Ted Rosko Jr. was a man who took care of business—not so much for himself, but so others could be at ease and know they were taken care of.
The 35-year veteran North Sea firefighter and vice president of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, died on Wednesday, January 9, after a battle with cancer, leaving behind a multitude of people he had touched with kindness. He was 57.
Friends, family members, and uniformed men and women from fire departments across the East End gathered on Monday for a firematic service at the Basilica Parish of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Southampton to say goodbye to a man who had a predisposition to embrace everyone.
FASNY Board President John Farrell Jr. was the first to speak at the funeral Mass about Mr. Rosko’s generous heart.
“He gave one helluva contribution as vice president of the Board of Trustees,” he said, noting that Mr. Rosko, who joined the state association in 1993, was next in line to be board president. “His number-one goal was to take care of and protect the staff and residents at the Firemen’s Home.”
In 2006, Mr. Rosko was a board member when he paid his first visit to the association’s Firemen’s Home, a nursing home and refuge in Hudson, New York, for former volunteer firefighters from across the state, and made it a point to visit those in care there every other week. Later, he became a Firemen’s Home trustee. Mr. Rosko was also an advocate for protecting the interests of volunteer firefighters and traveled to Washington, D.C., on a yearly basis to help further legislation pertaining to the welfare of his firefighters back home.
According to his nephew and newly appointed chief of the North Sea Fire Department, Bill Rosko Jr., Mr. Rosko was a “citizen of the world.”
“He was a real big humanitarian who helped out countless people down on their luck or in poor health,” the chief said on Tuesday.
Mr. Rosko was also a 35-year active member of the North Sea Fire Department and served as chief in 1997 and 1998.
“He was my mentor and the one who got me here,” Chief Rosko said. “The fire department runs thick in our family. I don’t think I ever had the choice not to be in the fire department, and not to be chief.”
Mr. Rosko’s brother Bill Rosko Sr. is a 37-year member who currently serves as the district’s safety officer, and his niece, Colleen Rosko, is a four-year member. Mr. Rosko’s wife, Terry, also has been involved with the department. “Any fireman needs to have a great wife to let him do what he needs to do as a fireman,” Chief Rosko said.
The call to service running in his veins, Mr. Rosko instilled his love for public service in his nephew. “I remember Teddy laughing at a picture of me sitting at Teddy’s pool at 8 years old, and I’m reading a fire chief magazine that he always had in the house—he put it in my hand as a young man,” he said. “Uncle Teddy was holding on, waiting for me to be chief to give him the burial he deserves.”
Mr. Rosko’s many accomplishments and responsibilities were unveiled to the congregation of family and friends. Mr. Rosko also served as the 7th District Suffolk County Fire Coordinator, a member of the New York State Chiefs Convention Committee, Chairman of the New York State Softball Championship Committee, and was a past president of the Southampton Town Fire Chiefs Council and the past president of the East End Five Towns Chiefs Association. He also served on many other committees for the Suffolk County Volunteer Firemen’s Association, where he also served as president in 2007-08.
“He was the type of guy that in any task given to him, he got it done 110 percent,” Chief Rosko said. “Even while Teddy was sick, he got all of his stuff together, any obligations he had, he took care of it before he passed away this month. He didn’t want to give anyone a half-empty folder.”
Mr. Rosko, who called everyone “Boss,” had a desire to protect and care for others from an early age, according to his nephew, who spoke on behalf of his family.
Born Theodore Bernard Rosko Jr. on October 27, 1955, to Theodore and Joyce Rosko at Southampton Hospital, Mr. Rosko graduated from Southampton High School as a jock who loved all sports. He joined the Southampton Fire Department, where he served for two years, before he “finally figured out the right one” to join, Chief Rosko joked. He said that his father, Bill Rosko Sr., always teased his brother about having more time with the North Sea Fire Department.