A son of the late Roswell S. and Edith (Howard) Bosworth, Roswell S. Bosworth, Jr. was destined to follow in the footsteps of his enterprising father who had edited and published the Bristol Phoenix for nearly fifty years, from 1928 to 1974.
Born on September 2, 1926 to one of Bristol’s oldest families, young Roswell graduated from Colt Memorial High School as the “Class Journalist” and later continued on this path by editing his college newspaper at URI.
During World War II, Ros trained for combat missions with the Army Air Force, and when the war ended in 1945 he was commissioned as an Air Force Reservist, serving in that capacity through 1963.
After joining the staff of his family’s newspaper, Roswell grew the Phoenix from a one-town paper into a group that has thrived for decades. Bosworth established the Barrington Times in 1958, the Warren Times in 1961, the Sakonnet Times in 1967 and the East Bay Classifieds in 1985 as subsidiaries of the East Bay Newspapers, which he led for 25 years. He was the “Dean of community newspapers” who made time to listen to his readers.
An active participant in town culture, he chaired the Bristol Fourth of July Committee and served as Chief Marshal of the 1981 parade. He also helped to draft the Bristol Town Charter that was approved by the voters in 1970.
Not afraid to call an administrator or politician to task, he gave equal time in his newspapers to his detractors. He believed in fair, honest journalism, and cleared space for columns and letters from his constituents. He gave voice to his many Portuguese and Italian readers by publishing a “Portuguese Page”, which the late Dr. Manuel da Silva, a Hall of Fame inductee, and the late Luis Martins edited. So touched by this recognition, the president of Portugal later awarded Mr. Bosworth the eminent Order of Prince Henry the Navigator.
In addition to his distinguished newspaper career, Ros was a staunch preservationist who changed the landscape of Bristol. Spearheading the movement to restore historic Linden Place, which had been built by slave trader George DeWolf and designed by architect Russell Warren, Bosworth enthusiastically supported its restoration and served as its second president.
Ros also had a hand in the development of Colt State Park and Independence Park. While serving as chairman of the Bristol Harbor Commission he encouraged the building of the Rockwell Park town dock, the State Street boat launching ramp, and the acquisition of land which later became Bristol Town Beach and sports complex.
Finally, Ros was a key player in the transfer of Roger Williams College (later University) from the Providence YMCA basement to its current site in Bristol. The 120-acre campus, known as Ferrycliffe Farm, was owned by Dr. Marshall Fulton and Mary Howe DeWolf Fulton. Ros, who had worked at the farm as a boy, was able to broker the transaction between the Fultons and then-President Ralph Gauvey.
Ros died on February 7, 2017 at the age of ninety and was laid to rest in Bristol’s North Burial Ground. He is survived by his wife Marcia, and son Peter, daughter Barbara, and two stepsons, Matthew and Jonathan Hayes.
Roswell Bosworth, Jr. was a true Rhode Island treasure, whose vast contributions to Bristol, Rhode Island and the entire East Bay changed the landscape and culture of our state.