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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Remembering John W. Rozier, 1918-2011

John W. Rozier 39C 47G, director of Emory’s information services department for two decades, passed away on January 8, at age 92. He was the epitome of the scholar and the gentleman, and he was dedicated to Emory in many ways.

Many of us who knew and worked with Mr. Rozier knew about his career in journalism and his role in making Emory’s news bureau a model of consistent and positive communication. Few of us knew about his leadership as commander of a landing craft tank during World War II or his career in foreign service which took him from Lebanon to Korea to China.

His witness to history early in his life translated into a love of history for the rest of his career. He researched and wrote about the Civil War and civil rights in middle Georgia, where he was born and where he later managed a newspaper.

He headed Emory’s information services department during two decades of fundamental changes in the university. He was responsible for the university’s public relations around events ranging from its admission of African American students in 1963 to the “God is Dead” controversy in 1966.

At a time when print media and personal contacts were a journalist’s tools, Mr. Rozier was indefatigable in his efforts to place stories about Emory in local and national sources and to ensure that an accurate picture of the growing university was portrayed. Mr. Rozier was a most unassuming person--it was always about the story, never about him. Despite that modest demeanor, he had significant influence and impact at Emory, and he accomplished many things without ever losing his sense of humor.

In retirement, he maintained close ties with Emory and even earned the Emory Medal in 1978, Emory's highest honor exclusively for alumni. Mr. Rozier and had time to explore his interest in the history of the University.

In 1983, he published Out of the Grandstand and Onto the Playing Field: A History of the Division of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics at Emory University, 1880-1983. Beginning in 1986, he served as a volunteer interviewer for a series of recorded and conversations with key administrators and alumni about Emory’s history.

He was involved in Emory’s Emeritus College, earning one its distinguished service awards in 2007. One of his favorite ongoing connections to Emory was being part of the Corpus Cordis Aureum (CCA), the 50- and 50-plus year graduates (as seen in the photo above) who march in the Commencement procession each May wearing their gold robes and CCA medallions.

He and his wife Dorothy Evan Rozier 46G lived in the Emory neighborhood and were frequent visitors to campus. They especially enjoyed attending poetry readings and author talks at the Woodruff Library. They were also regulars at the book sale held by the library for many years. Dorothy often worried aloud that if John brought one more book home, that their house would collapse under the weight of his collection.

At a memorial service on Saturday, January 22, an overflow crowd celebrated Mr. Rozier’s life. His son John Paul Rozier 73C described his father’s extraordinary military service, and the Rev. Larry Bauman 55T 71T characterized Mr. Rozier as a “solid Emory man.” Emory claims many solid citizens among its alumni, faculty and staff. None were more dedicated or more humble than John W. Rozier.

Read Emory Report's tribute to John W. Rozier.

-- Ginger Cain 77C 82G, director, library public programs

P.S. If you'd like to leave your own memory of Dr. Rozier, please post a comment below.

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