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Abe S. Rosen, True PR Legend, Dies at 94

October 5, 2011
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Abe S. Rosen

Abe S. Rosen, one of the city's true public-relations icons, as well as a former Philadelphia city representative and director of commerce, died Oct. 2. He was 94 years old.

Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Rosen graduated from Overbook High School and attended Temple University for two years. He was a sports writer with the Evening Ledgerfrom 1935 to 1942, when the paper folded. He also worked as a reporter and editor at thePhiladelphia Record.

During World War II, Rosen served as an agent with the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Division and as the editor of the China edition of the Army's Stars and Stripes, where he served with the late Washington syndicated columnist Jack Anderson.

Anderson became a good friend and would often visit Rosen whenever he was in the Philadelphia area years later.

Rosen began a career in public relations in 1947, beginning with Wolfson Enterprises, Adelphia Associated; he became a partner in 1955 before leaving for the job as deputy city representative under the late Fredric R. Mann, with whom he served from 1956 to 1963.

Indeed, he formed a friendly relationship with Mann and, in his city job, accompanied Mann to Israel a number of times, helping to set up the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv in 1957.

He served as deputy city representative from 1956 to 1963. In May 1966, he joined the mayor's cabinet as city representative and director of commerce.

As president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which he served from 1968 to 1970, Rosen attracted international attention and considerable praise for his innovative programming.

He also defended the city's reputation whenever necessary; in fact, once he prompted comedian and native son Joey Bishop, as well as comedian Milton Berle, to apologize in writing for negative remarks about Philadelphia.

Sometimes he caused quite a commotion. He added fireworks to the city's July 4 celebrations, expanding the day to the weeklong Freedom Week, the forerunner to Welcome America.

He also helped craft the Liberty Trail, a 100-mile scenic auto tour following Washington's footsteps as the first president encountered the British in Delaware, Chester, Bucks, Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.

Rosen left his city positions to become a vice president of public relations for the Philadelphia public relations firm Al Paul Lefton Company; and in 1970, he formed Sommers-Rosen, a private public relations firm he founded with the late veteran publicist Alan Sommers. Together, they would later go into the Philadelphia Public Relations Association's Hall of Fame.

He left Sommers-Rosen in 1983 and co-founded the Rosen-Coren Agency with Stu Coren, his son-in-law.

Rosen was active in the firm almost to the time of his death.

Among the many other roles Rosen assumed during his long life, he was a trustee of Beth Emeth Congregation in Northeast Philadelphia and was active in the Jewish War Veterans.

Rosen is survived by daughters Ellen Coren and Irene Garber; four grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

He was predeceased by his wife, Bonnie (Bernice) Mittin Rosen, and sister Rose Brownstein.

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