Irwin Rosen: Scholar And Friend in Field of Psychiatry Dies
By Michael Hooper
Topeka lost a top scholar and a loyal friend in the field of psychiatry on Wednesday when Irwin “Irv” Rosen died at age 93 surrounded by his wife Betty and family.
Rosen came to Topeka to study at the Menninger Clinic in 1952 after receiving his Ph.D., in clinical psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. He graduated from Menninger’s post-doctoral training program and joined the staff and worked about five decades at Menninger, including as director of the Adult Outpatient Department and head of its psychotherapy services.
Roy Menninger, former Menninger president, said Rosen was a unique individual who had a positive outlook.
“He was an unflappably good man, who saw good in almost anything,” Menninger said. In an interview in 2003, Rosen recalled moving to Topeka in the early 1950s and seeing a sign that said, “Welcome to Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World.” The Menninger Clinic, Topeka State Hospital and the Veterans Administration Winter Hospital combined to create a mecca for anyone needing treatment or a job in mental health. Topeka State Hospital closed in 1997 and the Menninger Clinic moved to Houston in 2003. The VA continues to operate in Topeka.
Rosen’s colleagues said he helped others with his transformative and inspiring personality. He was a scholar who published into his late 80s. He had a quick wit, a big smile and a warmth that made it comfortable for others to confide in him.
He was very close to the late Irving Sheffel, former administrator of the Menninger Clinic, who died in May 2015, at age 98. At Sheffel’s funeral, Rosen praised his longtime friend’s talent for keeping peace at Menninger and then made fun of Sheffel’s golf game.
Roy Menninger said Rosen had a special talent for entertaining others. Rosen and Jerry Katz performed a song and dance act during an engagement party for Roy and his wife Beverly.
“Irv was marvelously imaginative, curious and creative,” Menninger said. Rosen was also extremely loyal and supportive.
“I was glad to have a friend like that,” Menninger said. “I have so much respect and fondness for him.”
Siebolt Frieswyk, a former Menninger employee, said Rosen had a profoundly influential career at Menninger.
“He transformed generations of students and colleagues with his passion for the theater and tennis and his devotion to professional excellence,” Frieswyk said. “His incredible humor and transformative passion for social justice and the concern for our fellow human beings whose lives he touched with grace and compassion often inspired those who had not grasped their special talent and possibilities. He and Jerry Katz could entertain endlessly, given their immersion in the American musical theater. Irv climbed mountains with his friends in Colorado and inspired us all to heights of excellence and devotion to our shared cause.”
Rosen was saddened to see the end of the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis when the Menninger Clinic left for Houston in 2003.
At the time, Rosen wrote, “The way now to perpetuate what we built together is to carry with us internally the place, the people, and what we did here, to re-create what we have learned here and keep it alive, and to practice and teach it afresh in our consulting rooms, our classrooms and our writings. On that premise, our Institute and its parent, The Menninger Clinic, will live in our lives and in the lives of all those patients and students whom we will ever touch.”
Services honoring Rosen will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 12, at Temple Beth Sholom, 4200 S.W. Munson. Burial will follow at Mount Hope Cemetery.