Benjamin Rosman was a World War II fighter pilot, owner of Mineola Bicycle and was living history at the American Air Power Museum in Farmingdale, NY.
Rosman, a lifelong Long Islander, died on February 28th after a 9 month battle of pancreatic cancer. He was just 1 week shy of his 91st birthday.
Born the second of four children in Brooklyn on March 7, 1923, to Jacob and Molly Rosman, “Benny” had an early interest in aviation.
His first job after graduating Hempstead High School was building aircraft at Grumman Aviation in Bethpage, NY. His very first paycheck was spent on flying lessons.
Ben joined the Army Air Corps during World War II and became a fighter pilot earning the rank of First Lieutenant with the 527th Fighter Squadron, 86th Fighter Group stationed in Pisa, Italy. He flew P-47 Thunderbolts in more than 112 missions over Germany, France and Italy, winning numerous citations including the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944-45.
After the war Rosman bought Mineola Bicycle, then on the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Mineola Boulevard, later partnering with his brother, Seymour. In 1959 the business moved to 475 Jericho Turnpike where it is still in business today.
His love of flying never waned. As a pilot, Ben was checked out in over 30 aircraft, from a Piper J-3 Cub to his beloved Beechcraft A-33 Debonair and numerous WWII fighters and trainers.
“He would go flying every Sunday,” recalls his daughter Deborah. “My brother rode his bike to take his own flying lessons and dad would pick him up in the (Piper) Comanche, putting David’s bicycle in the back of the airplane and fly some more.”
At the bicycle store or at home, you would only have to prompt Ben to tell you a flying story. He told his stories so well that he was often referred to as "living history" at the American Air Power Museum at Republic Airport in Farmingdale that has on display a flying P-47, the plane Ben flew in WWII. He was the only fighter pilot from that era with the museum and only needed a slight nudge to regale the visitor with stories about the war. His stories are archived in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, linked at his website, www.jugpilot.com, and he has been featured in two books concerning World War II.
He remarried in 1974 to Cecile Gold of Old Bethpage, NY and recently celebrating their 39th anniversary. They maintained homes in Old Bethpage and Boca Raton, FL.
Ben is predeceased by his sister Shirley and brother Seymour, survived by his sister Pearl, wife Cecile and his two children; David Rosman, 62, of Columbia, MO and Deborah Doerrlamm 59, of Ronkonkoma, NY, two step children; Linda Taddonio 63 of Lake Grove, NY, and Norman Gold 61 of Meriden, CT, and 5 grandchildren; Thomas Michelis, Jennifer Gold, Nathan Gold, Melissa Taddonio-Seron, and Craig Taddonio.
Donations to Ben’s memorial are to be made to the American Air Power Museum of Farmingdale, NY.