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Back to toledo...

Oh Toledo, what keeps bringing me back, back to live, back to visit, back to UT, back to see family. You see I was born here at Toledo Hospital, grew up here on Montebello and my schools strangely kept getting closer to home, from Bancroft Hills, to Gesu, to St. Francis DeSales, to UT, which was right down the street to our 2nd home in Old Orchard on Cheltenham, where the UT homecoming parades came by every cool and crisp October.

Thinking back to my early days and riding my Schwinn Sting Ray, then Racer bicycle all over the place, between Gesu and Ottawa Park, those were wonderful days growing up, and living the middle class life of Toledo. I fell in love with golf at Ottawa Park, ye ole links, as SP Jermain referred to it as, and played my high school golf earning ALL City honors. Golf and OP became a big part of my summers, and delivering the Toledo Blade as well, on bike of course on the early Old Orchard morning route.

After completing my BBA at UT, I moved to Tampa, for greener pastures and warmer winters, but soon went broke and out of work, so I moved back to Toledo the first time and went to work at The Toledo Hospital as surgical orderly. The hospital had a tuition reimbursement program, so I enrolled in graduate school at UT and earned my MBA. But soon as I finished I was back down to Florida, just ahead of the Blizzard of 77, to rejoin my girlfriend, who became my wife.

Well after a couple of years in my entry level job at University Community Hospital in Tampa, now Florida Hospital, a job offer came and away we went to Knoxville TN for the coldest winter on record, -24 chilling degrees one morning. My boss got canned one day and so did I, so what happened next? We moved back to Toledo a 2nd time and a career job with Mercy & St Charles Hospitals which lasted a steady 13 years. We loved raising our two children in Toledo, a great place to live, coach my sons baseball team and grow up.

But then Mercy Hospital merged with St. V’s and formed Mercy Health Partners and my job was eliminated, so what happened?? You guessed it, we moved back to my second home Tampa, FL. And since that move back to Florida, I’ve come back to Toledo to visit and vacation at least a dozen times.

What the draw to Toledo you wonder?? Well, coming back to Toledo means Fall season and the spectacular Autumn Adventures at MetroParks, UT Rockets football and homecoming parades thru my old neighborhood, Old Orchard. Golf tournaments with the NCAA Finals and US Senior Open at Inverness Club,, and the Ladies LPGA. And playing golf at all my local faves, OP, Riverby Hills, Detwiler, Inverness, and Highland Meadows. Birdwatching at the MetroParks of Toledo and going out to Magee Marsh during the spring migration and #BWIAB. And finally family, yes back to be with family, mother, brother and sister and their families.

One of the things I love about Toledo is the ease of getting around anywhere you want to go anytime in 15-30 minutes!!! Here in Tampa it takes 20-30 minutes to get everywhere and longer to many places. And the other thing I love when I come back are eating & drinking at all the local faves, Tony Packos, Geno’s Pizza, Mancy’s, Starr Diner, The Beirut, Arnie’s Bar & Grill, Grumpy’s, Schmucker’s, Gradkowski’s, Rosies Italian, Carmel’s Mexican, El Camino, Red Wells Famous roast Beef, Rudy’s & Ideal hot dogs, Ye Olde Durty Bird, White Tower, and the list goes on and on. WE always eat well in Toledo.

My deep love and pride for Toledo inspired me to do two things. One was I became the UT Alumni Chapter leader in Tampa and we were named the chapter of the year. At this time I was nicknamed Rocket Rob, for my enthusiastic support and love of Rocket football. Coming back to Toledo and tailgating in Lot 10 with the Woollards has become a tradition. During this time UT legend Bruce Gradkowski was drafted by the TB Buccaneers and his family and I became good friends. The highlight was I finally got Bruce to attend one of our Rocket Alumni watch parties in Tampa.

The second thing I was inspired to do was to give back to golf and Ottawa Park when the Sundial bronze statue of SP Jermain “The Father of Toledo Parks and Boulevards” was stolen in 2006 and never found or returned as it had at least six times since its inception in 1928. So on a Fall visit to Toledo, I took to finding the lost treasure and went wading waist deep in Walden Pond to see if it had been dumped in the water. After coming up empty handed, I decided to do something and raise the funds to have it replaced. I formed the Friends of SP Jermain and we along with the Arts Commission of Toledo raised the $12,000 needed to have Brian Maughan resculpt it to original specs. We dedicated it complete with a ceremonial bagpipe player on May 25, 2009 and placed it on the original granite rock behind the first tee at Ottawa Park GC,. SP Jermain, the little man with the unbeaten soul who served this city like none other from 1870 to his death in 1935.

And now having just recently retired, I am seriously considering, can you believe it?, moving Back to Toledo !! This would be my third return, Back to Toledo, Stay tuned Toledo! MABUHAY…

My next vacation and Toledo visit is coming up in May for my first Biggest week in American Birding at Maumee Bay and Magee Marsh….Yahoooo..Mt. DEW !!!!!!

We had the pleasure of catching up with Rocket Rob at his beloved Ottawa Park golf club where his smile and evident love for Toledo was infectious, but we had to make sure we also included this great selfie with the Rocket itself!  Robert’s connection with Toledo and his giving nature can’t help but inspire you – so come on and join the party and send us your Love Letter to this wonderful city! 
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