By Rafaela Prifti/
On the last Thursday in September, Rose Karagjozi was laid to rest at the Pine Lawn Cemetery, next to her husband, the late chairman of Varta, Agim Karagjozi. She combined the best values of the Albanian traditions and the fine qualities of the American feminism while always adhering to her own convictions. At an early age, she and her family joined a number of anti-communist dissidents who fled Albania at the end of World War II. They were all forced to live temporarily in refugee camps in Europe. During this impressionable period in Rose’s young life, her parents and family members were close to prominent figures such as Mithat Frasheri and others who campaigned for the national Albanian movement.
In 1949, Rose and the Peshkopia family had crossed the Atlantic Ocean to live permanently as free citizens in the United States. Her earlier experiences of fleeing the tight grip of communism, and then gaining awareness of the national ideals had already shaped her political outlook. The introduction to American culture must have provided the opportune conditions for her to become the woman she was meant to be. In her public schooling as well as the community life, she embraced the qualities that best describe an era that brought the fight for human rights and civil liberties on the forefront of US political and cultural life. Although still a young adult at the time of her union with Agim Karagjozi, she was a determined and out-spoken woman.
Soon after the marriage, the young couple joined the ranks of Vatra as an unaffiliated and apolitical organization founded on the ideals of the Albanian patriotic spirit. Their partnership with Vatra was a lifetime commitment. When Agim Karagjozi began the duties of the Chairman, it was Rose who took on the responsibilities of a growing family and hosted the meetings of Vatra at their house in Floral Park. The Pan-Albanian Federation had moved from Boston to New York where there was no office space available for a number of years. During that time, my father Naum Prifti, who was Vatra’s Secretary for over a decade, recalls that Rose graciously welcomed the members of Vatra and fellow countrymen who visited with the Karagjozis and spoke passionately about her roots and childhood years in Gjirokaster. In his notes, he writes, “It was remarkable to see her extend the same hospitality to her husband’s partners and Vatra’s colleagues, as she did to the friends of their children and even grandchildren.”
Rose Karagjozi was more than a supportive wife, and a reliable partner of Vatra’s Chairman for close to two decades. She was a valuable contributing member of the Pan-Albanian Federation with which she had aligned her personal mission of ending the reign of communism, and with which she shared her husband, her family and her life.
Vatra was Rose’s second family and Vatra will forever miss her ROSE!