Dr. Irwin Charles “Irv” Rosen, 93, passed away surrounded by his wife and family on Wednesday, December 7, 2016.
Irv was born in Brooklyn on December 15, 1922, the only child of Jack and Lillian (Cohn) Rosen. While in New York, Irv's love of Broadway plays and especially musicals was nurtured when he attended matinees with his mother, his fondest of childhood memories. He cherished the memory of his father taking him to see the 1927 Yankees play. At ten, his parents moved the family to Pittsburgh to be closer to relatives during the early years of the Great Depression. Irv grew up in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, where the family lived together with Irv's grandmother. A precocious child, he started school and was quickly elevated two grades and later skipped a third year.
He attended the University of Pittsburgh on a full scholarship at age 15. Irv played trumpet in the Pitt Marching Band and he also found lifelong friends at the University newspaper, where he served as editor-in-chief. Irv’s studies varied at Pitt and nearing graduation with an undeclared major, he discovered he had the most credits in Psychology. He was fond of saying, “I didn’t choose my major, my major chose me.” The foundation for his life’s professional passion and his abiding love of words and language were cultivated during these years. After graduation, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and was ultimately stationed in England. A plaque he wrote honoring the 38 schoolchildren killed in a tragic aircraft accident still stands at Freckleton, near the former RAF Warton airbase. On March 17, 1945, at a pub in Lytham, Irv met Betty Horne, the woman who would change his life. With music playing and Irv boisterously singing along, she let it be known, “The Yank is singing the wrong words.” A romance ignited in a mutual love of music and words. Irv and Betty courted in the Lake District and Lancashire, and became engaged in February 1946, shortly before he was shipped back to America. She immigrated 16 months later, and they were married on June 22, 1947. They lived in Pittsburgh while Irv was in graduate school and they had their first child, Lawrence “Larry” on October 27, 1949. Irv took advantage of the GI Bill to earn his PhD in Psychology in 1952, the same year the Menninger Clinic announced the creation of a new post-doctoral program in clinical psychology.
Irv, Betty, and Larry moved to Topeka for what they thought would be two years and never left. A second son, Eric, was born May 25, 1953. Irv was offered a job on staff at Menninger at the conclusion of his fellowship and began what he called a “dream career". A third son, Donald “Don” was born November 22, 1956.
A puzzle enthusiast and avid reader, he regularly completed cryptoquotes and the New York Times crossword puzzle late into life. He spent many Sundays in his younger years playing tennis at Hughes courts. His love of theater led to years of involvement with Topeka Civic Theatre, where he served as president. He and his friend Jerry Katz wrote songs for special occasions and people in the community, which brought as much pleasure to Irv as they provided to those the songs honored. Most Augusts found the Rosen family vacationing in Colorado at their beloved YMCA of the Rockies.
Irv's professional life was deeply gratifying to him and those whose lives he touched. Patients, students, colleagues, and supervisees all benefited greatly from his utter human decency, depth, and commitment. His work environment allowed him to do what he could not have done anywhere else, and the faith shown in him was returned by his dedication of 50 years to the Menninger mission. Irv was in the first cohort of psychologist/psychoanalysts trained in the United States. He quickly distinguished himself in whatever role he took on, and ultimately became Director of the Outpatient Department in 1974, a position he held for 20 years. A widely respected author, Irv won the Best Paper Award from the American Psychoanalytic Association at the age of 87.
Irv's social and professional activities were what most people saw, but his dedication and his deep love of Betty and his family stands out most. Irv and Betty suffered greatly with the loss of their oldest son Larry but that loss led to an even fuller capacity for love of family and friends. He openly and enthusiastically embraced his daughters-in-law Libby and Laurie. He took unbridled delight in the births and lives of his six grandchildren, Paul (Kari), Jacob (Jaime), Mark (Brandi), Tom, Graham and Merritt and felt the loss when his granddaughter, Laura was stillborn in 1980. Seven great-grandchildren, Brooke, Liliana, Carson, Jack, Mira, Kinley and Chloe brought him tremendous joy and his ongoing interest in their lives and passions brought great joy as he met each of them at their developmental level.
Irv saw the good in people, and people saw that Irv saw what was good in them. As he said shortly before he entered hospice, "Memories are unforgettable, but people are irreplaceable." Irv is irreplaceable.
Services honoring Irv Rosen will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, December 12, 2016, Temple Beth Sholom, 4200 SW Munson, Topeka, KS 66604. Burial will follow at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Memorial contributions in Irv’s honor can be made to Menninger Statue Pocket Park Fund c/o Topeka Community Foundation, 5431 SW 29th Street, Topeka, Kansas 66614 or Temple Beth Sholom.
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