Rose Marie (Marchesseau) Cernazanu

1928 – 2014
Rose Marie (Marchesseau) Cernazanu


Rose Marie Cernazanu, 85, joined her Heavenly Father on May 21, following a long and courageous battle with cancer. She passed peacefully at her home in Gold Beach, OR, with her son and daughter by her side.

Rose was born Sept. 15, 1928, on the family cattle ranch in Polaris, to Edward and Wilda Marchesseau. She graduated with the class of 1946 from Beaverhead High School in Dillon, and attended the University of Montana in Missoula. While there, she met Pete Cernazanu, a young man from Romania who became her husband of 60 years. They were married at the Marchesseau ranch on April 10, 1948. They spent their early years together primarily in the Pacific Northwest following Pete’s career with the U.S. Forest Service and raising their daughter, Jeanna, and two sons, Jim and John.

In 1970, Rose and the Cernazanu family arrived in John Day, OR, where she quickly took to fossil hunting. She was the curator for the Oliver Museum in Canyon City, OR, for a period of time and worked in the kitchen at Grant Union High School. She also appeared in the Walt Disney film, Napoleon and Samantha, which was filmed in John Day. After Pete’s retirement on the Malheur National Forest, he and Rose in 1982 moved to Gold Beach, OR, where they managed the Indian Creek RV Park. Charmed by the coast’s beauty and the allure of the Rogue River Chinook, they decided to settle in. Rose quickly caught on to salmon fishing and landed a 42 pounder out of the Rogue.

Growing up in Montana’s breathtaking Grasshopper Valley, riding horseback in the high Cascades of Washington, exploring Eastern Oregon’s high desert and the Southern Oregon Coast allowed Rose to nurture her love of nature and discover many pursuits. She was an adventurous and free spirit who delighted in portraying her life through stories and stagecraft. Her passions included rock-hounding, camping, fossil and arrowhead hunting, fishing, beach combing, clamming, and picking morel mushrooms, huckleberries and wild choke cherries. She loved music, literature, travel and animals. Rose was also known as a formidable opponent on the bowling lanes. She leaves a legacy as “The Montana Gal on Horseback Who Killed the Huge Bear,” the subject of the story that hit the newsstands from San Francisco to Washington DC after she killed a large black bear with a .22 rifle at the age of 16 while tending to a herd of sheep on the family ranch near Polaris. Letters and postcards poured in from across the country from fascinated readers.

Rose was preceded in death by her husband, Pete, and son, Jim, whom she lost just six months ago from brain cancer. She is survived by: daughter and son-in-law Jeanna and Tim Hall, of Portland, OR; son and daughter in-law John and Karen Cernazanu, of Broomfield, CO; daughter in-law Tootie Cernazanu, of John Day, OR; 19 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren. Surviving cousins include: Robert Marchesseault; Jules Marchesseault; James Marchesseault; Tex Marchesseault; Paul Daly; Estelle Bloomquist; Claire Owen; and Jane Dodd.

Rose cultivated many close friendships throughout Beaverhead County and in the Gold Beach community, where she was an active member of the Bethany Lutheran Church. Her kindness and compassion for others will be fondly remembered. A memorial service will be held at Bethany Lutheran Church, 94190 5th St., Gold Beach, OR, on Sunday at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to Bethany Lutheran Church, PO Box 1197, Gold Beach, OR 97444. Rose and Pete chose to have their ashes spread at one of their favorite places—“back on the ranch” in the Grasshopper Valley.