Influential attorney Morris Rosen, 92, dies


Morris David Rosen was the epitome of the Broad Street lawyer for more than half a century.

Rosen opened his Charleston practice in 1947, the year he graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School.

He was active until he retired in 2009 at age 90. He died Monday at 92.

Rosen was the city’s legal counsel during the tumultuous civil-rights era of the 1960s and early 1970s. Rosen said in a 2008 interview that he and Mayor Palmer Gaillard “didn’t wait for the Civil Rights Act” to desegregate the Charleston Municipal Golf Course in 1961. The course was the first public integrated facility in the area.

Rosen stepped down as counsel when Mayor Joe Riley took office in the 1970s. “He was a great warrior,” Riley said. “He played a very important role in the city’s modern history.”

Family members remembered Rosen as “a Southern gentleman with a positive attitude and a smile on his face,” according to an obituary.

Rosen was born Oct. 21, 1919, in Charleston, to Sol and Annie Rosen.

He graduated from the College of Charleston in 1942. He was a Coast Guard veteran of World War II, serving in the Pacific Theater, and was discharged as a first lieutenant in 1945.

Rosen was senior partner of Rosen, Rosen and Hagood.

The College of Charleston awarded him an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters in 1997. In 2008, Brith Sholom Beth Israel Synagogue recognized him for practicing law for 60 years.

Rosen was honored with the James Louis Petigru Award in 2011, the highest award given by the Charleston Bar Association.

He served as a past president of the Charleston County Bar Association, S.C. Bar, the College of Charleston Alumni Association and the S.C. Municipal Attorneys Association.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth Montgomery Rosen; daughter, Debra Rosen; and sons Robert N. Rosen and Richard S. Rosen.

A service will be held at 2 p.m. today at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, 90 Hassell St., in Charleston.