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Jack Rosenberg, 94, of Lincolnwood, IL, died Saturday, December 26, 2020 at Swedish Hospital, Chicago.
Born May 21, 1926 in Pekin, Illinois, he was the son of the late Mollie nee Levey and the late Sam Rosenberg.
He attended Pekin Community High School, where he was the only Jewish student and was elected student council president. He began his media career at age 16 when he applied to the Pekin Daily Times, where publisher F.F. McNaughton had heard about the election. He worked his way up, and Mr. McNaughton soon contended Jack was the youngest sports editor of a daily newspaper in America.
He enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and left for boot camp within weeks of his high school graduation in 1944.
After returning from World War II in 1946, he took college classes and resumed his newspaper career in Pekin. Mr. McNaughton bought Jack his first typewriter - a Royal Standard that he used and treasured throughout his life.
Jack eventually became a sportswriter for the Peoria Journal, where he won top NCAA awards in 1950 and 1952 for best college baseball reporting.
His dream job since the 5th grade was to cover sports for the Chicago Tribune. When he ultimately was offered the job, he reluctantly turned it down because the $100-a-week salary wasn't enough for him to also support his widowed mother. The sports editor told him everyone starts at $100 a week though he promised to look for a work-around in the coming months.
In the meantime, another opportunity arose – this time with the broadcasting branch of Tribune Company – an offer from announcer Jack Brickhouse to work with him at WGN Television and Radio – at $85 a week. Timing is everything - and Jack decided to take the job in January 1954, producing and writing as part of one of the greatest sports departments ever.
As Sports Editor at WGN, he covered the Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Big Ten, and other teams with many of the greats, on-air and behind the scenes.
The clack of "Rosey's" portable typewriter in the background during Cubs broadcasts was part of the soundtrack of summer. He would hang around dugouts, clubhouses, and the front office before games, gathering anecdotes to feed to the announcers throughout the broadcast. He traveled to spring training in Arizona to produce an annual show on the Cubs' prospects. During football season, he covered the Big Ten Game of the Week on Saturdays and the Bears on Sundays.
He met his beloved Mayora Gitlitz in late 1955, proposing within four months and asking if she wanted the ceremony before or after the baseball season. They married on February 5, 1956, a union that lasted 51 years before her death in 2007. They were devoted parents to their children, David and Beth, and delighted grandparents to their six grandchildren.
He loved to share his wisdom with family, whether tips on good writing, how to treat people, or the importance of thanking a favorite teacher. Jack also mentored many in the media or those pondering a life decision, doing his best to support and encourage them.
His long career encompassed a Who's Who of sports and national figures and sweeping changes in broadcasting. In 1962, Jack was part of the WGN team bringing the first trans-Atlantic telecast to Europe – the early moments of a Cubs-Phillies game.
He arranged interviews with Presidents John F. Kennedy in 1961 and Ronald Reagan in 1981, traveling to the White House with Jack Brickhouse for the latter interview to talk baseball. He and Vince Lloyd were tapped in the 1980s to expand Tribune Radio Networks.
One of his biggest career highlights was writing Jack Brickhouse's speech for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on July 31, 1983 as a recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting. The entire speech was three minutes and included the memorable line: "In the fantasy of my dreams, I have imagined myself as the announcer of a Cubs-White Sox World Series, a Series that would last 7 games, with the final game going into extra innings before being suspended because of darkness at Wrigley Field." He concluded with: "Here on this memorable afternoon in Cooperstown, my heart tells me I have traveled the ninety feet from third base to home and scored standing up."
In 1986, he co-authored Thanks for Listening!, a look at Jack Brickhouse's 50 years in broadcasting. He retired in 1999 after 45 years at WGN.
He was involved for many years with the Jack Quinlan golf tournament to raise money for the Chicago Boys and Girls Clubs. He received the B'nai B'rith Centennial Hall of Fame Award for Community Service in 1968.
A Silver Circle Inductee in the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Chicago in 2011, he received the Broadcast Pioneer Award from the Illinois Broadcasters Association in 2012. His name was added to the WGN Radio Walk of Fame in 2017.
He served on the Faculty Board of Directors at Swedish Covenant Hospital, where he received the hospital's Spirit of Compassion Award in 2012. He also assisted in raising funds to create the Mayora Rosenberg Women's Health Center in 2014 at what is now Swedish Hospital.
Accompanied by his son, David, he was thrilled to travel to Washington on Honor Flight Chicago in 2015. And with his children and grandchildren among the thousands of fans, he was honored to throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field in 2007. He was a member of Temple Beth-El in Northbrook for nearly 60 years.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Leonard Rosenberg, and sister, Rosella Shapiro.
Survivors include his son, David (Cindy) Rosenberg of Buffalo Grove, IL; daughter, Beth (Dan) Zweig of Fort Wayne, IN; grandchildren, Abby, Carly, and Jaclyn Rosenberg, and Molly, Laura, and Ethan Zweig; and sister-in-law, Ann (the late Leonard) Rosenberg of Peoria, IL.
Memorial contributions may be sent to Swedish Hospital for the Mayora Rosenberg Women's Health Center www.swedishhospitalfoundation.org or through the Swedish Hospital Foundation, 5145 N. California Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60625.To keep everyone safe and healthy, the interment service will be private.
To attend the funeral live stream, please visit our website.
Arrangements by Chicago Jewish Funerals - Skokie Chapel, 847.229.8822, www.cjfinfo.com