Earlier this month the Maine Children’s Alliance lost a friend and founding leader when John “Jack” Rosser passed away in Bristol, FL. As was stated in his obituary, “Jack had a passion for education and helping people reach their utmost potential. He approached his career with dignity, professionalism, and a sense of humor.” Jack was instrumental in creating this organization and shaping our mission to improve the well-being of children, youth and families. We are grateful for his profound legacy and extend our deepest condolences to Jack’s family.
The tribute below was written by Robert “Rusty” Atwood, a longtime friend of Jack’s and a current MCA board member (former board chair), and includes remembrances from MCA board members.
I first met Jack Rosser not long after he came to Maine in the mid-1970’s as Commissioner of Mental Health and Corrections under then-Governor James B. Longley. We were introduced by Jack’s wife, Leslie, who was a faculty colleague of mine at Cony High School in Augusta and who saw us as kindred spirits. Leslie recognized our shared interest in education, sports (particularly basketball) and by extension, kids.
Over the course of the ensuing four decades, we remained in touch discussing the Red Sox & Phillies, Celtics and 76ers, NCAA tournaments over many years and even attended a couple of Final Fours. Jack’s expertise in education was evident as he was asked to serve on, and to chair, several committees and commissions to address funding and other inequities and issues in public education. Along the way I came to recognize Jack as an “old school” educator and staunch advocate for kids in the very best sense of the term. Inevitably, legislative politics would create difficulty in achieving the necessary results, but in hindsight, the recommendations of Jack’s working groups were “spot on.”
As a Founding Board Member of the Maine Children’s Alliance, Jack Rosser helped lead the State of Maine from decision making by opinion and influence to a data driven process exemplified by MCA’s Kid’s Count publications. He did everything he could to bring attention and service to the poorest and most challenged in our communities. His influence will be felt for years to come. – Bill Cumming, MCA Board Chair.
I later worked alongside Jack and Harvey Berman as they built the Spurwink School, Foundation and later Institute into a leading social service agency in Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island – supporting kids and adults with developmental challenges with a continuum of care. He was a tireless champion for this often under-served population and used his considerable intellect and influence at the State House to affect meaningful change and improvement in the lives of those in need.
I have only “met” Jack Rosser by knowing two of his protégés, but their contributions to Maine children with great needs have been extraordinary. Jack’s inspiration lives on. – Margaret Leitch Copeland, MCA Board Vice-Chair
While a proud “Philly guy” originally, Jack embraced Maine completely and became a trusted confidante of several Governors and chief policy makers across the state and region. Jack was a driving force behind the creation of the Maine Children’s Alliance in 1994, served as board Chair for several years and remained “of counsel” to the board until his passing. It was Jack who encouraged me to join the MCA board and who offered key counsel to the Maine Children’s Alliance as it faced the inevitable challenges of a statewide advocacy organization.
Jack Rosser was a true champion for the children of Maine for decades. Jack brought his vast knowledge and deep commitment to children to everything he did. I was honored to serve with him on the Maine Children’s Alliance board for many years. The children of Maine have lost a strong voice with the passing of Jack Rosser. – Shawn Yardley, MCA Board Member
Jack’s impact on education and the services afforded to the most vulnerable in our state cannot be understated. He was relentless in the pursuit of fairness and opportunity for all who were dealt a tough hand in life, regardless of the reason. Those of us who were blessed to know and to work with Jack are now challenged with the task of keeping his spirit and determination as vibrant as it was when he was leading the charge.
Jack was a truly grand person. He excelled at everything he undertook and brought remarkable intelligence, creativity, common sense and enthusiasm to all that he did. His humor was priceless. Jack had great empathy for others less fortunate than himself. He devoted his professional life to children with disabilities and their families. Few have contributed as much to improving the lives of others in Maine and beyond. – Mark Shibles, MCA Board Member
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, June 2, at the Bragdon-Finley Funeral Home,
707 Main St., Monmouth. Messages of condolence may be sent to: http://www.finleyfuneralhome.com.
Donations may be sent in memory of Jack Rosser to:
The Michael J. Fox Foundation
P.O. Box 5014
Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014, or
901 Washington Ave., Suite 100
Portland, ME 04103