Bill Rosenfeld, 77, embodied ‘The Tucker Way’

Tucker City Council member Bill Rosenfeld on right with (l-r) Jayen McIlwaine, 11, Kennedy Waller, 15, and Tucker City Council member Anne Lerner at the city of Tucker tent during the 2017 Tucker Chili Cookoff in downtown Tucker. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — People in town often talk about The Tucker Way. It’s the genteel manner in which neighbors greet each other; the excited chit-chat at the start of a packed City Council meeting; the generosity extended to strangers. A community builder, a businessman and friend, Tucker City Councilmember William “Bill” Corey Rosenfeld, Sr. personified The Tucker Way.

Rosenfeld, 77, died last week from a previously undetected medical condition after a tough battle with COVID-19. The family could not be reached for comment.

He was born in Norfolk, Va., and attended Guilford College. As a young adult, he landed in Jacksonville, N.C., first as a guitar player in a rock band and later as a music promoter. North Carolina is also where he began his career as a paramedic, which he continued upon moving to metro Atlanta.

Tucker City Council members Bill Rosenfeld and Honey Van De Kreke (center) cut the ribbon for the new Sunrise Urgent Care Center in 2016. Photo by Dean Hesse.

By the early 1980s, Rosenfeld was working as a DeKalb County paramedic and designing jewelry as a hobby. He eventually attended school to learn how to repair and make jewelry, and his first customers were his paramedic friends.

Rosenfeld’s Jewelry began in a small shop on Memorial Drive at Rays Road. In those days, now-retired state representative Michele Henson would pop into his shop, a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in hand, and she’d ask Rosenfeld for advice. She was beginning her own journey as a jewelry maker.

“He was encouraging,” said Henson. “He was a wonderful friend and politically astute. We had lots of good discussions about Tucker and DeKalb County, but more than that we had conversations about what was going in our lives.”

Sharing his love of the arts was natural for Rosenfeld. When he met ART Station founder and artistic director David Thomas through other community endeavors, they became fast friends. Rosenfeld served as board chair at ART Station, a non-profit arts program in Stone Mountain.

One day, while driving to a meeting, Thomas asked, “Bill, why are you so passionate about the arts?” Rosenfeld laughed and replied, “Oh, you don’t know my history!” One question launched a thousand of Rosenfeld’s stories about playing in a band.

“When he spoke about ART Station, he would shine. It was like opening a gift to see him talk to people about ART Station,” said Thomas, tearfully. “He was a visionary and a businessman.”

During their last phone call, Thomas asked his dear friend for advice about accepting a government loan for small businesses and non-profits experiencing loss of revenue due to the pandemic. Had Rosenfeld not advised to go for it, Thomas said, ART Station would have never received a loan for $150,000. The money came in just days after Rosenfeld passed away.

As the first chair of the Tucker-Northlake CID, Rosenfeld was essential to the success of the organization. CID Executive Director Matthew Lee said Rosenfeld’s role with the CID was an extension of who he was every day – a trusted advisor and friend.

“He didn’t need to get a lot of attention to get things done. I think that made him a natural fit for the first City Council,” said Lee. “It didn’t take much convincing for him to get elected. He knew the people and for those he didn’t know he was quick to form new relationships. Relationships that didn’t fade. For Bill there was never a disconnect between his call to serve and those who called him. In all his elected roles, he understood the interests of those he represented. He was measured in his approach and I think that gave people a sense of confidence.”

Rosenfeld was elected to Tucker City Council in 2016. Councilmembers called him determined, stabilizing and steady while remembering his dedication to improving William McKinley Peters Park.

When Rosenfeld passed away, Kamal Elmoukha, a colleague and close friend, said they were making post-pandemic plans to travel to Spain and Morocco. The pair had traveled to Colorado, Texas, New York and beyond for jewelry shows.

“There isn’t an inch of this country Bill hasn’t seen,” said Elmoukha.

Rosenfeld could be found sipping whiskey at Smoke Rise Country Club, playing a round of golf or a game of pool, shaking hands and kissing babies at Tucker Day celebrations and volunteering his time at organizations throughout Tucker.

He is survived by his wife, Carmen Rosenfeld of Tucker, his daughter, Christy Rosenfeld-Lyvers of Athens, his son, Corey Rosenfeld of Atlanta, six grandchildren, and many more who called him family.

John Paul Monferdini hangs the official portraits of the inaugural Tucker City Council members (Bill Rosenfeld on far left) during an open house at the new Tucker City Hall Aug. 26, 2016. Photo by Dean Hesse.

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