Jeff Roslow probably wouldn’t like this story.
He loved community news and how it shaped and reflected people’s lives, and he might have thought our time was better spent finding out something our local government is doing that affects people. And he’d make his point in a way that made you laugh.
Jeff died this past weekend following a heart attack. He was 55.
For three decades, he worked as a writer and editor in Charlotte and Polk counties. In his time at the Sun, Jeff held many jobs — copy desk chief, news editor, Internet editor — before becoming the editor of Sun Coast Media Group’s Polk County news operations. Until his health took a recent turn for the worse, he was still covering the Bartow City Commission for the Polk News-Sun.
Predeceased by his wife Christine, Jeff had three children: Jacob, Casey Rose and Henry. Memorial information was not immediately available.
We reached out to former colleagues for their memories of Jeff.
Jim Gouvellis, executive editor of the Sun Newspapers: Jeff was my good friend, my roommate between relationships, a loyal employee who always had my back and one of the funniest men I’ve ever known.
He cared about people and community. He cared about baseball. It was as if he had memorized the entire Baseball Encyclopedia as a kid. He could tell you any player’s batting average if you asked.
He was a tough editor but kind to new reporters. Many reporters have commented to me over the years that Jeff helped them learn their craft.
One of the things we had in common was the belief that humor was a great way to motivate people. He was quick witted and hilarious at times. So many of his gestures and sayings became known in the newsroom as “Roslowisms.”
A long-standing newsroom tradition was Jeff calling staff members and their families on their birthdays to sing “Happy Birthday” as if he were Bill Murray from “Saturday Night Live.”
Jeff helped make our paper what it is today.
Chris Porter, Englewood Sun editor: I’d been working at the Sun for a few months when Jim hired Jeff to run the copy desk. That meant he was in charge of layout, but he was also the night editor. We hit it off right away. When I got the “cops” beat and started covering trials, he taught me all about it, where to find records, who to talk to, what was interesting or important that day. He got me to always bring my camera, and come back with photos to help tell the story.
I really liked working the late shift back then. After work, we would put the paper to bed at about 1 a.m., and the late crew would get a couple of beers and talk about what we could do better. We talked about local politics, all the development that was going on, music, sports. When they were widening Kings Highway, we would go out there and hit golf balls in the middle of the night. If a deputy came by, we would tell him we just finished up the late shift at the Sun and he would just let us do whatever we were doing.
When I got my first job as editor in Englewood, I talked to him every day, and he taught me how to do the job.
David Dunn-Rankin, former president of SCMG: It was a privilege to work on a newspaper team with Jeff Roslow. He was hard-working, determined, yet warm and friendly to any person he met. It was an honor to have gotten to know him and been a colleague.
Mary Skaggs, former human resources director for SCMG: Considering all the employees I worked with during my 35 years with SCMG, Jeff was always one of my favorites. He always had the ability to make me laugh! For many years, up until the last three, Jeff would call me on my birthday (July 4th) and sing “Happy Birthday” to me. He was the kindest, sweetest person — I never remember Jeff ever saying anything bad about anyone. He will be missed by all who were lucky enough to have known him.
Brian Gleason, former Sun employee: Jeff and I started working at the Sun around the same time and we were both in our mid-20s. We were both sports fans and our mutual hatred for each others’ baseball teams — his Yankees and my Red Sox — created a bond.
Jeff brought a childlike enthusiasm to the newsroom, as if he were surprised every day he was being paid to do what he loved.
In every interaction Jeff had, it seemed like he would have been satisfied if he had made the person laugh or even smile just once.