Steven Rosley sold tourmaline from Madagascar, opals from Australia and ajoite from South Africa.
“It’s amazing the colors that God has created in this universe,” he’d say. “She does a good job.”
Beyond their beauty, he believed that rocks and crystals promote healing and spiritual growth. His career as a self-described “Crystal Master” started in 1991, when — after a long career in the corporate world — he experienced what he called his “year of transformation.”
“My father died. I lost the best job I ever had” as a credit-card sales rep, he said in a 2009 video posted on YouTube. “I went through a really messy divorce while I was taking care of my mother with Alzheimer’s.”
He explained what happened next with a puckish comment: “When my unemployment insurance ran out, I had become accustomed to eating.”
So he decided to sell some of the hundreds of pounds of crystals he’d inherited from his father, a DuPont engineer whose hobby was collecting and polishing stones.
A trip to a flea market netted Mr. Rosley $350 from crystal buyers. And a career was born. He became a well-known figure in Chicago’s New Age community, operating Rosley’s Rocks and Gems at 4344 N. Western.
Mr. Rosley, 74, died Oct. 25 at the Near North Side Maple Pointe Senior Apartments. He had been treated for bile duct cancer and kidney cancer.
His son Jeremie said “it would be a fair statement” to call Mr. Rosley a non-traditional dad.
“He did try to be corporate, button-up for a good portion of my childhood,” he said. “But that wasn’t him.”
Born in Edgewood, Maryland, young Steven grew up in Northbrook, where he used his father’s rocks and crystals to participate in a mid-1950s science fair at Crestwood School. He graduated from Glenbrook North High School.
In 1967, he graduated from Bradley University.
He married his college sweetheart and operated a Glenview art gallery, Duncan-Rosley & Associates, specializing in antique and modern prints.
After he and his wife split up in 1972, he Euro-trotted for a while, living in Copenhagen, Manchester, Paris and Torremolinos, Spain. A purchase of Venetian trade beads in Guelmim, Morocco, gave him the inventory to make jewelry.
“He was able to hippie out in Europe by just hanging out, making jewelry,’’ his son said.
On the Greek island of Paros, he met a Frenchwoman, Martine Benoit. They got married and had Jeremie and a daughter, Stephanie. His second marriage dissolved in the early 1980s, Jeremie Rosley said.
Mr. Rosley was married a third time, in Glenview, to Denise Faith, with whom he had two more children, Tim and Luke.
After his “year of transformation,” he opened a crystal store in 1993 at 2153 N. Sheffield. He later moved the shop, first to Fullerton and Elston, then to Lincoln and Eastwood and finally, in 2014, to 4344 N. Western.
The store sometimes sported promotional signs for “Chakra Blasting.”
After his third marriage broke up, he fell in love with Sharyl Noday, his son said. While hunting for crystals in the desert outside of Roswell, New Mexico — where legends say an alien UFO crashed — he found pink alabaster he named “Sharylite” for her.
In an eBay listing, he marketed Sharylite as “a wonderful loving stone, it helps you know your heart. These beautiful hand-polished stones were mined by me near the ROSWELL crash site.”
“He represented the spirit of adventure and wonder as he shared his personal journeys through mining, through purveying, through legends,” said Chicago astrologer Dawn Silver, author of the book “Jewels of the Lotus, Crystal Healing Oracle.”
“He was like a little boy,” Silver said. “He was always enthusiastic. He was just excited about every new find.”
Though he searched for New Age answers, he loved real-world candy. His home had stashes of Lemonheads, licorice, gumdrops and Jujubes — “things that would stick in your dentures,” Jeremie Rosley said.
Mr. Rosley’s family plans to sell the store’s inventory through his Facebook page.
A memorial has been held. He is also survived by his beloved Pomeranian dog “Renard” — French for fox — now being cared for by his former wife Martine, Jeremie Rosley said.