Palm Bay Community Center to be Renamed in Honor of Anthony J. Rosa

On April 5, 2016 the Palm Bay Recreation Advisory Board, at its regular meeting, unanimously voted in favor of renaming the Palm Bay Community Center for Anthony J. Rosa.  Palm Bay City Council unanimously approved their recommendation at the June 16 council meeting. Mr. Rosa was the City of Palm Bay’s first Parks and Recreation Director. He started the Department in 1968 and was the department Director until 1978.  He was the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department during the planning and construction stages of the Palm Bay Community Center and retired shortly after it opened in the summer of 1978.

Mr. Rosa was a mentor and coach to the youth of Palm Bay and was responsible for starting several youth sports programs in the city. He was one of the founders of the Brevard County Youth Football League which is still operating a quality program throughout the County.  Mr. Rosa’s vision to build the Community Center and the acquisition of the funding for construction was a pivotal point in not only the growth of the City’s Parks & Recreation Department but that of the city as a whole. The Palm Bay Community Center was the premier recreational facility in the county and transformed the department from a small operation to a full blown recreation department.

Current Parks & Recreation Director, Fred Poppe, was hired by Mr. Rosa in 1974 as a maintenance worker.  Mr. Poppe developed an interest in the field of recreation while working under Rosa.  Rosa developed Poppe’s passion for recreation by letting him go beyond parks maintenance and help out with programs on the recreation side of the department, such as leagues, managing volunteers, scheduling, buying uniforms and supplies, among other duties.  In 1976 Fred Poppe became Rosa’s assistant.  “Tony instilled in me the desire to work for my community and to serve others.  He truly cared about the Palm Bay community, especially the kids.  He loved being a coach and mentor for kids, and he knew the importance of providing recreational opportunities and discipline for them” said Poppe.  Mr. Poppe has patterned much of his management style after that of Mr. Rosa.

Palm Bay Community Center to be Renamed in Honor of Anthony J. Rosa

Palm Bay Community Center to be Renamed in Honor of Anthony J. Rosa

Troy Cox, Recreation Division Manager, was also hired by Mr. Rosa in the 1978.  Cox remembers Rosa as a no nonsense guy who was always upfront and honest with you.  “That came from his time in the military” Cox surmised.  “He was a no nonsense guy, but he encouraged you to follow through on your ideas and he didn’t interfere or tell you how things should be done.”  Mr. Cox cultivated his desire for a career in recreation while working under Mr. Rosa.

In addition to his work in the Palm Bay Community, Mr. Rosa was a Veteran of 23 years of service to his Country. He served in The Navy, Army and Air Force during those years. Most notably Mr. Rosa received the Silver Star in World War II while serving in the U.S. Navy. His ship was torpedoed and he single handedly saved the lives of 7 of his crew members.

The ceremony to officially change the name of the Palm Bay Community Center to the Anthony J. “Tony” Rosa Community Center will take place on Saturday, September 17 at 9 a.m. at the center, located at 1502 Port Malabar Blvd. NE.   Three of Rosa’s children; Jim Rosa, Paul Rosa, and Anne Marie Cazares, will be in attendance to see the building renamed in his honor as well as many other family members including grandchildren and great grandchildren.  The community is invited to attend the renaming ceremony.

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