Thursday, November 23, 2023


By Tim Rohr

On this day, on what was probably a cold November day in 1932, my dad was born in a farmhouse on Mudbrook Road outside of Massillon, Ohio. He was the 11th of 14 children, 11 of whom would make it to adulthood. 

It was called Mudbrook Road because a mud brook crossed under the road and dead-ended in a pond on my grandfather's farm. 

My dad grew up in a tough depression-stressed time, and like all of his siblings, was put to work on the farm as soon as he was useful.

He attended St. Mary's Parish School in Massillon where behind the church is a cemetery with about a third of the headstones bearing the name "Rohr." 

He attended Jacksonville High School, down at the end of Mudbrook Rd., where he was a standout Jacksonville Tiger halfback. 

After high school he joined the Navy, was stationed in San Diego, and served in the Korean War, during which time he met my mom. Eight children came from that union beginning with me. 

My dad was the first generation in a long line of both sides of his family to leave farming and move into the industrial world. And the move was complicated by moving from a quiet, stable, German farm family life to the noise, hustle, unstable, and anonymous big city life of a place called Los Angeles. 

It was a tough world. Dad only had a high school education in an age when a college degree meant a lot. However he could outwork anyone and everyone and he did. 

From my youth, I remember when he was a milkman, delivered newspapers, hand dug and installed sewer lines, tore down houses, built houses, moved houses, climbed power poles for Southern California Edison, and ultimately became an ironworker (placing rebar) for many of the freeways that crisscross Los Angeles today.

In the mid 1970's he started his own rebar company with my brother and I as his only workers. I won't say employees because he never actually hired us. He couldn't afford to do that. But he'd give us 10 bucks here and there - and sometimes buy us lunch. 

Later, as his business grew and Dad established a rebar fabrication yard, my brother and I became employees and then my youngest brother, Chris, joined the team. (Chris owns and runs Rohr Steel today - a very successful and very busy operation.)

Those were very hard years. My dad wasn't one to drink and party with the guys who handed out contracts. And the farm boy in him caused him to take many handshake deals that led to damaging losses. But he pressed on. 

Becoming a father doesn't come with a manual - something I was to become acutely aware of when raising my own 11 (children). So he made his mistakes (as I have). 

I never begrudged my dad his mistakes. Working next to him in smoggy LA ditches for several years taught me how to work and how to bleed without complaining, but more so, how to respect my father. 

He accumulated more than a million dollars in wealth before he died in 2014. Not bad for an Ohio farm boy who never made it past high school at the end of Mudbrook Road.

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