Family, friends and faith. Honesty, loyalty and love. These are just some of the words that describe storyteller extraordinaire Jeb John Rosebrook. On August 31, 2018 Jeb was welcomed in Heaven, where without a doubt, he was greeted by family and friends eager to hear the latest news and stories from home.
Jeb was born in New York City on June 11, 1935, the only child to John “Jack” Baker Rosebrook and Genevieve “Jean” Fallon Rosebrook. He passed away peacefully, with his wife, son and daughter around him, at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, following a brief battle with congestive heart disease, anemia and cancer.
He was preceded in death by his parents John and Jean; his in-laws William Frederick Fischer and Eunice Gray Fischer; sister-in-law Catherine Joan Fischer; brother-in-law Lt. Col. William Howard Fischer, USAF; uncles and aunts: Mary Corinne Rosebrook, Charles and Ellen J. Rosebrook, Robert S. and Martha Rosebrook Tomlinson, Edward and Cecelia Fallon McGlone, William and Florence Fallon Hopewell, Tom and Virginia Fallon Anderson, Bill and Ann Fallon Morgan and Harry B. and Eve Fallon Quier; and, many beloved cousins and close friends.
He is survived by his wife Dorothy Eva Fischer Rosebrook of 58 years (August 6, 2018 was their anniversary); his son Jeb Stuart Rosebrook (Julie); daughter Katherine Fallon Rosebrook Goode (Robert); grandchildren Jeb Alan Rosebrook, Kristina Corinne Rosebrook, Fallon Gray Goode and Jack Rosebrook Goode; his sister- and brother-in-law Elizabeth “Betty” Fischer Silva and Tony Silva; and sister-in-law Sonya Fischer, as well as numerous cousins, nephews, nieces and great-nephews and great-nieces.
Because of childhood asthma, his parents chose to send him West from their Connecticut home for his health. He attended the rural Orme School, then known as the Quarter Circle V Bar Ranch School near Mayer, Arizona, from 1945 to 1949. After eighth grade he attended St. Leo’s Preparatory School for Boys near Dade City, Florida, before returning to Orme’s newly created high school in 1951. Rosebrook spent his summers living and working at his parents farm Falrose Farm, the largest wine grape farm at the time in Virginia, outside of Charlottesville, at Carter’s Bridge. With Christmas breaks either in New York or Los Angeles, and cross-country train rides in between school semesters, Rosebrook’s young life and adventures in New York, Arizona, Florida and Virginia shaped his life as a storyteller.
He graduated from Orme School in 1953 and matriculated to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he studied English and journalism. At W&L he was a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity and Sigma Delta Chi, the honorary journalism fraternity. In 1956, he had his first paid job in television, with NBC in New York. After he graduated in 1957, Jeb moved to New York to continue his career in the entertainment industry. After the passing of his mother Jean in February 1958, Jeb moved back to Arizona, where he began work in advertising at Diamond’s Department Store in Phoenix. Fortuitous for Jeb, he met Dorothy Fischer, who was working the women’s sportswear department that summer. She returned to college at the University of Arizona that fall for her junior year. Two years later they were married on August 6, 1960.
In 1961, Jeb and Dorothy moved to Los Angeles and settled in Brentwood. This was the beginning of their 47 years of living, working and raising a family in Southern California. Jeb was working for Foote, Cone and Belding advertising agency when in 1965 he published his first novel, “Saturday.” In 1967 he left advertising to pursue his lifelong goal of screenwriting for film and television. He renewed a friendship with friend, mentor and fellow writer, Earl Hamner, Jr. His friendship with Earl spanned 60 years and was a guiding light throughout Jeb’s career. In 1970, Jeb had his greatest break in Hollywood when producer Joe Wizan optioned his story “Bonner” and commissioned Jeb’s original screenplay “Junior Bonner” for actor Steve McQueen and director Sam Peckinpah. After the release of “Junior Bonner” in 1972, Jeb became a sought-after writer for episodic television series, movies-of-the week, docudramas and Christmas specials. Early credits include four episodes of Earl Hamner’s “The Waltons,” “Miracle on 34th Street, I Will Fight No More Forever,” “Prince of Central Park” and “The Winds of Kitty Hawk.” In 1977, he returned to cinema and was a story and screenwriter for Disney’s “The Black Hole” (1979).
In 1981, he partnered with well-known Hollywood producer Joe Bryne, and as a writing-producing team, they enjoyed a successful partnership until Jeb’s passing, which included the production of the television series “The Yellow Rose” and “The Outsiders,” and the television specials, “Hobo’s Christmas,” “The Gambler, Part III: The Legend Continues” and “Four Diamonds.” Over the course of his six-decade writing career, Jeb was nominated for two Writers Guild of America nominations for best television dramas, the two-hour episode of “The Waltons” titled “The Conflict,” and his adaptation of the novel, “The Prince of Central Park.” For “I Will Fight No More Forever: The Story of Chief Joseph,” he and co-writer Theodore Strauss received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy - Original Teleplay and the Christopher Award. For his shared screenwriting credit with Gerry Day for Disney’s “The Black Hole,” Jeb also received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Writing from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, USA, and a Hugo Award nomination for Best Dramatic Presentation.
In recent years, he returned to some of his favorite genres of writing: non-fiction, theater, novels and memoir. He was a contributing writer to “Arizona Highways, “True West” and “Harnett’s Sports Arizona.” With Earl Hamner, he adapted The Waltons “The Conflict” into a stage play. available through Dramatic Publishing, with permission of Earl Hamner and Warner Brothers. He published the first two volumes of his American Trilogy, “Purgatory Road: The Road Between Heaven and Hell in 1951 Arizona” and “Forever More: Only the Beginning, when Charlemagne visits 1954 Virginia and meets God, Desegregation and Rock and Roll.” At the time of his passing, Rosebrook was working on third volume, “Wake Up Little Susie.” He also published in 2018, with co-writer Nel Jeppsen, his first Western, “No Man’s Land,” adapted from an unproduced script “Jack Ballard” for Sam Peckinpah and Steve McQueen. His final book, completed with his son Stuart, was his highly personal memoir, “Junior Bonner: The Making of a Classic with Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah in the Summer of 1971.” Jeb was also the featured interview in Mike Siegel’s highly acclaimed documentary “Passion & Poetry: Rodeo Time,” which was a special feature in Disney’s re-release of “Junior Bonner” on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Jeb’s greatest joys in life centered around writing, storytelling, family and friends. He also had a great love of sports. An athlete as a young boy, he played football and basketball in high school (and a walk-on in freshmen football at Washington & Lee); he was the catcher for his advertising softball team (an All-Star!); and was always an avid tennis player until a shoulder injury sidelined his game. He was a lifetime New York Yankees fan, but his heart belonged to his Brooklyn Dodgers and continued when they moved to Los Angeles. He and Dorothy loved to travel to visit family and friends, especially to see their children and grandchildren in the last 20 years. He was also a great communicator, staying in touch with dozens, if not hundreds of friends, for decades, through letters, calls and in recent years, email.
Born with the gift of the Irish “blarney,” there was never an audience too small with which Jeb would share his love of his childhood, movies, sports, books, bars, music, cross-country drives, writing and life from New York to Virginia, from Arizona to Los Angeles. His storytelling is legendary, as were his friends.
Jeb was also a dedicated volunteer, mentor and teacher throughout his life. He served on the vestries of his churches, the boards of the local YMCA, his daughter’s schools and the Orme School, where he was a trustee for over 40 years. He taught screenwriting at Arizona State University and Scottsdale Community College. He was a sought-after public speaker and writing instructor, most recently as the keynote speaker at the Tallgrass Writing Workshop at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas, in June of 2016. He was also a proud member of the Writer’s Guild of America-West, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Author’s Guild and Western Writers of America.
A funeral mass and celebration of life will be celebrated at All Saints Episcopal Church, 6300 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ, 85012, on Saturday, October 13, 2018, at 11a.m.
New Yorker; Southern Gentleman; Arizona Cowboy; L.A. Writer; and, always the optimistic Dreamer—Jeb will be missed by his beloved wife Dorothy (a love affair of 60 years), his children, grandchildren, extended family and the many who called him friend. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his honor to The Jeb Rosebrook Vaquero Memorial Fund, The Orme School (OrmeSchool.org), St. Leo Abbey (StLeoAbbey.org), Washington and Lee University (WLU.edu), the Writers Guild Foundation (WGFoundation.org), Scottsdale Boys and Girls Club (BGCS.org), Hospice of the Valley (HOV.org) or to All Saints Episcopal Church (AllSaintsOnCentral.org).