Two years ago, Gil Rosenberg wrote an opinion piece for the Herald-Leader, sharing words that helped fuel his drive for helping others.
"I am but one voice among many," the migrant-worker advocate and college sociology teacher wrote in the 2010 article. "But in our country one voice can still count."
Mr. Rosenberg, 57, died Saturday in an automobile crash on Interstate 75 in Fayette County. His family and friends said he lived by those words as he advocated for farm workers, undocumented Hispanics, and others in the Bluegrass.
In the late 1990s, Mr. Rosenberg co-founded the Migrant Network Coalition a broadbased group of public and private organizations advocating for Hispanics.
Mr. Rosenberg believed "in the basic dignity of every person" and advocated for those who had little means of support, said his wife June Widman.
Mr. Rosenberg, who lived in Berea, taught sociology at Eastern Kentucky University's campuses in Manchester and Lancaster and Danville and at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
In the 2010 Herald-Leader commentary, Mr. Rosenberg said he had been involved in issues of immigration and undocumented workers since 1976 when he worked in an orchard in Oregon during a college break.
Mr. Rosenberg said he worked in a labor camp with 30 undocumented workers from Mexico for four years, doing harvest and fruit-packing work. In Kentucky, he said he worked for UK's Cooperative Extension Service, educating farmers on migrant labor issues when the first migrant workers came to the state.
Mr. Rosenberg worked for migrant health clinics at the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University and taught English as a second language for EKU adult education.
"Gil always put the interests of the children and families of the migrant community as a priority. He encouraged the pursuit of education and he sought out opportunities to help those students who wanted to put forth the hard work to achieve their dreams," said Michael Hay, Director of the Migrant Education Program at EKU.
Mr. Rosenberg, in the Herald-Leader commentary, said he worked on a national research project examining immigrant farm-worker issues and wrote a report representing the situation in Kentucky in the 1990s.
More recently, he was supporting passage of the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act, which would allow illegal immigrants who arrived as children and graduated from U.S. high schools to go on to college.
In 2009 and 2010, Mr. Rosenberg also taught English as a second language to the Spanish-speaking ballplayers on the Lexington Legends minor-league baseball team.
"They, too, are migrant workers away from their families," he said at the time.
Wherever he taught, Mr. Rosenberg relayed to his students a message that he carried out in his advocacy work, said Widman.
He believed "every person deserves a chance and by telling their story'' their humanity comes through, she said.In addition to his wife, Mr. Rosenberg is survived by a son and a daughter.
A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Saint Clare Catholic Church in Berea. Visitation will begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the church. Arrangements are being handled by Davis & Powell Funeral Home.