RVC community pays respects to St. Patrick's Parade Co-Founder Francis ‘Bud’ Cosgrove


Francis “Bud” Cosgrove, 85, died in February but his impact on the community carries on in the heart and spirit of the annual Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

He was a Vietnam-era United States Army Veteran serving with the 269th Signal Company in Orleans, France, during the Berlin Wall Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Cosgrove went on to receive a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education and Physical Education from SUNY Brockport and a Master’s Degree in Physical Education and Recreation Administration from Columbia University.

He had an extensive public service career in the recreation, parks and sports field, serving as the Nassau County Deputy Commissioner of Recreation and Parks for 25 years. During his tenure, he was responsible for the management and operations of the county’s active parks system and its comprehensive array of programs and services.

Cosgrove played a significant role in the establishment of the Long Island Marathon, and the 1984 International Games for the physically challenged athletes of the world. He also played a significant role in the planning, development and operations of the Mitchel Park Sports Complex, which has seen outstanding success as a sports venue since its opening day. For many years he taught as an adjunct professor at LIU’s C.W. Post campus in the Department of Health Care and Public Administration. He has also taught at Adelphi University, St. Joseph’s College and SUNY Farmingdale.

Bud and his wife, Susanne, spent 54 years building a life in Rockville Centre. He took great pride in his community, which led him to serve as a village trustee for 12 years. But perhaps, the accomplishment that came him the most pride was his work with the Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which he co-founded in 1997.

“He was a staple of this community and he dedicated so much of his time for this parade,” Rockville Centre Mayor Francis Murray said.

Jackie Kerr, president of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee said Bud Cosgrove was a true gentleman with a fabulous smile and a great sense of humor.

“He probably didn’t think when he started this parade that the charities who received the funds would turn around and give back by joining the committee, but that’s exactly what happened with me and so many other charity recipients,” Kerr said. “I first joined the Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Parade committee in 2011 — the year after our organization, the Long Island Gaels Irish Football Club was a parade charity that greatly benefitted from the fundraising. I knew I had to find a way to give back. And, sure enough, Bud was at my very first meeting with a warm welcome and a smile.”

She recalled how in 2016, Bud came up with an idea to try and reach $1 million dollars in fundraising for the 20th anniversary of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“I was skeptical, but Bud was very confident,” Kerr said. “He gave a pep talk at every meeting to keep us motivated and focused and, sure enough, we succeeded. He truly left a legacy with this parade.”

Bud served on the parade committee’s executive board for 10 years, and in 2011, had the honor of being named the parade’s Co-Grand Marshal, along with his longtime friend, Joe Kelly.

“Everyone who has the honor of wearing that parade sash, or working with these amazing charities each year, does so on the shoulders of Bud and his fellow founders,” Ann Travers, vice president of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee, said. “This year we march in Bud’s memory, with gratitude for the gift of knowing him. We’re so thankful for all he taught us, and for his wife, Suzanne, who so generously shared so much of his time with us.”

The parade’s motto, the “parade that cares and shares,” was something he both embraced and encouraged others to live by. He would make time for everyone in his life and would always go out of his way to make sure that the needs of others came first.

He was also an enthusiastic athlete, who in 2001, joined Sportset Fitness in Rockville Centre as a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. He would take on the role as director of the Senior Wellness program, which he helped launch at a time when senior fitness was not a major proponent of the company.

Dennison Silvio, president and chief executive officer of Sportset, said that he had a great working relationship with Bud, who referred a great many people to join the program and eventually prompted them to merge with Mercy Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation center, nearly tripling the size of the entire program.

“I learned a lot from him,” Silvio said. “He had such a great ability to understand the macro goal. I really enjoyed working with him so much.”

With his advanced credentials in balance and fall prevention training, Cosgrove went on to create the Fall-Safe Program, a comprehensive training program designed for senior citizens to help prevent and mitigate the impact of falling.

Among his many great talents, he enjoyed performing the one-string washtub bass with the renowned Park Avenue Ragtime Jazz and Blues Society band, which was well-known in the Rockville Centre community.

Cosgrove loved his family and value his faith. He inspired his grandchildren and was so proud of each of them. He was quick to smile and even quicker to lend a hand.

He is preceded in death by his sister, Ann Marie “Mimi” Faulkner and survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Suzie Cosgrove; his six children, Michael Cosgrove (June), Amy Sanderson (Bryan), Danny Cosgrove, Cindy McGarity (John), Brian Cosgrove (Donna), Katie Holst (Jon); his 11 grandchildren, Carter Cosgrove, Caroline Cosgrove, Molly Cosgrove, Kaylee Sanderson, Brady Sanderson, Emily McGarity, Jack McGarity, Shane Cosgrove, Adelaide Cosgrove, Reed Holst, Reagan Holst; his sister, Cheryl Franzone (Pete); his brother-in-laws Peter Faulkner (Debbie), Herbert Bucholtz (Dee); and his nieces and nephews, Suzann, Peter, Douglas, Melissa, Shawn, Peter, Kristine and Jeanette.

Bud Cosgrove is remembered those who knew him best, for his eternal optimism and warmth. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Bud’s name to the RVC St. Patrick’s Day Parade. For more information visit