Local Obituaries

Researcher, activist Richard Rosichan dies at 74

Ellen and Richard Rosichan raised a family of three daughters in Miami Beach.
Ellen and Richard Rosichan raised a family of three daughters in Miami Beach. Miami Herald file

In the days before social media, Richard Rosichan went viral.

In letter after letter to newspapers like the Miami Herald, Rosichan, a former librarian, researcher and political candidate opined on, well, a little of everything:

The so-called required categories for Americans to travel to Cuba should be clarified, he wrote in a letter to the editor published by the Herald in June 2015.

Two years earlier, fed up with negative campaign ad mailings in Miami Beach, his home for decades, the former Miami City Commission and Miami-Dade County mayoral candidate, took to his keyboard in disgust. My recycling bin thanks all of the candidates for having kept it so well fed.

Rosichan, who died Feb. 17 at 74 after battling pancreatic cancer, complained because he cared.

As a result, Rosichan “was the true, community-driven civil conscience volunteer. He made Miami a better place. We’re better off because Richard Rosichan lived here,” said former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré.

Most so-called leaders in South Florida are egotistical, fortune-seeking, self-aggrandizing people with little, if any, ethical standards. Most of them have done more bad than good here. The Miami Herald has contributed to the problem with its near-endless list of endorsements — oops, recommendations — of candidates for public office who have been disgraced, Rosichan wrote in a letter to the editor published by the Herald in 2011.

“Depending on the topic, if he saw a wrong he was very passionate about, he would write about it to see it corrected,” said his wife of more than 50 years, former teacher Ellen Rosichan.

He felt the U.S. should have relations with Cuba. He opposed the death penalty. He was fed up with unnecessary tolls and our “crazy roads,” his wife said.

One time, his wife said, Rosichan spotted someone disabled struggling to enter a local Walgreens near his 1933-built Miami Beach home. He took action. “When he went to the local Walgreens, if it was not ADA-compliant, he complained about that and they made it ADA-compliant. He himself did not need it.”

The Miami News in a 1988 editorial called Richard Rosichan and his opponent Ricardo Samitier in the mayor’s race “two naive idealists.” But the paper recommended a vote for either one of them rather than incumbent and winner Steven Clark. “Anyone would do,” they wrote.

Some looked at him as odd. The Miami News, in a 1988 editorial, called Rosichan and his opponent Ricardo Samitier in the mayor’s race, “two naive idealists.” But the paper recommended a vote for either one of them rather than incumbent and winner Steven Clark. “Anyone would do,” the editorial said.

One of Rosichan’s great passions was viewing solar eclipses. He wound up chasing them the world over — from India to the Philippines, from Siberia to Patagonia. His first trip to see one was to Virginia Beach in 1970. Over the years, he, his wife and daughters would travel to Argentina, Russia, Hawaii and Canada, among other places.

“Why do you go all over for something that lasts two to three minutes?” Ellen heard from quizzical folks. “It’s not just the event itself. It’s the ambience. The expectation and the excitement,” she said.

He had eclectic tastes, collecting books, records, antique newspapers. His music tastes ranged from classical to classical rock, reggae, folk music and the alternative tunes played by University of Miami station WVUM (90.5 FM) — much to the delight of his young daughters.

No one messed with some of his favorite diversions, like the Herald’s comic pages, without hearing from him. Having brought up three wonderful daughters, I ask you to please consider dumping Cathy, which makes women out to be airheads,” he wrote to the Herald in 2010.

Born May 10, 1941, in Pittsburgh, Rosichan boarded a plane in Montreal for Miami in 1960. His father had accepted a transfer to lead the Miami branch of the Jewish Federation.

Miami was a cultural shock, he wrote in the Herald’s Miami Stories series in 2011.

“I can count on my fingers the number of Southern accents I’ve ever heard here, yet Miami was just as rigidly segregated as any town in Alabama,” the lifelong member of the ACLU wrote in his Miami Story. He went to the Miami Beach Auditorium to hear Eleanor Roosevelt speak. President-elect John F. Kennedy was in the stands at the Orange Bowl the first time Rosichan found himself inside the stadium.

“The first Cuban cafeterias, on Flagler Street, charged nine cents for a café Cubano. … What hasn’t changed in those 50 years? Not much. Café Cubano is still sold in those little white cups, and is still cheap. I don’t think the nature of politics here has changed much, either, but I’ll leave that one alone.”

Rosichan served for a time on the Miami Planning Board and wrote two novels, including the self-published Alicia: Tales of the Prado, in 2015.

“His father was a wonderful leader of the Jewish community here for many years and Richard learned from his father the importance of civic involvement,” said Ferré, a six-term Miami mayor from 1973 to 1985. “Gov. Bob Graham is right. The problem with people in Florida and in Miami-Dade, in particular, is the lack of civic involvement in the community. Richard Rosichan was the kind of man that we desperately need more of in these difficult times.”

In addition to his wife, Rosichan is survived by his daughters Rebecca and Lori Rosichan and Amy Rosichan-Nader and five grandchildren. Services were held. Donations can be made to the Humane Society of Greater Miami or the American Cancer Society.

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