Blog 1332 – 05.03.2019
Another Michael (Ross) Story
Six years ago while on my first long work assignment in Indiana, and working the first four months or so in Terre Haute, I spent the better part of a Saturday with an old college buddy that I had not seen in over forty years, Michael Ross Rosensweig. I had met Michael, who went by Ross when I first met him in January of 1973, when the both of us began attending Gulf Coast Bible College to prepare for the Christian ministry. Michael had been raised a Jew but had been converted to Christianity by some Jews for Jesus in California. His Jewish wife Cora had followed him in his new faith. I actually almost met Cora first as they were staying in an un used section of the boys dorm, G. B. Walters, that, unbeknownst to Cora and I and the other guys in my quad, shared a shower. Fortunately before I hopped in the what I thought was at the time an unoccupied four man shower I heard one of the shower heads running and a lady singing. About that time Michael popped his head into the hallway of our quad to warn us his pregnant wife Cora was using the shower and that we might want to wait till she was finished before showering. His timing was almost too late but still rather impeccable. That was how I met one of the best friends I ever had or hope to have.
I only attended GBC three years. In the fall of that first year I met and later married a young coed from Laurel, Mississippi. She and I rented a house not far from the college that was just a few doors down from where Ross and Cora lived with their baby girl, Rachel. We spent a lot of time together. Ross had helped me get hired on a second shift job at Texas Commerce Bank in the data processing department so he and I took turns driving to work to both save gas and so the girls had one or the other of our cars to drive. We shared several college classes together as well. I recall that one of the first words that Ross taught Rachel to say was locomotive. He beamed each time a friend expected the small child to say choo choo or train when Rachel would eloquently utter locomotive. He was as I was not to be till several years later and with yet a third wife, a proud poppa of a wonderful baby girl. And ten years after Emily I also With yet another wife became the proud poppa of a beloved son too.
In the forty years I was out of touch with Ross, he and Cora separated, he returned to his Jewish faith, but he stayed in contact with his beloved daughter, Rachel. During a phone conversation with my former wife I expressed my frustration and many failed attempts at trying to locate Ross through the Christian group for which we had both studied for the ministry and served. She had remarried several more times than I and was at that time married to the college recruiter, sometime singing evangelist, that had convinced her to transfer from Warner Southern, a sister college, and to attend GBC and also work part time as his on campus secretary. I thought she had a crush on him went I first met her but she denied it then and still does. Anyway through singer/preacher husband, Dick Reinholtz, she was able to locate Ross, and sent me his contact information.
He was living in Bedford, Indiana, So I called him from Houston, Texas and we had several long conversations catching up on our lives and the almost forty years that has passed for both of us. Shortly after I arrived in Terre Haute I gave Ross a call and offered to drive to Bedford to meet him. He said his place was a mess and being remodeled or he would invite me to come spend a weekend but that he would drive up to Terre Haute and spend a Saturday with me. And he did, he met me at my hotel and we drove together to a nearby mall and walked around sharing the different but all too similar paths that our lives had taken, our experiences in Christian ministry, how we both were no longer Christians, and yet how we still thought so very much alike. After we had walked the mall several time. Michael, I found it easy to call, my new Jewish friend Michael instead of Ross, suggested that we visit the Terre Haute Holocaust Museum and Memorial. He had never been there but had long wanted to go and now so did I. It was a very moving experience for the both of us. Michael had always called me “Bro” during our college days together and I was still his brother and will always be.
Michael and I had other shared experiences, we were both Vietnam vets though his experiences there as an infantry soldier were far tougher than mine as a teletype repairman in a top secret highly secure and guarded com-center. While in Vietnam, Michael had been exposed repeatedly to Agent Orange, the chemical used by the U.S. military to defoliate the jungles and drive the Viet Cong (VC) out into the open. Many veterans of the Vietnam War so exposed have suffered long gruesome debilitating diseases related to Agent Orange most many years later. Michael was one of those and he had been receiving treatments for several years though he looked and sounded fine during our day together. I think it was mostly well choreographed show for my benefit. Michael did talk at length of his work with veterans groups and I could tell that work was his new religion even more than returning to Judaism. Michael cared deeply about and for people and was all about helping them in anyway he could.
Michael Ross Rosensweig was and always will be a true hero to me, not just for his service in Vietnam, Christian ministry, the Jewish faith, nor even his work with military veterans, but for his loving friendship to me personally. Michael’s journey here was cut short six months later by further complications from Agent Orange which in the end only served as to his ticket to a new and better adventure. Farewell, brave soldier, and beloved bro.
Yesterday, I drove into Bedford, Indiana for the first time. I have thought of Michael Ross many times since I first met him in this life over forty-five years ago now, it felt even then that we had always known one another. I fully expect to meet him again in another adventure someday.
Your friend and fellow traveler,