Former Roman Forest mayor celebrates 100th birthday

Marie Coose, a 100-year-old resident and former mayor of Roman Forest, received a surprise birthday plaque from Roman Forest City Manager Liz Mullane and Police Chief Stephen Carlisle on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Roman Forest resident Marie Coose reached a milestone birthday this month by turning 100 years old. She claims to start every day “early and with a cup of coffee” and eat whatever she wants. Her secret to a long life, aside from good genetics, is adaptability, she said.

“Just don’t let everything get to you. Make the best of things. If something is wrong, make the best of it. Don’t sweat about it all day and all night,” she said.

Coose never worked outside of the home, devoting herself instead to her family. However, if she had it to do all over again, she would have pursued a journalism career, she said.

“I always wanted to be a journalist. I think I am a journalist at heart,” she said. Coose put her love of writing and publishing to good use in the late 1970s and early 1980s when she compiled phone numbers and addresses, and sold advertisements for Roman Forest’s first phone books.

The town boasted 119 residents when it was settled in 1975 as a development started by Leonard Schumaker and Gulf States Company. Today, the population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, is roughly 2,000 residents.

“We had about 50 families back then. Everybody knew everybody,” she said. “It was like a big family actually.”

Coose is the first elected mayor of Roman Forest. In 1983, she won a contested race for mayor with just 45 votes. Prior to that, she had finished an appointed term as mayor. In the following years, Coose served on city council. She is credited with introducing Roman Forest’s first ad valorem tax, $0.10 per $100 assessed property value, and for changing the city’s designation from a community to a city.

Marie Coose, a 100-year-old resident and former mayor of Roman Forest, received a surprise birthday plaque from Roman Forest City Manager Liz Mullane and Police Chief Stephen Carlisle on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

“I am the one who started the property tax rate because as soon as I became mayor, we had a hurricane. I got a hold of FEMA but they could not help because we did not have any income as a city. I could not get a penny,” Coose said. Determined to put the city on a more solid financial footing for future disasters, Coose pushed for the tax. Because of those actions, the city was able to recently qualify for close to $1 million in grant funding.

City council meetings back then were held inside a trailer house on Athens Street. In later years, City Hall was moved to a pavilion, which later burned, destroying many city records in the process.

Roman Forest had a golf course and a country club featuring a 5-star restaurant. The country club burned around the same time as the pavilion fire.

US 59 in those days was a two-lane road where Loop 494 is located today. The town had a small store for convenience items but most shopping was done in Kingwood, Coose said.

“All of a sudden now, this place is growing. All of a sudden, we now have Valley Ranch Town Center,” she said.

She recalls her biggest challenge as mayor at the time was getting council members to show up for meetings.

“The men didn’t like me so they wouldn’t come to the meetings. Three of them would purposely not come so I wouldn’t have a quorum,” she said. “My husband said it was because I was smarter than them.”

Her late husband, Vernon F. Coose, worked for the Houston Weather Bureau. When he was transferred from Fort Worth to the Houston area, the Coose family found the community fo Roman Forest, and they never left.

The Cooses were married for 53 years – sharing two daughters and two sons – when Vernon died of cancer.

“That’s when I was mayor and I resigned because he wanted me by his side every minute. Guys are that way, I guess,” she said.

These days, Coose, who is now blind, spends her days waiting on visits from family and friends, including daughters who live nearby, and listening to audio books.

“I don’t like to watch TV. I used to read the newspaper every day until my vision became so bad that I could no longer read. Thankfully I have audio books and they are wonderful,” she said. “I never thought I would make it, nor did I want to be, 100 years old.”

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