To the Point for 2/23/06


SWITZERLAND COUNTY LOST ANOTHER of it’s “favorite sons” last week when Max Rosenberger passed away.

In my time in Switzerland County, I had come to know Max first at the funeral home; then through veterans organizations; as the director of the senior citizens center; and later as my neighbor.

His wife, Lois, formed a friendship with my wife during the years that Lois served as the county librarian; and daughter Lisa became our backyard neighbor several years ago.

When Lois and Max sold their home and came to live with Lisa in recent years, I got to see Max a lot more often — normally with a wave while he was relaxing on the back patio or doing some “tinkering” around the house.

I will always think of Max Rosenberger with a smile on his face. I know that he didn’t always have a smile — in fact, I was also privy to a few occasions that found him pretty upset at the state of some situation — but somewhere in there you could always see his smile coming through his eyes; or the corners of his mouth would curl.

It was Max’s way of letting you know that having a disagreement didn’t mean being disagreeable. We would have general conversations about what was (and was not) in the local paper, and Max would usually throw that big grin at me and say something funny and we’d end up laughing and forgetting whatever it was that we were talking about.

That’s how Max Rosenberger was. He was a man who was extremely devoted to his God, his family, and this community. He took active roles in civic organizations and community activities. He worked hard in various leadership roles in his church. He served as one of Vevay’s unofficial ambassadors to countless visitors who happened to meet up with Max during a historic walking tour or wandering in and out of local shops.

In many ways Max Rosenberger and people like him have become dinosaurs. In an age where we spend more and more time on our back decks than we do our front porches; the feeling of community and family seem to be suffering — even in small towns like Vevay and small counties like Switzerland.

In many areas we don’t know our neighbors anymore; and instead we respond with a quick hand raise as they pass by on their way to work in the city; or we build tall fences to maintain our privacy.

Max wasn’t like that. If you didn’t know Max Rosenberger, it was because he hadn’t found you, yet. Once he did, he would engulf you in the history and beauty of his hometown; and he would spin wonderful tales of the people and events that shaped Switzerland County into what it is today.

Unfortunately, many of those people have left us; and they have taken many of those stories with them.

Our neighborhood will be a little less spirited now that Max has passed. He was truly a warm and wonderful man; and I am proud that I had the opportunity to know him.