Jose Douglas Rosales ’01 passed away on October 5, 2011, after a six-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 31.
Doug graduated with honors from South El Monte High School and went on to major in international business at Saint Mary’s College, where he played football for four years.
“Doug was a special person. He inspired many of us to do our best, to be better people, and to not make failure an option,” said Doug’s brother, Manuel Rosales, who described the difficult beginnings the Rosales children had in their Los Angeles County town.
“We thought South El Monte was no different than any other city. We were welfare kids. Wasn’t everyone? Our limited perspective could have handicapped Doug. He could have let the song of failure lure him into temptation, like it does to many kids in the city. Doug did not listen; instead, he created his own tune.”
The Rosales family had fled civil war strife in El Salvador, determined to succeed in the United States. But it was tough going, Manuel explained. There were times when they had little to eat, when he and his brother pushed a shopping cart to collect cans to help their mother pay bills.
“Most students viewed classrooms as dungeons and boredom. We peered through each door and saw opportunity. We knew that our mother, who worked three jobs at times, would not have it any other way. Our mother is the driving force that guided us to success.”
Doug received moral support from Gaels football alumni and close SMC friends, who hosted a special event on campus for him a few years ago. It reunited generations of Gaels, according to close friend and teammate Jaime Villanueva, who, with other SMC buddies — Angel Cardenas, Carlos Guzman and David Taylor — visited Doug and formed a strong circle of support.
“My brother fought courageously, even though he knew he was fighting a futile war,” said Doug’s brother, Manuel. “I thank him for making me a better man.”