I am aware that there would be no All Elders United for Justice without the vision, leadership and guidance of Vic Rosenthal. This is my goodbye and thank you to Vic Rosenthal. Sadly, Vic passed away March 28, 2023 at the age of 68. Cancer took his life, but not his spirit and commitment to justice issues.
If you have read this far you have already taken the plunge into the river (flow) of life experience that is Stories and Journeys.
Last year, Chloe Peter, writing for TMC Publications, wrote a feature article on All Elders. For this article she interviewed Vic Rosenthal; Leif Grina, the President of Minneapolis Regional Retirees Council (MRRC) AFL-CIO; and myself. This article appeared in the Messenger, Connector and Monitor. That article still exists online.
There is a back story to my awareness of and experience with Vic.
As an MRRC member I was invited to participate in a focus group organized and facilitated by Vic. It was one of several focus groups conducted by Vic across Minnesota. The purpose of these focus groups was to gauge interest in and the need for forming an organization like All Elders.This would be my only in-person meeting with Vic. Once Vic and his collaborators were done with focus groups, they concluded that there are interests and needs that could be addressed through an organization like All Elders.
Inspired by this focus group experience, I returned to my Greater Longfellow neighborhood. I started submitting a monthly notice to the Messenger announcing Elder Voices (Telling Our Stories) meeting at Turtle Bread. A small group open to whomever showed up.
I remember being contacted by Tom Beer, part of the leadership of MRRC. He wanted to know if I would be interested in serving on a steering committee to guide Vic in determining next steps toward forming an organization like All Elders. I said yes. Next I told Tesha M. Christensen of TMC Publications that I said yes to this request. Hence, the reference at the end of each Stories and Journeys column that I serve on what is now the leadership team of All Elders.
I remember going through a period of being disenagaged from All Elders and much of the other parts of my life. Cancer had taken the life of my brother. I needed to take time to absorb what had happened to my beloved brother and grieve his loss.
Apparently, during this time Vic was experiencing his own medical issues which at one point caused him to be hospitalized. I became aware of this as I was slowly and tentatively starting to re-engage with the All Elders agenda. During this time, I was experiencing my own health events. Nonetheless I was able to participate in a Zoom leadership team meeting – my first in several months. Little did I know it would be the last time I would see and hear Vic.
Shortly there after the leadership team received a Google Groups email announcing that due to his medical condition Vic could no longer do the work on justice issues to which he had dedicated his life. He had made the decision to enter hospice care. Next I received an email containing an obituary for Vic. He had died. It told me the date, time and location for his funeral service and shiva. Vic was Jewish. I was able to live stream the funeral service. His obituary appeared in several publications along with tributes and rememberances, including from Governor Walz.
So, I say goodbye Vic and thank you for always being you. My perception of Vic is that he never thought anything was about him. He saw himself as an organizer and enabler of others in the pursuit of justice. It was always about process. Thank you for facilitating that focus group that inspired me to start Elder Voices, and later accepting me as part of the leadership team of All Elders.
Today All Elders United for Justice is a registered non-profit with the state of Minnesota. It has bylaws. A common interest in redressing Ageism. It has a bank account. An executive committee and temporary Board of Directors. A website is in the works. Jonathan Rose is executive director. We seek to fill the void left by Vic by pursuing our mission as out lined in the bylaws.
So, dear reader, who is someone in your life who has inspired you to do something you never imagined you would be doing? Tell yourself, tell others or tell me.
In gratitude. Rest in peace, Vic.
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