Remembering Phil Rosen


Philip Clark Rosen 1955-2020

By Julia Rosen

Phil, beloved husband, father, brother, friend and herpetologist passed away on September 18, 2020 after a brave battle with cancer, a scant 2 weeks after finding his last diamondback rattler on the Loop near Mesquite pond.

Phil was born in New York City on February 25th, 1955, to Donn and Carmela Rosen. As a child, he roamed the halls of the American Natural History Museum, where his father served as Director of Ichthyology. He had a childhood collection of some 33 salamander species and loved hockey and basement ping pong with his brothers David and James and fossil hunting with Mom. Phil graduated from NVRHS, Northern Valley High School in Closter, NJ in 1974 and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1980 with his Bachelor of Science. He earned his Master of Science at Arizona State University in Tempe in 1987 studying mud turtles under Jim Collins.

In 2000, Phil completed his doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona in Tucson as Chuck Lowe’s final PhD student. He researched snake, lizard and turtle ecology at Organ Pipe National Monument in times of ever increasing heat and drought. He thought at a landscape scale with his work on the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, a true Pima County gem that thrives to this day. His later research took him 4-wheeling the back roads of Mexico studying tortoises and mud turtles.

As a father, Phil took great joy in taking our family camping to field sites like San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge. He delighted in filling Jasmine-Sander’s Christmas stocking with toy dinosaurs, rollerblading at full speed around Reid Park and playing in ocean surf. Phil joined Jasmine and her college friends in exploring the desert, art and punk music.

Phil’s latest urban ecology work focused on rescue and relocation of lizards ahead of the flood control bulldozer, his gentle handling of tiny lizards revealing his true tenderness. Phil was generous and a life-long activist in the politics of peace. His message to you is simple: VOTE!

Phil is predeceased by his parents Donn Eric Rosen and Carmela Berritto Rosen, and daughter, Jasmine Sander Donn Rosen. He is survived by his wife, Julia C. Rosen, brothers, David N. Rosen (Linda), and James A. Rosen (Mary) and their children, Brandon, Ryan and Sophie, extended family, Debet Kuehner (David), Clayton Burgett (Valerie) their children, Ava, Charlotte, Cruz and many friends.

On behalf of the Sonoran desert fauna: Frogs, toads, turtles, tortoises, snakes and fish, thank you Dr. Rosen! We love you and we miss you beyond measure. Life celebration yet to come. In lieu of flowers please consider the Philip C. Rosen memorial fund.