SANDUSKY - Robert E. Gerber, a former All-American basketball player at the University of Toledo in the early 1940s, died Wednesday of heart failure at the Ohio Veterans Home here.
He was 85 and had lived in Toledo until six months ago.
Mr. Gerber is the only UT basketball player who was twice named an All-American by the Associated Press.
He captured the honors in 1941 and 1942 as the team center, going on to play for nearly a half dozen professional teams in the Midwest for leagues that predated the National Basketball Association, Frank Clemons, another UT basketball standout, said. “He was our biggest man,” Mr. Clemons said. “He was only 6-feet-5 or 6-feet-6. He had an outstanding hook. He could hit the basket without even looking at it.”
The teammates were part of a talented UT basketball program selected five times to be among the eight best teams in the country, including Ivy League and Big Ten conferences, to compete in tournaments at Madison Square Garden.
In 1942, Mr. Gerber scored 532 points, setting a national scoring record, which included all collegiate players on teams playing a major schedule.
Besides playing for pro teams after college, Mr. Gerber worked many years at George's Cigar & Gift Shop on Madison Avenue.
“He loved it there,” Sandy Gerber, his wife, said. “It was all sports. Everybody who came in talked sports and played pool.”
After the store closed, he became a production employee at the former Doehler Jarvis.
“He could have gone with the business end of the place, but he went the other way and belonged to the union instead,” Ed Wright, a friend, said. “He could have been at the top with all that brain power.
“He was a [heck] of a man. He was very generous.”
He was an Army veteran of World War II.
In his spare time, he enjoyed golf and bowling.
Surviving is his wife, Sandy.
Services will be at 10:30 a.m. today in the Fiffin Chapel at the Ohio Veterans Home. Arrangements are by the Toft Funeral Home & Crematory.
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