COLUMBIA — Lt. Benjamin Rosman's son David remembers the day he told his third-grade classmates that his father had taught him how to fly planes.
They didn't believe him, so Lt. Rosman arranged to bring the whole class to Zahn's Airport in Amityville, N.Y., to watch the two of them take off and land in a Piper J-3 Cub.
"Every weekend, we were in the airplane," David said.
Lt. Benjamin "Benny" Rosman died Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, after a nine-month battle against pancreatic cancer. He was 90.
Lt. Rosman was born the second of four children in Brooklyn on March 7, 1923, to Jacob and Molly Rosman.
From an early age, Lt. Rosman was fascinated by aviation. His first job was with Grumman Aircraft Engineering in Bethpage, N.Y., and he used his first paycheck to learn how to fly.
From then on, his family said, he spent more time in the air than on the ground. All told, Lt. Rosman flew more than 30 different models of aircraft, from the P-47 Thunderbolt he flew in World War II to his beloved Beechcraft A-33 Debonair.
"He and David would go flying every single Sunday," his daughter, Deborah, said.
Lt. Rosman joined the Army Air Corp during World War II and flew as a fighter pilot. He earned the rank of First Lieutenant with the 527th Squadron, 86th Fighter group, stationed in Pisa, Italy. He flew 112 missions over Germany, France and Italy. He won numerous citations between 1944 and 1945, including the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the war, he told so many flying stories that he earned the moniker "a living history" at the American Air Power Museum in Farmingdale, N.Y., where his World War II plane is on display.
His stories are archived in the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project and are recounted in two World War II books.
After he returned to New York from the war, Lt. Rosman bought Mineola Bicycle and ran it with the help of his brother, Seymour.
He married Cecile Gold in 1974.
"My dad’s death will be hard on our family," David Rosman, a frequent columnist for the Missourian, wrote Feb. 26. "Living memory places my dad as the patriarch of the family, the 'parent' everyone called upon when there was a celebration or a problem."
Lt. Rosman is survived by his wife, Cecile of Bethpage, N.Y.; two children, David Rosman of Columbia and Deborah Doerrlamm of Ronkonokoma, N.Y.; two stepchildren, Linda Taddonio of Lake Grove, N.Y., and Norman Gold of Meriden, Conn.; a sister, Pearl; and five grandchildren, Thomas Michelis, Jennifer Gold, Nathan Gold, Melissa Taddonio-Seron and Craig Taddonio.
His sister, Shirley, and brother, Seymour, died earlier.
A private military service will be held in Calverton, N.Y.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Air Power Museum, 1230 New Highway, Farmingdale, NY 11735.