DAYTON, Ohio – If former Moraine Mayor Bob Rosencrans was looking down on the Community Blood Center (CBC) memorial blood drive in his name Thursday, March 28, or watching all the coverage on the local TV news, he would have to smile at the changes since his untimely death in 2010. He’d see his grandkids playing, the city he loved picking itself up after tough economic times, and family and friends still donating blood on his birthday.
This marked the third annual Bob Rosencrans Blood Drive at the Dayton CBC, which Bob supported with 70 lifetime blood donations. He was first elected to the Moraine City Council in 1991. He was elected mayor, turned out of office in a contentious recall, yet returned triumphantly with an uncontested election to a second term as mayor in January 2010. He died tragically nine months later, October 15, 2010, in a traffic collision caused by a speeding motorist.
Bob’s son Wes Rosencrans was the first to donate at the drive and was soon surrounded by TV cameras from all the Dayton stations. “It’s great to be able to bring my kids in here and show them pictures of grandpa and what grandpa used to do,” Wes said. “My son was a month old when his grandfather passed away. My daughter (born just before last year’s blood drive) never got to meet him. So this is how they will learn about his legacy.”
Three-year old Carter and one-year old Reese spent the morning scampering around the Donor Café, sometimes sampling cupcakes on a table set up with refreshments and photos of Bob. Bob’s daughter Megan watched her nephew and niece while Wes and Bob’s ex-wife Lyn Cooper donated.
“Dad donated over 70 times,” said Megan. “We wanted to keep doing that, giving back to the community the way he gave of himself.” As Lyn told the reporters, “He was just a great guy.”
Support for the drive helped the Dayton CBC Donor Center meet 100 percent of collections goal for the day with 59 registrations, 54 whole blood donations and 20 apheresis donations of platelets and plasma.
Wes donated platelets at the drive, and so did Moraine Parks and Recreation Director Dave Miller. It was his 28th lifetime blood donation and the third in Bob’s honor. “When you think of Bob, he was such a vital asset to our community, active in everything and always willing to give back and volunteer at a lot of our community-wide special events,” said Miller. “That’s what blood donation is, also volunteering and giving back, so it’s a great way to remember Bob.”
Rosencrans had thrown himself into the work of helping Moraine recover from the loss of tax revenue and jobs after the closing of the General Motors Assembly Plant, Delco, and other businesses in the auto part supply chain. “Our budget went from $28 million to around $12 million,” said Miller, whose own department was forced to shut-down the “Splash Moraine” water park.
Before his death Rosencrans helped drum up funding for the Northlawn Avenue Bridge and pressured Motors Liquidation into cleaning up the abandoned GM site. His vision for the city has not faded with his death.
“As a staff we are all optimistic,” said Miller. “We’ll never see the revenues GM had, but we’re getting more and more, here and there, enough to have a solid base again. It’s just a matter of time.”
One casualty of the budget woes was the annual free hot dog cook-out on Beggars Night. “Bob was always there, cooking 2,000 hot dogs,” said Miller. “It was a tradition we had for 34 years.”
Last year, family and friends raised enough money to bring back the free hot dog night, now named, “The Moraine Community Halloween Party in Memory of Bob Rosencrans.” It’s planned again for the fall.
One part of Bob’s legacy at Moraine that Miller cannot completely recapture is the chance to “Bike with the Mayor.” After the election Miller asked Bob to consider making a 10-mile ride with community members as part of National Bike Week. “He trained for it, headed off and enjoyed it,” Miller said. “He planned to do it again the next year and I would see him out on the bike path riding more and more.”
Bob Rosencrans died before the next “Bike with the Mayor” ride could come around. He still had many miles to go, many more ways he wanted to serve his city. That role and the legacy of his blood donations have now been left to others. Thanks to his inspirational spirit, it’s a role that many are happy to fulfill.