Judith Rosbe didn’t start her professional life as an author. She had, in fact, studied English and history for a career as an educator. Then Rosbe decided to become a lawyer, a career choice that lasted for 30 years. There were years of building her career coupled with years of nurturing her children. One could say her life thus far has been very full.
Yet her passion in all things Marion has also factored into her industrious nature. Rosbe has had six books themed on different aspects of the history of a town she so clearly loves. The latest book, simply titled “St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church,” (Arcadia Publishing Company, 2021), was published to commemorate the church’s sesquicentennial celebrations. As a member of the congregation and the church’s historian, Rosbe is donating proceeds from the book’s sale to the church.
But first, we need to go back to book number one to more fully appreciate the journey this author of local history publications has taken.
Rosbe, a member of the Sippican Historical Society for more than 20 years and nearly a decade as its president, was writing weekly articles for a local newspaper, articles that highlighted many of the historic homes found in Marion’s seaside village. Through the archives held by the society, she had access to historic photographs and other documentation that enabled her to detail each featured home’s personality.
“People seemed to like them,” Rosbe stated with a smile in her voice and sufficed to say she enjoyed writing them. As she puts it (through a little chuckle), “I wasn’t an author, but lawyers do write.” Indeed!
Yet Rosbe was not a complete novice to the publishing industry either, having spent some time as a reviewer of junior adult books for Kirkus. Add that to her list of professional accomplishments.
Rosbe attests that she was not contemplating a writing career until that fateful day when, as she browsed through books at a big box store, she came upon racks that featured local history softcover volumes. Leafing through the pages, Rosbe liked the format that gave generous space for historical pictures and documents augmented with descriptive text from those bygone days. Noting the publishing company’s name, she decided to pitch them the idea of pulling together a book on Marion’s historic homes, a topic she knows so well. Arcadia Publishing Company jumped at the concept, and Rosbe’s new career was launched.
“Marion,” the book, was published in 2000. That was followed in 2002 with a deep dive into the rich maritime background Marion can claim with “Maritime Marion Massachusetts.” She said this second book had far fewer graphic elements and more historical text. After being selected by the Beverly Yacht Club to write their history, Arcadia published “The Beverly Yacht Club” in 2006. Rosbe was clearly gaining momentum with community groups seeking her talents to bring their organizations’ history to the fore.
That was again the case with “Marion Art Center,” Rosbe’s 2007 published take on the glorious backstory of the cultural gem. But her opus may be the 2009 “Marion in the Golden Age,” which takes the reader into those Elysian days when President Grover Cleveland summered in Marion where it is said he loved to fish.
“St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church” is more than a slim volume that looks back at the people who have called this house of worship home. It details the construction history, including stained glass windows and the benefactors who funded them.
Rosbe said each of the first five books was dedicated to one of her grandchildren. When her daughters jokingly said she had never dedicated a book to them, she decided to rectify the matter. This latest publication is dedicated to her daughters and her husband.
For now, Rosbe claims she is done with authoring historical books. But that remains to be seen, as history has a way of repeating itself.
Rosbe’s “St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church” book, along with her other titles, is part of Arcadia’s Images of America series and available through the church office.
By Marilou Newell