Nathaniel Rosebur Jr.

Nathaniel Rosebur Jr. of Greenwood, known widely as a talented musician, died Thursday at the age of 36.

Nathaniel Rosebur Jr. of Greenwood was known by many as a talented multi-instrumentalist.

But he was also known as a fighter who wouldn’t let sickle cell anemia define him or his attitude about life.

Mr. Rosebur, whose nickname was JR, passed away Thursday morning at Greenwood Leflore Hospital. He was 36.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Friday. Sanders & Sanders Funeral Home is in charge.

One of the effects of sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder, is fatigue. To those who knew Mr. Rosebur well, he seemed anything but fatigued.

“His big warm smile — he would always greet you with a big warm smile no matter how sick he was,” said Samantha Milton. She knew him through her church, Morning Star Missionary Baptist, where he played the keyboard during services. He also played at Hayward Chapel M.B. Church in Money on the second Sunday of every month.

Sometimes he was hospitalized but all the same would show up for church at 11 a.m. on Sundays. “He could be sick, but he just bounced right back. He had so much charisma,” Milton said.

Mr. Rosebur’s talents were  known throughout the Delta because he played for numerous churches in Greenwood and the surrounding area, Milton said.

He also was part of a family musical group, the Gospel Echoes. Mr. Rosebur played the drums and provided the vocals. His father, Nathaniel Rosebur Sr., played lead guitar; his sister, Marilyn Rosebur, played bass guitar.

Travis Walls, a cousin and mentor, said Mr. Rosebur began playing the drums when he was 9, before he took up the bass, guitar and keyboard.

“I helped him get started on some things. He had a great spirit,” said Walls, a musician himself.

Just last Saturday, Walls said, the family had a gathering in which Mr. Rosebur provided the music. He also won a basketball shootout, Walls said.

“He was a tough fighter,” Walls said.

Hannah McCoy, a retired Amanda Elzy High School teacher, had him in her class when he was in 10th grade.

“He was a very good young man, a very good student,” McCoy said. She added he did not let ill health get the best of him.

In fact, McCoy said, Mr. Rosebur showed concern for others, such as a friend who had seizures. In the event of a seizure, Mr. Rosebur knew to turn his friend over to prevent him from swallowing his tongue, McCoy said.

Keldridge Westbrook, who had been friends with Mr. Rosebur since the early 2000s, said, “You really couldn’t tell that he was sick. The man, he was just amazing at what he does. God really blessed him to play the keyboard.”

Mr. Rosebur, a 2001 graduate of Amanda Elzy High School, is survived by his father, his sister, and a brother, Timothy Cotton. His mother was the late Mary Strickland.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or

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