Sorry for the lack of blog posts, I've been away on vacation for a couple of weeks.
I learned of some sad news upon my arrival in the office today. Early this morning, retired Brig. Gen. Fred Rosenbaum passed away in his home, following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 83 years old.
Anyone who knows Fred Rosenbaum may also know of the annual youth camp he founded in 1972, which, to this day, bears his name. Camp Rosenbaum is dedicated to empowering young Oregonians to stay in school, avoid gangs and drugs, and to realize their hopes and dreams.
The genesis for Camp Rosenbaum came out of his own personal challenges as a youngster of the Jewish faith, growing up in Austria. During the German occupation of his homeland in the days leading up to WWII, a young Fred was spirited away in the middle of the night to England, where he would await the arrival of his parents sometime later. Fred's extended family didn't fare as well--his grandparents were later killed in one of the Nazi concentration camps.
He enlisted in the United States Army in 1944 at the age of 17. He hoped to be assigned to the European theater, where he could help push back Axis aggressors, but instead, he ended up fighting in the Pacific.
Two years after his discharge from the Army in 1946, he joined the Oregon Army National Guard, and was assigned as the First Sergeant for HQ Company, 162nd Infantry. After a short stint as an officer with the Washington National Guard, he joined the Oregon Air National Guard in 1953.
He served in various positions before being appointed as the Assistant Adjutant General for Air, in late 1980. He later retired from the military in 1986.
Rosenbaum dedicated his life to the people and the world around him. Organizations such as Portland State University, Congregation Beth Israel, The Housing Authority of Portland--where he served as Chairman for 13 years--and various other civic groups benefitted from his insight, vision and wisdom.
Never wanting the world to forget the challenges which brought him through his life's work, he also played a major role in the fruition of the Portland Holocaust Memorial, and remained active in other civic and political groups, right up to the very end of his life.
Ever the entrepreneur, he founded the insurance brokerage, Rosenbaum Financial, in 1957, a company which is now run by his son, Mark.
Those who worked with him knew he was very "hands-on". Fred preferred to pick up the phone and discuss ways of improving how things were done--be it CEOs of companies, the Mayor of Portland, or senior leadership in the Oregon National Guard--they all eventually got a phone call from Fred. And they were better because of it.
But he did all these things in a way that made you want to help. He was, and continues to be through his legacy, the "Great Motivator". He made an art out of motivating people to do better, be better, or to do more. But he did more than that. He led by example. A quick scan of his six-page biography reveals more accomplishments and accolades than several men combined. His list of awards alone fills an entire page.
In 2010, his namesake youth camp, Camp Rosenbaum, will celebrate its 40th anniversary. With about 100-160 youngsters from Oregon and Southwest Washington attending this camp every year for the last four decades, the reach and influence of Fred Rosenbaum's vision to improve the world around him is overwhelming.
My wife and I were privileged to have spoken to Gen. Rosenbaum and Jane, his wife of 55 years, just before our Hawaii trip this past December. They were both in good spirits, looking forward to the upcoming holidays. Fred even joked with my wife about our upcoming one-year anniversary, saying that by marrying her, I had "married up".
I entitled this post "The world got a little dimmer today." Let me clarify: that statement is only to mark the passing of a great man who did great things while he was with us. There is no doubt in my mind that those of us who were touched and influenced by his kindness, warmth and generosity, will ensure a bright future for his enduring legacy.
Farewell Fred Rosenbaum. You will be missed by all.
Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager
Postscript: A public memorial ceremony for Fred Rosenbaum is scheduled for Noon on Tuesday, Jan. 19, in Building 375 (Rosenbaum Hangar), at the Portland Air National Guard Base in Portland, Oregon. Members of the public are welcome. Please bring personal identification to access the Air Base. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the following organizations:
- The Camp Rosenbaum Fund: c/o GREAT, 449 NE Emerson St., Portland, OR 97221, Attn: Erin Parks
- Portland State University Foundation: P.O. Box 243, Portland, OR 97043
- American Cancer Society: Online at http://www.cancer.org/, look for the "Gifts in Memory" link
- Congregation Beth Israel: 1972 NW Flanders St., Portland, OR 97209
Special thanks to KGW News Channel 8 for their wonderful tribute video to Fred Rosenbaum: