Batavia man who died saving boy awarded Carnegie Hero Medal

The family of a Batavia man who died while saving children caught in a rip current last year on Tuesday received a rare Carnegie Hero Medal posthumously recognizing his bravery.

Pete Rosengren was vacationing with his wife and three sons at Miramar Beach in Florida on March 28, 2021, when the tragedy occurred. Though there were warning flags about the rough water, multiple people dove into the choppy waves that day. The Rosengren family had been on the beach for only a few minutes when Pete ran into the water in response to the screams of fearful children being swept further out into the gulf waters.

Rosengren, a former Daily Herald sales executive, helped save the life of a 9-year-old boy but lost his own life in the effort.

That's the type of deed the Carnegie Hero Commission recognizes.

  Maura Rosengren talks about her son Gavin with family and friends after a ceremony Tuesday that posthumously awarded the Carnegie Hero Medal to her husband, Pete. Pete Rosengren of Batavia drowned while attempting to rescue kids struggling against a dangerous rip current in the Gulf of Mexico. Rick West/

Rosengren's wife, Maura, and their three boys - Gavin, Charlie and Grant - accepted the medal from the Kane County Board, who gave it on behalf of the Carnegie commission.

"It's bittersweet," Maura Rosengren said. "But this is such a huge honor that he gave his life for. This past year has been tough, but the boys keep life pretty busy. It's been ups and downs, but they keep me strong. We're doing OK, but this is just so special to us."

The Carnegie commission has given out more than $40 million in family support, death benefits and education scholarships to the surviving children of people who risked their lives to an extraordinary degree while attempting to save the lives of others. Only about 10,000 people have been recognized for the award in the 118-year history of the foundation.

Daily Herald President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Stone recalled his colleague as a man who loved both his town and the newspaper industry.

As the Daily Herald's vice president of sales and digital strategy, Pete Rosengren always made time for his wife, Maura, and their sons, Gavin, Charlie and Grant. The 42-year-old Batavia resident died last year while rescuing children from a rip current during a vacation in Florida. Courtesy of Rosengren family

"Pete loved life, and he was bigger than life," Stone said. "He was a great man, and he'd be honored by what you're doing here today."

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke attended the ceremony. He shared a story about working with Pete Rosengren to improve the youth baseball facilities in town. That included upgrades to the baseball field adjacent to where two Batavia legends, Sam Rotolo and Phil Elfstrom, are buried.

Rotolo was a pioneer leader in the Batavia school system. Elfstrom is perhaps best known for helping bring the Kane County Cougars to the area.

Schielke said Elfstrom wanted to be buried near the youth baseball field to stay in contact with two of the aspects he most loved about the community. Pete Rosengren has now joined those two icons in sharing that final resting place by the baseball field.

  Daily Herald newspaper executive Pete Rosengren was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Hero Medal in Geneva Tuesday. Rick West/

"Pete was a husband, a father, a citizen and a model of excellence in all those roles he played," Schielke said. "He was happy to live in Batavia. The life he lived really spoke to making this world a much better place for all of us to live in."

Rosengren's 13-year-old son, Charlie, played baseball there. And his 8-year-old son, Grant, will play baseball on the field for the next two seasons.

"It was important to the boys," said Maura Rosengren. "That's where they wanted him to be. When they play, it will kind of feel like he's there. He can still be there for them at their games."

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