Theresa Rosen, the community activist and president of the Society of Old Brooklynites for more than a decade — who coincidentally wrote Hugh Carey’s campaign song when he ran for governor in 1974 — died Aug. 4 at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital after a short bout with cancer. She was 75.
A songwriter who was a member of American Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers, she wrote the anthem for Carey, who also died this week, “It’s Gotta Be Hugh Carey.” She also penned “The Fonzie Theme,” a song about the Fonz, a popular character from the television show “Happy Days” that got some radio play in the mid-1970s.
“She grew up in music. That was her first love,” said her son, Robert Rosen, 48, of Bay Ridge.
She was a fan of Elvis Presley — especially his gospel albums — and made pilgrimages to Graceland in 1978 and 1982, he said.
But Rosen was known foremost as a community activist.
Among the many community groups she served, she was a past vice president of the former Fort Hamilton Historical Society, was active with the Lions Club, was a member of the Bay Ridge Chapter of AARP, and served as an officer on the executive boards of three public school PTAs: Public School 102, McKinley Junior High School and Fort Hamilton High School.
“It was clear from her leadership that she loved Brooklyn — and Brooklynites — every bit as much as I do,” said Borough President Markowitz, a fellow Old Brooklynite. “She was one of Bay Ridge’s outstanding residents and a tireless advocate for Italian American causes, and her dedication to our borough earns her the richly deserved honorary title of ‘Ms. Brooklyn.’ ”
As as a trustee and executive secretary of the Italian Historical Society of America, Rosen “was the heart and soul of the society,” said John LaCorte, the society’s executive director and a close friend. “It was a tremendous loss to the organization.”
But even as she toiled in the public’s eye, she never was comfortable in the spotlight, friends said.
“She honestly believed in the greater good of the community,” said Ted General of the Society of Old Brooklynites. “She was a strong contributor but never wanted the recognition. Each time she came up for reelection, she’d say ‘I wish you guys would find someone else to take the position’. It really wasn’t her to be in the spotlight.”
Alexander Conti, a former president of the Bay Ridge Community Council, said Rosen was very active and headed committees for the group.
“She was an integral part of the Bay Ridge Community Council and the community at large,” said Conti. “She was a good person to me. She was my friend.”
Rosen, a lifelong Brooklynite, was raised Theresa Capece in Carroll Gardens, where she attended the now-closed Bishop Montgomery High School. She moved to Bay Ridge shortly after marrying her husband, Norman Rosen, in 1962.
She was predeceased by her husband, an attorney who served as the top executive deputy to Brooklyn District Attorney Eugene Gold and Queens District Attorney John J. Santucci and ran for DA himself in the 1989 Democratic primary race, but lost to Charles Hynes.
Rosen is survived by two sons, Robert and Richard; a sister, Clorita Pugliese; and a brother, Frederick Capece.