What they teach you at Harvard… Organizing information for those you love – Harris N. Hershey Rosen

by Harris N. “Hershey” Rosen, contributing writer, author

During my first week of college at Harvard, the president of the university addressed our freshman class and explained that it was not the university’s purpose in the next four years to have us memorize information – but rather, to learn where to get it.

Years later a noted cardiovascular researcher in Rhode Island asked for budget information for a report he was giving at a board meeting in less than an hour. He wanted to familiarize himself with the total budget, and fundraising goals. The staff member who had worked with him many times over the year “knew he knew those numbers” so she asked him, “oh…I thought you had those on the tip of your tongue”, as she scrambled to find just what he wanted. He explained to her, “I believe you only have so much brain cells and I prefer to put information not readily accessible in them – especially when I know other information can be found easily – then I don’t take up those important brain cells with unnecessary data”. Made sense to her. She carried a bit of that philosophy throughout her professional career. She learned to know where her “tools” were and use her “brain” for far more complicated things.

The same holds true for “Why? Because I Love You”.  It will be your tool – and your loved ones’ tool – when you need to know or find something, you’ll know where to look.  The book I wrote has been prepared with love – as a gesture to help ease you into the next phase of your life, and I hope that it does.

I take the same organizational skills I learned that first time at Harvard, and much like the researcher, to find a system to store and retrieve vital information. Yes, much of it resides in my brain. But suppose my brain were to get tired, or go on an extended vacation, or simply cease to exist. A lot of good that would do to those I left in my wake, expecting to pick up with less than a beat or two missed.

Quick! What’s your second grandchild’s birthday?

And…how old are they now – and what’s their email and phone number?

Don’t know? Need to go to three or four places to find that info? Or shout to your spouse or partner, “what’s Billy’s email”? Well, if you had a system you could stop doing all of that. You’d have it in one handy spot – and once a year you’d update it.

As I’ve gotten older and more of our friends are single, there is a greater need to reach out, to maintain relationships – so that they can enjoy the company of another person or couple and avoid being alone. One way to stay connected is to remember their special events – some of which your partner may know and others you may be familiar with. Why not pool your information so that your partner won’t forget these dates, too?

We’ll create a list which will include…

  • The name and address of the person – include social media addresses – email, Twitter – and phone numbers, cell and landline.
  • Their special occasion – birthday, anniversary, special holidays to them (Christmas, Passover, etc.).

How to create the list

  • Calendars that you and your partner have kept on the computer or on paper
  • Remember to transfer the birthday/anniversary, etc. dates over when you do your new datebook.

Then what?

  •  Then – you have to check it!  Try the 15th of every month…that gives you time to buy a card, postage, mailing a gift, etc.

That’s one example…but think of how many times you will get up from your chair, pause, and wonder just where that particular, important, tidbit of information will be?

This photo is special to me. It’s a group of small business owners and I was invited to speak to them about this topic of organizing essential information. I think they might have been more intrigued by my role at the iconic School House Candy, but soon you could see the cogs of the wheels in their brain clicking ever so slowly. There was almost a pained look on their faces. Most were men. Most were older than mid-life. Most were married with children and some with grandchildren. You could see the pain they were feeling knowing that they had NOT put this information down for their families – and yes, it was another thing to do – and an important one.

I had to tell them that they could start slowly, a little at a time, because this can be an exhausting process. But the book would help them. When I speak before a group like this I see the burden of being the only-on-who-knows-these-things come across several people’s faces. They buy my book. They commit to doing it. They know it’s important. They know it’s important to start. “Why? Because I love you” says it all. Right in the title.

Let’s do it together. One step at a time.


Harris “Hershey” Rosen, is the author of WHY? Because I Love You, a book that says it like it is – “What you need to know when I die”. His book details methods to organize your important personal and family information for those who are left behind.

A graduate of Harvard, Hershey Rosen has focused on controlling chaos since 1954. He was a Financial Control Officer in the U.S. Army, where he received a Letter of Commendation for improvement to its worldwide accounting system. Next, on to satisfying everyone’s sweet tooth, he ran a candy company for 40 years, developing a system for locating ANY item housed in five factories, covering 600,000 square feet.

Following “retirement,” Hershey went on to become a mediator and settled over 200 disputes for the state of Rhode Island and The Community Mediation Center of Rhode Island. He was also asked to team-teach management courses at the University of Rhode Island, where he enthusiastically challenged the text book with real-life experiences, to the delight and edification of the students.

Always passionate about assisting others, Hershey has been a director or trustee of numerous boards and organizations. He has written Creating A Guide So Your Loved Ones Can Go On Living! to help others protect their spouses (and families) from the intense stress that will occur if one does not share financial information and knowledge critical to a functioning home. He then wrote My Family Record Book, expanding on the information in his first book, and finally, in 2020, WHY? Because I Love You was published.

Hershey, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island, can now relax (ha!) with his beloved wife, Myrna, and enjoy visits with their combined five children and ten grandchildren.

“WHY? Because I Love You” – available here: