Monday, September 2, 2013

People passing through our lives: Rosalie Willis and Jay White

From 1978 to 1980 I lived in Mt. Vernon, Illinois and worked with Rosalie ("Rosy") at a Holiday Inn. She was a waitress, I was a cook. She was a wonderful, warm, friendly person. When I found out about her past with Charlie I was blown away. Their son, Charlie Jr. came to visit her and I met him several times before I knew about her past. His eyes scared the hell out me! They were just like his dad's. When Rosy told me the story I damned near fell off of my chair. Jay, as he called himself then, was one the spookiest people I have ever met. I am sorry to hear of his suicide and of Rosy's passing. May they both rest in peace.

Let me start by saying that I stumbled upon your site totally by accident and was shocked to hear of both of their passing. Like I said, I had worked with Rosy for about a year and a half before I found out about her and Charles Sr.

She and I were both working at a Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon, IL and she was remarried and the step mother to a friend I had met after moving there. She truly was a sweetheart, very kind with a wonderful sense of humor.  I loved working with her. In the early spring of 1978 Rosy told me that her son from her first marriage was coming to visit her and about a week later she introduced me to "Jay" as he called himself then. I just assumed that his last name was Willis.

Jay was tall, well-built with shoulder length dark brown hair. He was friendly but a bit distant and very articulate.  I actually would not have given him a second thought were it not for his eyes. They were large, deep set and disturbing but I just couldn't put my finger on why I found them disturbing. I finally asked her stepson about Jay and just casually said that he had the creepiest set of eyes that I had ever seen.  He just kind of smirked, looked at me at said, "You don't know who he is, do you?". And then he dropped the bomb on me, Rosy's first husband was Charles Manson. I thought he was kidding until he told me to go talk to Rosy if I didn't believe him. And then I thought about Jay's eyes again. The chill that ran up my spine was unbelievable. A couple of days later I took Rosy to lunch and actually managed to scare up the courage to ask her. She opened up to me very freely and I sat across from her like a deer in headlights. What she told me stopped me in my tracks.

With that, I have to say what she told me does not exactly jive with a lot of the information I have read on line.  According to Rosy she met Charles Sr. when she was still a teenager and that she knew about his past criminal record but thought that she could change him. She said that they started a relationship and soon got married.  She said that the Charles Manson that she married was not the monster that broke into the headlines 15 years later. She also said that contrary to the story that she left him after they arrived in California was not true. According to her after they left Ohio he informed her in Oklahoma that the car they were driving was stolen and that she got out of the car at a gas station with her suitcase and let him continue on his own. She said she spent several days there waiting for her family to send her bus fare to get back home and that she had not yet told Charles Sr. that she was pregnant. She also said that after she got out in Oklahoma that she had no real further contact with him and filed for divorce after returning home. It wasn't until his arrest for the murders that she had any idea where he was or what he had been up to. By that time Rosy had gone on with her life. Yes, she was shocked but she felt that she was not in any way connected to him anymore.

Jay seemed to be a different case though. In an odd way he seemed to get kind of kick out of letting people know who his father was. Everybody started cutting him a really wide berth but Rosy was the one who seemed to pay the brunt of it. I watched people at the hotel who had worked with her for years just distance themselves very quickly as though she was the one who had done something wrong.  Thanks to Jay word spread pretty quickly and Rosy became an outcast of sorts. My heart went out to her and just a handful of us stood by her side. Within just a couple of months she quit. I moved soon after ward and lost contact with her.

From what I have found out on line, Jay visited, or at least attempted to visit his father in prison and from what I have heard those attempts did not go well. I really can't imagine that they would have.

Again, Rosy was a treasure and I am glad that I got to know her. Jay, at the time, had some issues and I can understand why. It seems he may have tried to reconcile some of those things but it appears as though he just wasn't able to. I am sad to hear of their passing and I hope that they are both at peace.

Matt, thank you for letting me share this. I have not talked about this experience in decades. It still amazes me what is capable of passing through our lives.

Kindly contributed by Mango Man

DebS here-

I certainly appreciate Mango Man sharing the story that Rosalie told him, however I think it was just that, a story. Official records do not bear out what Rosalie told Mango Man. Giving Rosalie the benefit of the doubt I'm hoping that she was just trying to distance herself and her loved ones from Charles Manson.

Charles M Manson (Jr.) was born in California.
And here is his death record, he had changed his name to Charles Jay White and the record is in the name CJ White.

Apparently, according to my sources, Rosalie did separate from Charlie a couple of months before Charles Jr. was born. Rosalie filed for divorce, in California, from Charlie July 9, 1957 and the divorce was final Sept. 10, 1958, she was granted custody of Charles Jr. While Charlie was in prison Rosalie hooked up with a man named Jack White. She and Jack had son Jesse White before her divorce from Charles was final. They had another son the following year. Both of the White boys were born in California.

Rosalie and her then husband Jack White moved to Cadiz OH in the early 1960's to be near Rosalie's family. In 1965 Rosalie and Jack divorced. Rosalie stayed in Ohio and Jack went to Texas.

On Jan. 3, 1971 Jack and Rosalie's youngest son Jed was killed by an accidental shotgun blast at age 11.

On August 23, 1986 Rosalie and Jack's oldest son, Jesse, died of an overdose in Houston Texas. 

Rosalie had married two more times after she divorced Jack White, the first ending in divorce and the second when she was widowed.  She did not have anymore children. She spent the last six years of her life living near Tucson AZ and died August 21, 2009.

ROSALIE HANDLEY, 71, a six-year resident of Green Valley, and formerly of Las Vegas, Nev., lost her battle with lung cancer at St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson on Aug. 21, 2009.

Published: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:17 PM MST

She was a member of the Green Valley Elks, San Ignacio Golf Club and the Canoa Hills Women’s Golf Assoc. as well as a former member of the Country Club of Green Valley and the Elks bowling league.

She enjoyed playing golf, bowling, dancing, playing cards, slot machines and spending time with her family.

Rosalie is survived by her loving companion Dr. Milton G. Mooney; brother Clarence (Buster) Willis; sisters Eileen Bradley, Maryann Horton and Amy Mulvey; daughter-in-law Elizabeth Whitlock; grandson Paul White; stepdaughters Laura Walker and Charlene Vinyard; and stepson Smokey Joe Handley.

She was preceded in death by her husband Jack Handley; and sons Jay, Jesse and Jed White.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 31, 2009, at the Green Valley Elks Lodge.