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Gary Rosen

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BRATTLEBORO -- Gary Rosen, prolific composer of over a hundred children’s songs and a family performer known for his high-energy shows, died peacefully at home in Brattleboro Saturday, April 14, 2007, with his loving wife, Mary, at his side.

More than all the awards and accolades he received over three decades of performances, Gary was most proud of the academic, musical, and theatrical accomplishments of his three children, who often joined him on stage. Lela, 19, Penn, 17, and Eliza, 15, will continue his legacy with concerts, recordings and performances of their own.

Gary died after a courageous three-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” The Brattleboro Reformer, National Public Radio stations, and countless newspapers wrote about his fight against this disease, which he announced he had in February 2005 in a Boston Globe feature article entitled, “The Show Goes On.”

On May 15, 2005, musicians from around the country came together in Brattleboro to celebrate Gary’s life and achievements. John Potter of the Brattleboro Reformer called the “Rosenfriends and Gould n’ Stearns” concert the top local music event of the year. It would also be one of Gary’s favorite public performances.

Gary’s humor and wit brought smiles and giggles to millions of children and parents alike. Gary performed more than 3,000 concerts in 45 states, missing only Hawaii, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Dakota and South Dakota. He won more that three-dozen awards and honors, including proclamations from the State of Vermont and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. His recordings won multiple gold awards from National Parenting Publications and Parent’s Choice.

Gary produced award-winning CDs as a solo performer, and appeared twice at the White House. He received a standing ovation at the New York Public Library where he gave a concert on the 75th birthday of Winnie the Pooh only four days after Sept. 11, 2001. He also proudly sang the National Anthem on two occasions at Fenway Park for his favorite team, the Boston Red Sox.

Gary was born on March 24, 1947, in New Haven, Conn. He grew up in Amherst, Mass., where his father taught physics at the University of Massachusetts. He graduated from Amherst Regional High School in 1964 and went on to Oberlin College, where he received a bachelor’s of art in sociology in 1968. His Oberlin band, The Ant Trip Ceremony, released an album which decades later became a collector’s item.

Gary moved to New York City after college, where he worked as a music group therapist. He won a volunteer award for his outreach programs to the Manhattan Psychiatric Hospital. In New York he met Bill Shontz, and they formed Rosenshontz in 1974. They went on to produce six award-winning albums, a greatest hits compilation, three successful videos, and two book cassettes with Random House.

With Rosenshontz, Gary performed at such notable venues as New York’s Town Hall, Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Colonial Theatre, Hartford’s Bushnell Auditorium, Chicago’s Poplar Creek, Detroit’s Meadowbrook, Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall, Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall (with the Pittsburgh Symphony), Denver’s Poetcher Hall, Dallas’s McFadden Auditorium and Seattle’s Moore Theatre. Rosenshontz was also featured on a Disney Television Special, and appeared on NBC’s Today Show and the Regis and Kathy Lee Show. They made live radio appearances on Robert J. Lurtsema’s Morning Pro Musica and Studs Terkel’s radio show in Chicago.

Gary leaves his beloved wife of 22 years, Mary Shea Rosen, and their three children, Lela, Penn and Eliza. He also leaves his brother, Robert Rosen, of Amherst, Mass.; his sister Ellen Tadd, in Warwick, Mass.; many nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles; and his mother-in-law, Virginia Shea, of Bennington. He was pre-deceased by his son, Jaime Shea Rosen; and his father and mother, Philip Rosen and Jeanne Penn Rosen.

Gary requested that funeral services be private. A public memorial service will be held at a later date. Cards, notes, and special memories are welcome and can be shared through e-mail to [email protected] or by through the Covey and Allen Funeral Home, 44 East Main Street, Wilmington, Vermont, 05363.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Gary may be made to either the Rosen Fund, in care of The Trust Company of Vermont, PO Box 1280, Brattleboro Vermont, 05302 or Compassionate Care ALS, Inc., PO Box 1052 West Falmouth Massachusetts, 02574.

For directions or to send the family personal e-mail condolences please visit www.sheafuneralhomes.com.

Arrangements are under the care of Shea Family Funeral Homes, Wilmington Chapel.

Information provided by the funeral home.
Published in Bennington Banner on Apr. 18, 2007
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