Rosen family mourns, is grateful


Thursday, April 19
He kept the twinkle in his eye and the smile on his face.

Early Saturday morning, April 14, Gary Rosen lost his courageous, three-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

With his death, the world lost a talented performer, a community lost a unique and special member and a family lost a committed, caring and loving husband and father.

Gary's family -- his wife, Mary, and his children Lela, Penn and Eliza -- want to thank everyone who has helped in so many ways these past months. The family is grateful for all the community has given.

Gary's family would like the community to know that Gary loved Brattleboro. With his successful career as a performer the family could have lived many other places. But years ago, when Gary and Mary first moved to Brattleboro, their first child was born and he was very ill, and, after a short time, he passed away. The community came together and supported them then, and for that alone Gary and Mary were eternally grateful. After Gary told people about his illness the community came together and supported them again.

Mary Rosen would like to assure every member of the community that Gary lived life to the fullest and found joy in every day, despite his disease. "Gary always said, 'It's not going to get my spirit.' And it didn't. He kept the twinkle in his eye, and the smile on his face, and he overcame the fear of knowing what the day might bring."

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His children will remember him for his courage in the face of this terrible illness, and his determination to continue living life to the fullest. The family continued to hit the road, swapping Gary's trademark Suburban for a 1988 Ford Econoline wheelchair van they dubbed "the Fun Bus" because of how it shimmies and shakes down the road, and they traveled to Disney World, to Gary's favorite places on Cape Cod and, most importantly, to Lela's, Penn's and Eliza's musical and theatrical performances. When something important happened in the family, Gary was always there, and for this he will be greatly missed.

After being diagnosed with ALS, Gary continued to press ahead as far as he could. With his children he recorded and produced two award-winning CDs. He continued to tour, taking center stage at Boston's First Night celebration, and he returned to many of his favorite venues, patiently teaching his children his craft as they increasingly carried more of the show.

Mary and Gary's children are grateful for the experiences they shared during this journey together, a journey they took with family and friends. This includes the many years before Gary's illness -- years when he made the most of his life. He found a balance that allowed him to be a successful performer and deeply involved parent, and it was his role as a parent that made him the happiest.

There are too many individuals to thank, but one person deserves special recognition for all of her hard work during what often seemed like impossible times. In April of 2005 Bonnie Stearns pulled together a "circle of care," and what a circle it has been. Since Bonnie held the first meeting, the family has welcomed and loved all the support that everyone provided. Because of Bonnie's initiative, patience, determination and understanding of what was needed when, Gary continued to live comfortably in his home.

The family would also like to thank Ron Hoffman and Compassionate Care ALS for all of the support provided to Gary through his battle with this illness. Ron and his organization provided educational and medical resources, living aids and assistance, and, most importantly, instruction, guidance and intimate dialogue with Gary, his family and his caregivers and friends.

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 or through the Covey and Allen Funeral Home in Wilmington.

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


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