Andrew George Rosenberger
of Groton, MA and Concord, NH; 94
The Reverend Andrew George Rosenberger, of Groton, MA and Concord, NH passed away on Friday, May 31, 2013. He was 94. Rev. Rosenberger was married to Willamena "Billie" (Parks) Rosenberger, who died in 2010. He leaves four children: Wilhelmina Gustavson of Exeter, NH, Eric Rosenberger of Concord, NH, Karl Rosenberger of Groton, MA, and Leif Rosenberger of Tampa FL, ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was the brother of the late Henry Rosenberger. Rev. Rosenberger was a descendent of Henry Rosenberger, who together with John Henry Funk, started the Pennsylvania Dutch settlement near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Rev. Rosenberger was born on August 21, 1918 in Oak Park, Illinois, and grew up in Needham, MA. As a boy, Rev. Rosenberger attained the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boys Scouts of America. He attended Needham High School and Culver Military Academy where he was a member of The Black Horse Troop, an elite group of accomplished horsemen. Rev. Rosenberger graduated from Harvard College in the class of 1941, where he was a pole vaulter on the varsity track team. Shortly after his college graduation, Rev. Rosenberger married Willamena Parks, of Medford, MA, who was First Class Marshall and President of her class at Radcliffe College. They were married at Christ Church, Cambridge. The newly-weds lived in Cambridge for three years until Rev. Rosenberger graduated from the Harvard Divinity School in 1944.
On June 25, 1944, Rev. Rosenberger was ordained a Unitarian Minister and started his ministry at the First Parish Church in Northborough, MA. On the evening of December 21, 1945, with the temperature well below zero, a huge ball of fire could be seen at the historic 1808 church, and by dawn the church had burned to the ground. Rev. Rosenberger announced that a new church would be built, and instantly became the church's chief fundraiser, cheerleader, and project manager. The cornerstone for the new church was dedicated on June 27, 1948, and when the new church was completed, it was featured in Life magazine. In 1950, having just recovered from rheumatic fever, Rev. Rosenberger and his family moved to Wellesley, MA where he lived for the next thirty-three Years. During this period, Rev. Rosenberger regained his health and served as interim minister in many Unitarian parishes throughout Massachusetts including Duxbury, Groton, South Natick, Taunton, and Worcester. He also worked with his brother Henry at Nature Food Centres, a national health food retail and mail-order business, and founded Woodfield Farms, a natural snack food business. In 1965 Rev. Rosenberger became minister of the First Parish Church in Groton, MA where he served until he retired.
Rev. Rosenberger was active in a variety of civic causes throughout his life. In 1949, Rev. Rosenberger began serving on the Board of Trustees of the Protestant Guild for the Blind, which was founded in 1946 by the Massachusetts Council of Churches to serve children at Perkins School for the Blind and other visually handicapped and blind men and women confined to their own homes and in nursing homes. Rev. Rosenberger served as Board Chair for over fifty years, greatly expanding the Guild's reach and their range of services. While a resident of Wellesley, he was a Town meeting member and President of the Wellesley School Board. In Groton, Rev. Rosenberger was a founding member of the Unitarian Christian Fellowship, and President of the Groton Council of Churches. He also was an avid boater, a Commodore in the Coast Guard Power Squadron, and loved taking cruises on Vicky, his sport fisherman from the family's summer home in Duxbury, MA.
In addition to his calling as a minister and his civic duties, Rev. Rosenberger was an early advocate of healthy living. He published Eat Your Way to Better Health, a road map to healthy living, organic foods and a balanced lifestyle, in 1961. Today this book is considered to be 20 years ahead of its time. Rev. Rosenberger subsequently lectured throughout the country on health and nutrition.
Rev. Rosenberger's early interest in health and agriculture led him to purchase Hillbrook Orchards, an eighty acre apple orchard in Groton, MA, in 1983. Together with his wife, Rev. Rosenberger fulfilled a long-held desire to work the land, growing apples and peaches, pumpkins and strawberries. Rev. Rosenberger became a true steward of the land and was an ardent conservationist. Hillbrook Orchards became a popular pick-your-own destination for apple lovers from throughout Massachusetts for many years, and Rev. Rosenberger would conduct sun-rise worship services among the apple blossoms from the top of the Orchard's highest hill.