Former Town-Crier equestrian columnist Ellen Rosenberg, a resident of The Acreage for many years, a retired teacher and librarian, animal caretaker and leader of the Royal Palm Beach Writer’s Group passed away last month after a battle with liver cancer.
She battled the disease for more than a year before passing away on April 4. Her passing was announced on Facebook by close friend Susan Voorhis.
“Ellen was one of my dearest friends, and I am heartbroken,” she wrote. “I loved her, she was a sister to me, and I will miss our summer days floating in my pool, talking politics and sharing stories of our beloved animals.”
Rosenberg did not want a memorial service to be held.
Her brother, Mike Rosenberg, is older by 11 years. He said she was very much her own woman and lived her life her own way. “And Ellen made a lot of people happy along the way,” he said. “She was my baby sister.”
Her brother and some cousins were her only surviving relatives, although she had a wide array of friends.
Rosenberg would have turned 67 this week. Born May 26, 1952 in New York City, Rosenberg was raised in New York, where she first fell in love with horses. Graduating from Great Neck High School in 1970, Rosenberg attended C.W. Post College, where she earned a master’s degree in education.
“She lived in South Carolina for a time, and then Tennessee for a time, moving to The Acreage to be close to her mother, who retired to Century Village. They were very close,” Mike Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg spent most of her life in The Acreage. “She had a sanctuary for animals at her home,” her brother recalled. “She was state certified for animal rehabilitation.”
While she loved animals, Rosenberg was a professional educator. She was a teacher and librarian for some 35 years, working at Pahokee Middle/Senior High School and much of the time at Crestwood Middle School in Royal Palm Beach.
“Reading and writing were her first loves,” said Bobbie Lewis, a close friend, executor of her will and caretaker for her animals. “Ellen had three horses, three dogs, four cats and ducks, geese, swans, cockatiels and a myriad of other birds.”
Lewis noted that Rosenberg took over as president of the Wildlife Recovery Center some 12 years ago.
“Ellen loved writing so much, all kinds of writing. She left thousands of manuscripts going back to when she was very young,” said Lewis, who said she even found a proposed Star Trek episode she wrote when she was a teenager. “She loved Star Trek.”
Lewis added that Rosenberg was proud of her work and won several writing awards, although she tried hard but never had a book published. “She came close several times,” Lewis noted.
Rosenberg was an equestrian writer with the Florida Horsemen magazine. After that, she became a columnist on equestrian human-interest stories for the Town-Crier. It ran weekly for about 10 years, ending in early 2018, shortly before she became sick. The column was called “Tales from the Trails,” and a final farewell edition of the column was published, coincidentally, the day after Rosenberg died.
Buzz Solomon was friends with Rosenberg through the Royal Palm Beach Writer’s Group.
“Ellen was a terrific writer, she was really good, and she liked the critique approach, writing and rewriting,” he said. “She ran the group, set the schedule and the tempo. She was the captain of the ship.”
A dynamo of energy, Rosenberg’s friends remember her tender moments fondly.
“I remember her bringing baby birds to our writing meetings a couple of times because they needed to be fed,” recalled Laura Fournier, another member of the group who first met Rosenberg in 2011.
Lori Norman, another friend from the writing group, which meets at the Royal Palm Beach library, commented that Rosenberg preferred writing early in the morning, often from 4 to 6 a.m. “She always got her writing in before her chores caring for her beloved animals,” Norman said.
Lewis described Rosenberg as extremely tenacious.
“Anything she did, she did 100 percent,” Lewis said of her friend. “Her goal was to be published, and she worked very hard toward that. She did lots of research to make sure everything she wrote was truthful and factual.”
Lewis said that Rosenberg also loved horses and was a skilled rider, competing in horse shows and winning ribbons. “We went riding about two, up to five times per week, and went to shows to have fun, meet people and show off the horses,” she said.
Rosenberg also played the guitar well and sang.
“It was amazing that she could retain the words to so many songs,” Lewis said. “She was a quirky person, even to close friends, and was fun to be around. She loved to discuss politics. She was extremely independent and strived to do everything all herself, even after she got sick.”
Eventually, the cancer she battled more than a decade ago returned.
“She was a breast cancer survivor for 11 years, but about a year ago, she was feeling terrible, and a doctor visit revealed that the cancer was back and had metastasized and was in her liver and bones,” Mike Rosenberg explained. “She soldiered on, aiming to have fun, enjoyment and pleasure for the balance of her life. She died 10 years and a day after her mother on April 4, 2019.”
Rosenberg was a very private person who donated her body to the University of Miami Medical Research Center, her brother said. “She asked for no sitting Shiva, no ceremony, no funeral, no burial, no plaque,” her brother said. “We respected her wishes.”
While Rosenberg never did get an entire book of her writings published, Fournier said that a story from Rosenberg’s days as a teacher at Pahokee Middle School called “Tough School” was published in Chicken Soup For The Soul: Inspiration For Teachers. It wasn’t a whole book, but it was a traditionally published piece in a popular book series. And it’s now available on Amazon.com. That’s pretty good for any writer.