It is not similarities that create harmony, but the art of fusing various elements that enrich life. - Anonymous (one of Rose’s favorites)

Reflectology: In Time I See
autobiographical Story)

College senior year book photo (1969)

Rose Ann Russo was born on September 25, 1947, in Norwich, Connecticut. At the age of eighteen months she lost her right arm in an auto accident. This blessing of fate shaped Rose’s life in a unique pattern of experiences that challenged her to overcome the consequences of personal tragedy. With faith and determination instilled by her mother, Rose developed her own "different" identity.

One consequence of the above-elbow amputation was the necessity for bone revision operations until Rose physically ceased to grow. Another was a prosthesis with a hook which drew so much negative attention during her junior high years that she changed to an artificial hand for high school. She dutifully wore a conventional prosthesis until age thirty when she rebelled against what she perceived as society’s pressure to imitate normalcy. She devoted the next decade to developing a genuine identity. In that time she learned that both function and comfort mattered and the imitation meant limitation as far as what her creative spirit longed to achieve. Her next prosthesis was a custom made socket and attachment for depressing chord buttons on an autoharp, the instrument she had played in college with a ruler wrapped to her limb.

A Connecticut State fund for the handicapped enabled Rose to attend Keuka College on Keuka Lake in Upstate New York. She entered in the fall of 1965. The role model her sister had provided as tutor to her and her brother greatly influenced Rose’s decision to choose teaching as a profession. She graduated in 1969, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. Rose accepted a fifth grade position in the vicinity of scenic Keuka Lake and married a local resident who also had one arm.

In 1973, Rose received from the University of Rochester a Master of Arts Degree in Education with a specialty in Reading. She taught fifth grade for five years. During this period Rose and her team teaching partner developed "The Comprehensive Reading Program for Intermediate Grades." In 1974, the State Education Department in conjunction with the New York State Reading Association recognized the innovative management and instructional system as one of the top reading programs in the state. At the request of the superintendent, Rose then created the district’s first remedial reading program at the junior senior high level. Her former team teaching partner joined Rose again in 1977. They developed the Tower Thinking, Writing, Reading Program which they presented at the Ninth Annual Toward Humanizing Education Conference sponsored by the New York State Education Department, Division of Humanities and Arts Education.

Rose undertook the study of Spanish in 1980, because of her ever-widening interest in language and culture. In 1987, she took a semester sabbatical to earn a state teaching certificate in French. Upon returning to the classroom, she taught both languages. In 1990, Rose completed state certification in Spanish.

Outside of school, Rose served local Sheriff’s Departments as a multi-lingual translator. She also helped organize her church’s outreach program for Hispanic migrant farm workers, whose faith and music she admired and participated in.

Rose’s interest in music had developed in her early childhood. Her father was her primary model of singer, songwriter, musician, performer, and entertainer, both in the home and professionally. His influence pervaded Rose’s life well beyond his untimely death when she was ten. The private art lessons Rose took during the traumatic period following his death proved a positive means of self-expression. She continued taking lessons for six years. As a result of developing artistic skills, Rose became art editor of her high school newspaper and received from her senior classmates the award of "class artist".

During her junior year of high school Rose learned to play the cornet in the school band. She played in numerous concerts including a performance in the New England Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. Also during the high school years, Rose attended revival meetings where live gospel music revitalized her spirit and sparked her enthusiasm for vocal harmony.

In college Rose took voice lessons. Accompanying herself on the autoharp, she enjoyed singing and playing in her free time. During the early Seventies, Rose sang in a quartet at a small local church. At nearby prayer meetings Rose developed a friendship with a singer/songwriter whose example inspired her to create her own music. As a duo, Rose and her friend performed their original songs in church services and other spiritual gatherings.

Rose divorced in 1980, after ten stormy years of marriage. She developed a serious relationship with a fellow teacher. He also sustained injury due to an accident. Together they designed and built a passive solar house in a hill not far from Keuka Lake. Their enthusiasm for acoustic music led them to attend bluegrass festivals throughout the state and to invite musicians in the local area to their home for jam sessions. At festivals and jams, Rose practiced singing lead as well as harmony. Performing with friends at civic events gave Rose experience as a band member and organizer.

As a whole, Rose’s activities in the Eighties reflected her many and varied interests. Horseback riding was one of her favorite activities. The trainer at the farm where Rose boarded her spirited mare designed an attachment for the front of her saddle that enabled her to ride in women’s rodeo. In 1986, "Rosie" along with her trainer’s two daughters won the New York State Women’s Rodeo Championship Team Penning Event. After several years of intense competition, Rose and her horse retired to recreational trail blazing.

The experiences of sailing on Keuka Lake and hunting on its surrounding hills reflected Rose’s deep appreciation for nature. To explore different cultures, Rose traveled to Europe and Mexico. She and her friends particularly enjoyed sailing adventures in the Virgin Islands and San Francisco Bay.

In the mid-Eighties, Rose bought property adjacent to the solar house and there developed and established The Friend Shop. She sold on consignment "herb specialties and friend-made gifts" created by over thirty friends who shared her interest in either herbal lore or arts and crafts. The Friend Shop gave Rose valuable experience networking and operating a small business.

In the early Nineties, basic incompatibilities in her second long-term relationship precipitated another stormy period in Rose’s life. Before and after the final break-up, the process of self-assessment, coming to awareness, and readjustment required renewed faith and determination. During this period Rose produced a number of introspective songs. She formed a collection of old and new compositions and enlisted help to realize her new vision of recording an album. In December of 1992, The Friend Shop became a pre-recording studio where musically talented friends volunteered their time to rehearse sixteen songs to be recorded at a studio in Rochester, New York. Rose named her new business Friendmade Music and her supportive friends, The Right Hand Band.

In summary, Rose’s life developed along three lines of growth: her personal life, her avocation, and her vocation. Along the path of personal life, Rose’s journey to wholeness as an individual and a woman was complicated by a handicapping condition that confused her perception of herself and other’s perceptions of her. Along the path of avocation, Rose’s journey to fulfillment as an artist was hampered by storms in her personal life and the ever-present demands of her vocation. Along the path of the vocation, education, Rose’s journey to self-respect was imperiled by her own nature which always compelled her to seek innovative, more functional ways of educating. Always being out on a limb, Rose was vulnerable to non-acceptance and low self-esteem.

In 1993, circumstances raised Rose to a new level of fulfillment. On the personal side, Rose’s music so inspired artist Parkinson Pino that he created the engaging cover for her CD and asked for her hand in marriage. They wed on Armistice Day, November 11, 1993. As for her avocation, on November 7, 1993, Rose finally released cassettes and CDs entitled In Time I See, a pun on the collection’s title song In tim a cy. Along the line of vocation, Rose finally perfected her "Scholastic Solar System" of language study. When the school board offered a retirement incentive to teachers with twenty-five years of service, Rose accepted. She retired in June of 1994.

The studio that recorded Rose’s music promoted In Time I See and drew attention to Rose and her accomplishments. As a result, she received acclaim in local and regional press and in a TV interview on a cultural affairs program featuring Rose’s song about being ‘handicapped’. In time she saw herself in a position to inspire the physically challenged to develop their talents and to educate the public about what it means to be ‘physically challenged’. Consequently, she launched a cause-related marketing campaign to benefit nonprofit organizations whose purpose was to meet the needs of the physically challenged. She first established a profit-sharing relationship with the Rochester based National Association of People with Disabilities. Rose shared with NAPD proceeds of sales of In Time I See promoted by an ad in their magazine, Challenge. Rose then arranged to benefit a whole network of nonprofit organizations in an ever widening field of service.

The fusion of her personal life, avocation, and vocation into a whole lifestyle generated in Rose the self-confidence to accept new challenges. When the first retail store to offer In Time I See invited Rose to perform in January of 1995, she armed herself with the socket made earlier for the autoharp and an attachment designed and fabricated for her by one of The Right Hand Band. She began to practice on her dobro which was easier to keep in tune than an autoharp and had a resonating sound instrumental in supporting voice. She played and sang her songs for a receptive audience in her first solo concert.

Time saw Rose Ann Russo develop and evolve, and in time she saw herself emerge as a rose does: in her own time and in her own way. Her unique pattern unfolded in her music and continued to reveal itself. The rest is his story.

If passion drives, let reason hold the reins. - Benjamin Franklin

(His abridged Story)

College senior year book photo (1983)

Idealistic achievements are family traditions on both sides of Park’s ancestry. On his maternal (English) side was Great Uncle Woody who always used to say "I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow." As the 28th President of the United States, he (Woodrow Wilson) envisioned the League of Nations that led to the creation of the United Nations. And then there was Great . . . Great Grandpa (Richard) Kimball who came to The New World on The Elizabeth in 1634 to settle a "frontier" called Massachusetts. On Park’s paternal (Sicilian) side was Great Uncle Tony. As the mastermind behind The Brink’s Job, he (Antonio Pino) succeeded in pulling off the greatest American heist of its time without harming a soul. (Incidentally, his character was portrayed by actor Peter Falk in The Brink’s Job movie.) And then there was mysterious Great . . . Great Uncle Paulo Pino whose accomplishments were worthy enough to allow him to be buried in The Pantheon in Rome.

Park was born and lived in Massachusetts, attended school in Rhode Island, and summered in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. His active imagination and creative talents were recognized at an early age and channeled into music and art. After attending a Quaker school, Moses Brown, he completed secondary education at The Wheeler School with an Independent Study in Art & Architecture in Italy.

This experience broadened his appreciation of art, highlighted its significance to culture, and influenced his decision to enter the Fine Arts program at Skidmore College. There he continued to develop his Studio Art while concentrating on Art History and Classical Studies. He spent his junior year abroad at Temple University/Tyler School of Art in Rome, pursuing Independent Studies in all three disciplines, including research at the Vatican Library Archives. He graduated from Skidmore to graduate studies in Art History and Art Theory at Harvard University's Extension Program.

Park supported his education, travel, and life as an independent artist in Newport, Boston, Alaska, and Manhattan through work in various occupations including substitute teacher, longshoreman, museum attendant, artisan, and waiter. He balanced his life with volunteerism.

His cultural studies, work experiences, and volunteer positions stimulated the sense of social responsibility Park expressed in his art, traditional in its communication of meaning. Moved to support humanitarian causes through his personal creative efforts, Park founded a nonprofit organization for the Arts and produced a one-man show in SoHo benefiting two educational institutions and an AIDS foundation. Ultimately, his sense of social responsibility and desire to contribute his creativity to culture became Creativity within Reason.

Park came to the Finger Lakes Region to work on a commission resulting from one of his shows. Rose's music so inspired Park that he created the engaging image for the cover of her album and asked for her hand in marriage. "His art brought him here, and my art made him stay." Their home was on Italy Hill nearby Keuka Lake in the legendary Finger Lake Region of Central New York. Y-shaped Keuka Lake features the ancient confluence of two watercourses. The courses of their lives merged there in 1993 uniting their contributions in the Arts and Education to the flow of culture. Pondering the question of cultural renewal while washing dishes on their first Christmas, Park conceived of The Cause Collection. The rest is history.

A highlight of Cause Collection exhibits was the Be-In, Park's informative presentation of the art and Rose's solo performance of the accompanying Bein' Spiritual songs. An amputee since infancy, Rose was able to play the dobro and autoharp with the help of her custom-made prosthesis. Sharing the example of their personal experiences, Rose & Park (who has a “reading disability”) demonstrate the necessity of being both patient and persistent in achieving personal goals as well as social change. Concluding the Be-In was an open forum providing participants an opportunity to interact with both artists and express their own perspectives on cultural renewal.

Making a statement to make a difference, Rose & Park began their Cause Collection tour in the fall of 1996. They brought their program to Skidmore College and Finger Lakes Community College. What followed can be best understood from the words of their Holiday letters:

Message of Hope '97

Once again it's time to get our Christmas cards out by Martin Luther King Day, a tradition that has many benefits, as you can imagine, and special meaning for us as we live our dream. We never dreamed that in '97 we would learn such an important lesson. The year began with excursions to share The Cause Collection with students at a number of educational institutions in Rhode Island (the State of Hope). There we learned our message of hope through self-awareness and social responsibility resonated with secondary schoolers as well as college students, friends, and family. We hoped to participate in the University of Oklahoma, Norman, “Get a Grip” week in February, but thankfully things were postponed, allowing us to begin work early on cutting the new CD that accompanies The Cause Collection, Bein' Spiritual.

In the spring we brought our message to Herkimer Community College and Hobart & William Smith Colleges. We also visited prospective venues in Manhattan where things looked hopeful for the fall. Our theme of hope carried us throughout the summer, for The Cause Collection was available to the general public (mostly tourists) at a local Greek Revival Mansion, Esperanza (Hope). There we learned our message resonated with people of all ages and origins while also serving students of neighboring colleges. Consequently, we were encouraged to share our message online by the fall, but our momentum was abruptly interrupted.

In early September, Rose became ill with what appeared to be a kidney stone problem. To make a long story short, she began the month as a seemingly healthy forty-nine year old and ended the month as a fifty year old with advanced osteoporosis, having the bones and posture of a woman in her nineties. Unfortunately, that was the good news. The bad news was that multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer) was the cause. The doctors told us we'd be lucky if Rose lived another six months. Appropriately, Bein' Spiritual was released on the day we got the diagnosis.

Thank God we experienced all that hope. What goes around comes around, so with hope, prayer, faith, strength of will and community, and love, of course, things are improving day by day. The medical industry's traditional methods disagreed with Rose's chemistry. We're quickly learning the counter culture of alternative medicine and its advantages, thanks to family, friends, neighbors, and the kindly Mennonites who've settled in our region. It seems so many people have direct experience with cancer and a need for alternative treatments these days.

So, with a renewed sense of the value of hope, we carry on. They say Rose is in "some sort of remission," but they don't know how long it will last. Meanwhile, our message of hope is quite a bit more fortified with experience, and we hope to share it online soon at Or if you prefer to "turn off, tune out, and drop in,". . . And so we begin this year in another state of hope, praying all your dreams come true while keeping the lid on Pandora's box.

Please keep us in your prayers. Love, Rose & Park

P.S. Patsy will be 33 years old on St. Patrick's Day. Each human year is 3 - 3.5 horse years, so she's not only a centaur, but also a centenarian, and we still have much to learn from her!

'98 & '99

We dreamed of contacting you once again with our traditional Christmas mailing around Martin Luther King Day, but we were entertaining circumstances beyond our control - acknowledging Thy will be done. Early last May we celebrated surpassing Rose’s prognostic "deadline" at the Rose Cultural Festival. Many expected this event to be her memorial. Rather, we chose to perceive it as an opportunity for Rose to actively attend her own festive funeral services and we greatly appreciate those who came to celebrate with us. When this jubilee was over, we soon realized what followed was indeed ‘borrowed time’. Creating time to receive such loving support made our experience a cross between This Is Your Life, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Life Is Beautiful. It was seemingly God sent since it came with so many blessings.

So, as Rose was declared "NO LONGER IN REMISSION" in August, bedridden in September, and subsequently pronounced "IN THE FINAL STAGE" for a great many stages thereafter, we continued to recreate our life to be in the present here at home and for the hereafter. All in all, nineteen months of heightened intuition, last works, and lasting memories reshaped our lives. We managed to remain in pretty good shape for the shape that we were in. A new meaning to our lives was the understanding that nowhere did our lives have more meaning than here together now. In time we saw that we had nothing but time, lifetime, to enjoy the rapture of our relationship with life itself.

We took time to honor the afterlife in accordance with our way of life. Naturally, Rose’s death on the morning of Tuesday, March 2nd was nearly imperceptible. Although her spirit remains, by afternoon her physical remains were interred in a private ceremony, laid to rest out in our pasture within a circular grove of pines we had named "Heaven." In this way, it can be said that she remains on Earth as she is in Heaven. An official approved the arrangements by stating, "Highly unconventional, but legal", and I affirmed, "Sounds just like my wife".

Thank you for your role in the many networks that helped make Rose’s passing such a beautiful experience for us. We envision another jubilee! Come celebrate her life here at home . . . In honor of Rose’s appreciation of/for originality and spirit, we encourage your meaningful expressions and request that your active participation help create this eventful time. Please realize that your only limitation is vision, not supervision, so we’re anticipating quite a celebration.

More good times, Yoshi lived a dog’s life and passed away in September. He’d been 10 for the past 5 years and it finally caught up with him. Patsy reached her 34th birthday this St. Patrick’s Day! Oddly enough, she’s as healthy as a horse since we retired her saddle. Our website,, is developing into an ideal venue for our creativity and vision. I’m now engaged in a good deal of "homework" that Rose & I designated for this time. I’m also exploring opportunities both here and back in Manhattan that will further our mission and message. Please recognize there’s still much to learn for the living. However, know that we are alive, we have a lifetime to live, and it’s what we make it. Keep becoming, Rose & Park

P.S. Just before she passed, I asked Rose if there is anything more we can DO? After some thought, she replied, "GOOD".

God Bless our community and thank you for your loving support during our nineteen month journey. Rose now enjoys eternal life, having lived and passed as she chose. She wishes for you to celebrate her life as you choose! "The Spirit’s a source, the Will’s a force, and the Choice is your". You may choose to honor her memory by contributing to this scholarship fund in her name: The Russo/Swem Community Service Scholarship Fund.

NOTE: Rose received a Certificate of Merit from New York’s Governor George E.Pataki on April 27, 1998:

. . . upon being recognized for your invaluable contributions to communities within Yates County for which you are paid tribute at the "Rose Cultural Festival" held in your honor. As a teacher, musician, volunteer and resident of Yates County, you are applauded and complimented for your many accomplishments that enhance the lives of others. As a Keuka College graduate, you are recognized by your fellow alumni as someone who is a source of pride through achievement in artistry, service to others, benevolence toward society, and strength of character.

As a “Perspectivist" (a.k.a. an "Artologist”), Park continues the work of The Cause Collection and enjoys developing other projects for Creativity within Reason. He spends his time between The Finger Lakes Region and Manhattan engaged in interdisciplinary collaborations including volunteer work for the State of New York and the Federal Government.

The future does not belong to those who are content with today . . . it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason, and courage in a personal commitment. - Bobby Kennedy