Exploring the Biography and  Life of Rosalie Jean Willis, Charles Manson’s First Wife

rosalie jean willis

Rosalie Jean Willis is widely associated with Charles Manson, the notorious American criminal and murderer. Pretty interesting tale. Think of it: When Rosalie met Manson at 15, she had no idea his dark and violent life would turn out. Isn’t it strange how their paths crossed so young?

Early Life

Rosalie Willis was born on January 28, 1937, a frigid winter day. Benwood, West Virginia, was her hometown. She was the third child of Clarence ‘Cowboy’ Willis and Virginia McNich, who also had Amy, Eileen, and a brother named Clarence.

However, Rosalie witnessed her parents’ split at a young age, which shaped her early life. In harsh West Virginia, her father, Clarence, was a coal miner.

Let’s look at 1954, a year of great events. Now living with his mother, Kathleen Maddox, Charles Manson was near Charleston, West Virginia. Luck began weaving its intricate tapestry here. Clarence ‘Cowboy,’ Rosalie’s father, met 20-year-old Charles Manson. The elder Cowboy and the mysterious Manson formed an unlikely bond that would change Rosalie’s life. Isn’t it amazing how seemingly random connections may have such lasting effects?


Name Rosalie Jean Willis
Date of birth28 January 1937
Birth placeMarshall County, West Virginia, USA 
Age70 years
Father NameClarence Willis
SpouseCharles Manson (1955-1958), Jack White(1958-1965), Warren Handley(1984-1998)
ChildrensCharles Manson jr. (1956-1993), Jesse White (1958-1986) and Jeb White (1959-1971)
Date of death 21st August 2009 

Rosalie Jean Willis Career

Rosalie Willis’ career wasn’t great. Her life was mostly average. She wasn’t destined for fame, but that made her story more compelling.

Let’s discuss her meeting Charles Manson. Picture this: Rosalie, 15, was a hospital waitress. She worked a regular job, but she met Manson, a cult leader, in the most unexpected place.

The age gap is obvious. Rosalie, a teenager, encountered Manson, perhaps in his 20s. One of those nuances that makes you wonder what happened after that unexpected meeting.

Rosalie Jean Willis Marriage To Charles Manson

Rosalie Willis was 15 when she met Charles Manson, working as a hospital waitress. Charles was in his 20s when their fortunes first intersected in a hospital.

The context of their marriage is intriguing. Rosalie bravely married Manson despite knowing his criminal past. She had optimism that marriage would transform his life. That aim was unattainable, as history shows. Rosalie filed for divorce three years into their marriage in 1958, realising their irreconcilable differences.

Their fateful wedding took place in January 1955 at the Nazarene Church. Charles’s grandmother, Nancy Ingram, was a devout Church member, therefore the setting was important.

Rosalie was a nurse, while Charles repaired cars and stole them. As they married and moved to Los Angeles, life appeared to change. Charles worked odd jobs and committed little crimes to support them.

Charles enjoyed this time of his life, especially the routine of a day’s work and Rosalie’s soothing presence when he returned home. He admired her as a remarkable woman.

But fate eventually cast a shadow over their joy. Charles was imprisoned for car theft due to his previous history. He spent time at Terminal Island Prison in San Pedro, California. Unfortunately, Rosalie had to face pregnancy alone a year into their marriage.

Despite obstacles, she visited Charles in prison with his mother, Kathleen. Over time, she realised that reform and marriage salvation were increasingly unlikely. Rosalie bravely filed for divorce in July 1957. This turbulent chapter of their lives ended in September 1958 with their legal separation.

Charles Manson and Rosalie’s Child

You know, despite the turbulent path of her first marriage with Charles Manson, Rosalie’s life took another turn when she welcomed a son into the world. They named him Charles Manson Jr., and this momentous event occurred in 1956.

Interestingly, after Rosalie’s separation from Charles Manson, her mother-in-law stepped in as a pillar of support. Together, they took on the daunting task of raising young Charles Jr., effectively shouldering the responsibilities of single parenthood.

In the midst of all this, life had more surprises in store for Rosalie. She embarked on a new chapter, finding love and companionship with another man. It was a second chance at happiness, and she decided to give marriage another shot. It’s remarkable how life can sometimes take unexpected twists, offering opportunities for fresh beginnings even after enduring challenging circumstances.

The arrest of Charles Manson

Rosalie’s first expectation that Charles would change was naive and hopeful. Unfortunately, Charles was arrested for stealing a car, shattering his hope. He crossed state boundaries to get to Los Angeles in the automobile.

This car theft was a felony. When Charles skipped court, things went south. Given his previous background, he soon found himself at Terminal Island prison in San Pedro, California.

Imagine Rosalie’s burden. Just a year after their marriage, she had to navigate pregnancy alone. It shows how life may change unexpectedly.

Rosalie visited her husband in prison often with Kathleen during this difficult time. As time went on, she realised that Charles was unlikely to change and save their marriage in prison. Rosalie decided ending the marriage was the only option, despite its difficulty.

She started seeing another man during this difficult time, giving her hope. Even in the worst circumstances, life offers new starts.

Rosalie Jean Willis Divorce

In filing for divorce, Rosalie Jean Willis made a life-changing decision. On July 9, 1957, this historic step was taken. She began the legal process to divorce Charles Manson.

Since any legal procedure has deadlines, she received her divorce decree on September 10, 1958. This ended their marriage, a turning point in Rosalie’s life as she moved on from her past.

The Second Marriage of Rosalie

Rosalie found comfort and company in Jack White through her disillusionment with her husband Charles Manson’s captivity. After broken hopes, she decided to divorce. Rosalie selected Jack’s path because she was open to new possibilities.

Born from the ashes of the past, their union produced two sons: Jesse J. White, born on February 3, 1958, and Jed White, born on April 4, 1959. Rosalie welcomed childbirth with hope, seeing it as a new beginning.

Jack White became Rosalie’s second husband and a father figure for three sons: two biological and Charles Jr., who would become Jay White in honour of his new father. It appeared like a better chapter had begun as family relationships changed.

Unfortunately, this marriage, though longer than her previous one, had its issues. In 1965, the promising marriage ended. Life throws us curveballs, and Rosalie had her share of them on this rocky voyage.

Rosalie’s Third Husband

Rosalie was willing to try love again after her prior marriages’ ups and downs. She believed she could find happiness with another. Her marriage to Warren Howard Handley, known as Jack, occurred during this time.

Their marriage was a new beginning that lasted. Rosalie and Jack faced life’s hardships and joys together.

But life is unpredictable, and even lasting love tales can change. Rosalie lost Warren, whom she loved, in 1998. It was a touching finish to their voyage. However, Rosalie’s memories of their time together showed the tenacity of the human spirit and the power of love, even as life faced its inevitable twists and turns.

Rosalie Died Of Lung Cancer

We mourn Rosalie Jean Willis’ death, which ended a magnificent journey. More than a decade after losing her third husband in 1998, Rosalie died on August 21, 2009. This Find a Grave record is a sombre reminder of time and life’s frailty.

She died under the shadow of lung cancer, a powerful foe. Rosalie died in her Tucson, Arizona, home, where she had made many memories. Despite many obstacles, she lived a full life until she died at 71.

In quiet Boulder City, Clark County, Nevada, the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery was her final resting place. Rosalie’s life ended here in the cemetery’s solemnity, leaving a legacy of endurance and courage.

In stark contrast, her first husband, Charles Manson, died in Bakersfield on November 19, 2017. He died at 83 after a notorious life. From their tragic meeting until their final parting, their different lives illustrate the unpredictable and intricate nature of human existence.

Putting an end to family name stigma

Let’s explore Rosalie’s grandson Jason Freeman’s interesting struggle to create a family legacy free of the past.

Jason Freeman was born in 1970 to Charles Manson Junior and Ms. Freeman. His name is synonymous with infamy and notoriety. When the name Charles Manson is used, many family members want to avoid its terrible associations. However, Jason chooses to become Charles Manson III, demonstrating his resilience and willingness to change his family’s story.

Jason entered professional sports, specifically boxing and MMA, in an unusual way. His hard work and expertise won him the 2009 championship. Jason’s goals go beyond the ring.

Jason Freeman may have a mission beyond sports accomplishment. Destigmatizing the family name is his ultimate goal. Jason is determined despite the obstacles and preconceptions. His actions demonstrate his commitment to recover and improve his family’s identity.

Jason Freeman’s story of persistence, ambition, and the conviction in personal improvement is inspiring in a world where names matter. He represents optimism and the human ability to change and redeem as he tirelessly rewrites the Manson story.


Q1.Who is Rosalie Jean Willis and how is she related to Charles Manson?

A1.West Virginia girl Rosalie Jean Willis met Charles Manson at 15. Her marriage to Manson ended in divorce owing to his crimes.

Q2. How did Rosalie meet Charles Manson?

A2.While waiting tables at a hospital, Rosalie met Manson, a 20-something. Their meeting was surprising given their ages.

Q3. What setting was Rosalie’s marriage to Charles Manson?

A3.Rosalie married Manson hoping it would change his life, despite knowing his criminal record. She divorced him three years later.

Q4. Did Rosalie and Manson have kids?

A4.Charles Manson Jr. (later Jay White) was their 1956 son.

Q5. What became of Charles Manson following their divorce?

A5.Car theft landed Charles Manson in prison. Rosalie visited him in prison but realised he wouldn’t change, so they divorced.

Q6. How was Rosalie Jean Willis?

A6.At her Tucson home on August 21, 2009, Rosalie died of lung cancer. She was 71 and interred in Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.


In the intriguing tale of Rosalie Jean Willis and her association with Charles Manson, we witness the unpredictability of life’s twists and turns. From their unexpected meeting as a hospital waitress and a cult leader to Rosalie’s hopeful yet ultimately doomed marriage to Manson, her life exemplifies resilience in the face of adversity. Despite enduring the challenges of divorce and raising a son, Rosalie found love again, only for life to present more surprises. Her grandson, Jason Freeman, carries the torch of rewriting their family’s legacy, symbolising the human capacity for change and redemption. Rosalie’s story reminds us that even in the darkest moments, there is room for hope and transformation.

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