Over the years, I’ve experienced the loss of many close friends and relatives, but recently, when I got word that my former employer and mentor, Roswell S. Bosworth Jr., had died while vacationing in the British Virgin Islands, my heart stopped for a moment in disbelief. The shock still hasn’t worn off.
“Ros,” as he was known by all, passed away on Feb. 7, at the age of 90. He had just celebrated that milestone birthday this past September with an intimate party among family and close friends in his backyard on Hope Street.
Ros Bosworth meant a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, he was someone extraordinary … a man who gave new meaning to “power of the pen.” He was particularly adept at writing editorials and commentaries, two of his greatest strengths.
Like his father (the late Roswell S. Bosworth Sr.) before him, Ros Jr. was a man whose intellect and above-board propensity for crackerjack journalism was unrivaled. I was fortunate to have worked for both men during my career, and I thank the Good Lord every day for that opportunity.
When I first walked through the door at 1 Bradford St. as a teenager at Colt Memorial High School, I was nervous at the prospect of working as a cub reporter for the Bosworths. I didn’t know what to expect. I do remember clearly that Ros Jr. told me “if you want to make it in this profession someday, make sure you get the facts straight, always spell a person’s name correctly, and get both sides of the story.” I never forgot that.
At times, it was a challenge working with Ros Jr. but I admired his persistence in getting his point across. He knew the Bristol community better than anyone, inside and out, so naturally, I tried to follow his lead. In the newspaper business, Ros was a giant among men. He was never afraid to call a spade a spade, and he loved a good argument. He could hold his own with anyone, young or old.
In a 1970s interview with Ros’ close friend, the late Rev. Canon Delbert W. Tildesley, rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church for three decades, Ros’ name came up in the conversation.
“Ros has always been an astute observer of everything that goes in this town,” Canon Tildesley said at the time. “He’s been a great credit to this church, and I’m happy to call him my friend.”
Although I was only a junior in high school when I started covering local sports, Ros Jr. saw my potential and later promoted me to sports editor of the then Phoenix- Times Newspapers. In my first years at the paper, linotype was the mainstay method in setting type to print the newspaper. I look back on it now in total amazement. Again, the Bosworths were right there at the forefront of making the Bristol Phoenix and its sister East Bay papers worth reading.
As time went on, Ros Jr., among his many talents and contributions, helped develop the “Portuguese Page,” a weekly addition in the Phoenix, which turned out to be the voice of Bristol’s expanding Portuguese population. That section was in the capable hands of Ros’ longtime friend and editor, Luis Martins.
He also became close allies with good friends and local icons Hildeberto “Herbie” Moitoso, and the late Dr. Manuel L. Da Silva and Frederico “Fred” Pacheco, among others. Ros always reached out to others in forming lasting relationships.
There are so many more instances that I could touch upon regarding Ros Bosworth and what he meant to his profession and his beloved town of Bristol. He loved the Bristol Fire Department. He loved the Bristol Rotary Club. And he loved the Bristol Fourth of July Celebration.
Fourth of July was always special to Ros Bosworth Jr. He was a past Fourth of July Committee general committee chairman, and Chief Marshal of the 1981 Fourth of July Parade. In recent years, he and his wife, Marcia, would host a wonderful pre-parade get-together at his home along the parade route, where close friends and family gathered in the true spirit of the Fourth of July.
During Bristol’s 225th Fourth of July Celebration, Ros helped spearhead a committee to erect a monument at Independence Park for those Bristolians who served in the War of Independence. It was one of his greatest triumphs.
Longtime friend and former Bristol YMCA/Hog Island Day Camp Director Hector Massa said Ros Bosworth Jr. was the consummate professional.
“I remember Ros in high school,” he said. “He was a sophomore when I was a senior. He was very active and popular. Later in life, when he became publisher and editor of the Phoenix, I always admired his ability to get the local news out in a timely fashion each week. He was a great credit to this community.”
Aside from his career in journalism, Ros Bosworth always put family first, starting with Marcia Bosworth, his wife of 42 years. Together, they formed an inseparable bond and did everything together. He was also very fond of his cherished white West Highland Terrier, “Bobby,” whom he took for a stroll through town on a regular basis.
Ros’ daughter, Barbara, holds a special place in her heart for her dad.
“I am grateful to my father (and mother and grandparents) that they did their best to raise my brother and me without the common prejudices of the 1950s and ‘60s,” she noted. “I am also grateful to my father for the strong interests I inherited from him, such as a love of history, politics, writing, architecture, design, music, landscape, and weather.”
Barbara’s husband, Tim Clemens, also worked for the Phoenix-Times Newspapers under Ros many years ago.
“I'll always appreciate Ros' deep connection to the community, its heritage and history,” he said. “His wide-ranging interests were always apparent, and made a strong impression on me when I began my journalism career at the Phoenix-Times newspapers nearly 40 years ago. We shared a strong interest in local history, and I still have fond memories of a trip I made with him on a day off to explore an abandoned World War II gun emplacement in Little Compton. It was an important piece of Rhode Island history, and I am grateful he shared it with me.”
I’ll miss Ros Bosworth, not just from our newspaper backgrounds, but the friendship we developed these past 56 years. I’ll always remember what he told me the night of his 90th birthday party: “My father lived to be 100, and we celebrated that occasion right here in this backyard.” I thought to myself, the way he looks and feels, he’ll have a great chance of reaching that plateau. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
Taking a page from his father’s glorious past, RSB Jr. left behind a legacy that will long live in the annals of this fair community. He will be dearly missed.