Alvin Rosensweet, whose long career in journalism spanned decades and included coverage of everyone from sports figures to Winston Churchill, died Tuesday, Oct. 20. He was 99.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Rosensweet began his career with the Dayton Daily News. He held a sports writing job with the Columbus Dispatch while studying journalism at the Ohio State University.
But he took a break from journalism after college to become a movie extra in California. Returning to Ohio, he eventually found work as a reporter for the Dayton Herald and later the Dayton Journal Herald.
He moved to Pittsburgh in 1949 to write for the Post-Gazette, and became an award-winning reporter, winning three Golden Quill Awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania.
According to his son, Thomas, Rosensweet’s Orthodox parents emigrated from Ukraine to Dayton. He was one of five siblings, all whom lived to be older than 90.
Over time, Thomas said, Rosensweet gravitated to the Reform movement and became a member of Rodef Shalom Congregation, where he shared his fondness for the Pirates with Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof.
Jo Rifkin, a former staff writer for The Jewish Chronicle, once interviewed Rosensweet for a story on Jews in the media. After engaging in a game of Jewish geography, she recalled, the two figured out that their families knew each other. In fact, Rifkin’s uncle went to school with Rosensweet.
Over the years, the two remained friendly. When visiting him, Rifkin always brought him his favorite treat —a chocolate milkshake.
Although his eyesight failed in later years due to macular degeneration, Rosensweet stayed connected to the news by radio, and he never missed the weekly reading of The Jewish Chronicle by Radio Information Service, Rifkin said. Upon hearing her stories, he would give her feedback — good and bad. Or he would question her on her tense selection.
“It’s as if I had won the Pulitzer Prize,” when he said something good, Rifkin recalled.
There were favorites in the stories Rosensweet covered over the years. According to his son, his favorite was probably his coverage of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech delivered at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. His next favorite was his coverage of a black family being harassed for trying to move into Mt. Lebanon.
Rosensweet kept his work separate from family life and played down stories he was working on, Thomas said.
“The person who spoke the most during dinner was Walter Cronkite,” Thomas said, because the evening news would be on television.
Although neither of his sons went into journalism, part of their father’s work did connect with them.
“I’m definitely a news junkie,” said Thomas “and my brother is pretty much, too.”
Rosensweet was predeceased by his wife, Beatrice (Perlman) Rosensweet; and siblings, Benjamin, Charles, Esther and Joseph. In addition to son Thomas, of Jersey City, N.J., Rosensweet is survived by son James of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
(Angela Leibowicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 412-687-1003.)