[JPL] more on Rusty
mzaborney at wcnet.org
Mon Oct 13 19:22:04 EDT 2008
A more complete article from today's Toledo Blade. It's been a tough
year of tough losses on the Toledo jazz scene. First this spring, it was
trumpeter Jimmy Cook, who could have held his own with anyone, anywhere,
but chose to stay in his adopted hometown. In August, it was saxophonist
Dave Melle, a former director of the Toledo Jazz Orchestra and a
longtime prof of performance studies at Bowling Green State University
(his students included Tim Hagans, Rich Perry, and Tom Warrington). Last
month, it was local singer Mary Ann Russo. And now, the ever-regal Ms.
Bowling Green, Ohio
MARGARET 'RUSTY' MONROE, 1918-2008
Jazz cafe's owner a heroine to many
Margaret "Rusty" Monroe, 89, who was known by many as the "Queen of
Toledo Jazz," died Saturday in a nursing center in Punta Gorda, Fla.
Ms. Monroe owned and operated Rusty's Jazz Caf in Toledo for more than
40 years before selling the club and moving to Florida in 2003. She died
from complications of a fall in her home more than a week ago.
Her contributions to the cultural art form of jazz were overshadowed
only by her humanity.
"She's like anybody else who ever gave her heart to this culture, she
was huge in her spirit and love for fellow man," said Jon Hendricks, an
internationally renowned jazz singer and professor of jazz at the
University of Toledo. "She is a heroine of the art form."
From the time she opened her first club in the Westgate area in 1963,
Ms. Monroe was known for treating everyone equally. "She courted people
to the club like Bob Hope to people who had no hope off the street,"
said Suzanne Carroll, a longtime friend and host of the "Jazz Brunch"
program on WRVF, 101.5-FM. "She really reached out to all levels of
Ms. Monroe was best known for her club on Tedrow Road, which in 1997 was
designated by the city as "Jazz Avenue" in her honor.
Ms. Monroe was 10 when her mother died and 14 when her father died. Ms.
Monroe went to school in a one-room schoolhouse and grew up listening to
the phonograph. Her father, who loved Viennese waltzes, played violin.
Ms. Monroe married when she was young and the couple had three children,
but the marriage fell apart. She worked at a dress shop, then found a
job as a waitress in Marion, Ohio, and within a few years, she won a
contest as the best waitress in Ohio while she working at the historic
Harding Inn in Marion.
"I like challenges in life," she said during an interview with The Blade
in 1998, just after she celebrated her 80th birthday.
During World War II, she worked in a munitions factory in Marion, and
after the war, she sought challenges that were to be found in much
larger cities. She worked in tourist regions, including California,
Florida, and the Catskills in New York, but returned to Ohio to raise
During her life, Ms. Monroe often rubbed elbows with stars including
Hope, Jack Benny, and Big Band leader Harry James.
She had brushes with Frank Sinatra when she was a waitress at Miami's
famed Fontainebleau Hotel where Sinatra stayed while filming A Hole in
the Head. The hotel had a cameo role in the film.
Equipped with years of on-the-job training, and with her steely
determination and boundless energy, she moved to Toledo and opened her
first nightclub in 1963 on Secor Road near the Westgate Shopping Center.
She moved the club to Tedrow Road in 1979 and the local landmark, packed
tight with small, cloth-covered tables, featured jazz seven nights a
week. Big-name artists, such as Maynard Ferguson, Mr. Hendricks, Johnny
Griffin, and Red Rodney, played there, as did youngsters who got their
start there, like Ron Oswanski, Larry Fuller, and Jacob Sacks.
She garnered honors, including being the first inductee into the Lake
Erie West Hall of Fame for the Performing Arts.
Ms. Monroe, who often had students from surrounding universities in her
club to interact with the performers, started the Toledo jazz archives,
housed at Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
Surviving are her husband, Don Cordts, whom she married in 2006; sons,
Larry and Gene Monroe; four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Services will be private in Marion. Additionally, Ms. Carroll will host
a tribute radio show in Ms. Monroe's honor from 8 a.m. until noon Sunday.
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