The community reflects on Bob Rohrman's legacy

The Bob Rohrman Auto Group now consists of 32 dealerships in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Posted: Sep 2, 2020 6:24 PM
Updated: Sep 2, 2020 6:42 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Most people will never forget those iconic commercials promoting his business, but Bob Rohrman was much more than a businessman.

He was a giver.

For example, the Bob Rohrman Field at Ross-Ade Stadium. It was named after him when he gave $15 million to Purdue.

People News 18 spoke with said his giving spirit will live on.

"He was one of the funniest men I've ever known in my life," said State Sen. Ron Alting.

With that humor, came a big heart.

"He was larger than life here in Tippecanoe County and Lafayette in general," said Meals on Wheels Greater Lafayette Program Coordinator Wayne Howe.

Rohrman was born in Lafayette and graduated from Lafayette Jeff. He started selling cars in the late 1950s and opened his own used car lot in the 1960s. The Bob Rohrman Auto Group now consists of 32 dealerships in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

He used his success to make a difference.

"It was really, I think, his desire to affect a lot of kids. Which it really has over the years," said Former Jeff Band Director Tom Barker.

The Bob Rohrman Performing Arts Center at Lafayette Jeff is just one example. It was finished in 2009 thanks in part to a $3.5 million donation from Rohrman.

Former Jeff Band Director Tom Barker said it allowed the school to grow its music program more than he could have ever imagined.

"It opened up so many doors for our kids," Barker explained. "The growth of the department. Over 2,000 kids will enter this hallway during the full sequence of classes."

Rohrman has donated millions of dollars to various charities. That includes meals on wheels, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and multiple cancer charities.

State Senator Ron Alting presented Rohrman with the Sagamore of the Wabash in 2019. He's known Rohrman since childhood.

Alting said his giving heart will continue through his children.

"Bob Rohrman instilled in his children the importance of being a giver, not a taker, and being a part of the community that has given you so much," said Alting.

Alting said that giving attitude is something Rohrman lived by.

"Something we all need to learn from him is if God's blessed you with more than the average person, give some back to someone that doesn't have it," Alting added.

If there are any public vigils or memorials, we will post them on WLFI.com.

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