played apart in my childhood growing up going to PNC she will be truely missed here in Ann Arbor God Bless Gino in his time of need and the rest of the Martin Family.

Larry Eiler

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Fantastic lady. Would we can all emulate Rose in some way. Pick one thing and just do it in her memory. Then share what you do to commemorate her.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

What a lovely thought. I can't imagine a better tribute to Rose Martin than hundreds of people doing as you suggest, Larry.

Matt Cooper

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

So sad to hear Rose has passed. I am now 46 but she's known me since I was about 8 years old. Such a sweet lady, and an inspiration to all whose lives she touched. RIP Rose Martin. You will surely be missed.

4 Fingers

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Rest in peace Rose. What a great lady who did so much for so many. You will be greatly missed..


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Rose once outside of the context of the PNC, having only known of her previously through her good works reported in the media. I was very impressed by her humor, her grace, her intelligence and, most of all, by the fact that she was a REAL person. I saw no pretension, just a genuine lady. I have occasionally thought back upon that one meeting with her with fondness. I am sorry to hear of her death; my future recollections of her will be tinged with sadness now that she is gone.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Tis is a great loss for the community. The way she lived her life made such a difference to so many. She never gave up on anyone. She will be missed. RIP Ms. Martin. You're with the other angels now.

Lisa D

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Rose was a remarkable soul who taught our community much about about passion, compassion, social justice and love. Her legacy will live on in the thousands of lives she inspired and transformed in her remarkable life of service above self. Lisa Dengiz

Catherine Arcure

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

What a force she was!

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

From April 11, 2010: "Rose Martin, who has been working with low-income people in Ann Arbor for 30 years and is the founder of the Peace Neighborhood Center, is blunter. "The availability doesn't match the need. They just don't want it here," she said. "They don't want to have this deluge of low-income people here in Ann Arbor. They pay lip service while you've got a family with three kids sleeping in their car behind the trailer park (on Jackson). It brings reality too close. "The numbers of people who need help are growing astronomically. It's not people coming here from Detroit. It's people who grew up here, who went to school here. If you don't think it's a problem here in Ann Arbor, you're a damn fool."


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

She was a great lady. RIP!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

Rose you were a beacon of hope for so many. Your impact on the community is long lasting and wide reaching. Thank you for your compassion and your dedication. You will be sincerely missed. Gods speed friend.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

Rest in peace, you did a lot of great things for the community in life. I hope your mission is now continuing in heaven

David Cahill

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

I'm saddened by her death. I liked her. She was always willing to go the extra mile for folks in need. Her passing is a big loss.