Singer-songwriter Gary Rosen dies at 60

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(Host) Brattleboro singer-songwriter Gary Rosen has died at the age of sixty after a three-year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

VPR’s Susan Keese has more.

(Keese) As Rosenshontz, Gary Rosen and his singing partner Bill Shontz breathed new life into family music by creating kids songs that parents liked too.

After the duo broke up, Rosen continued to write and record award winning CD’s. He sang and jumped around onstage with his funny hats and stuffed animals at thousands of concerts around the country. He appeared twice at the White house, and twice sang the National Anthem for his much-loved Boston Red Sox.

But in a written statement Rosen’s wife Mary said it was his three teenage children that gave Rosen the most pride. His daughters Lela and Eliza and son Penn often accompanied him on stage.

In a 2005 VPR interview, Rosen described how he and Mary told the children he had Amyotrophic lateral Sclerosis, or A.L.S.

(Rosen) “I told them it was very, very serious and that I wasn’t going to get better. And you know, everybody cried and we all hugged and kissed. And then two days later we went out and did great concerts. It’s almost like the concerts were a therapy.”

(Keese) Rosen’s son Penn agreed.

(Penn) “When he gets on stage his face just lights up and you can sense that. He kind of forgets the ALS for a moment and just sings for these kids.”

(Keese) After sharing the news, Rosen and his kids recorded a new version of a song he’d written to encourage children with disabilities.

(Lela Rosen, singing) “We’ve got a dad who’s special to know. Although he’s been sick, he’s still doing his show. We say, Don’t you feel bad that you’ve got to slow down?’
(Rosen) “Oh no, not when I’ve got love all around.
Don’t go feeling sorry for me/ I may be sick, but I can see that I’m… going to be the best that I can… yes I am, yes I am….”

(Keese) After the disease made it impossible for Rosen to perform, a volunteer circle of care,’ composed of neighbors and friends, made it possible for him to keep living at home. He even managed to attend his children’s musical performances.

His wife Mary says he never lost the twinkle in his eye.

The family is planning a memorial service at a later date.

For VPR news, I’m Susan Keese.

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