Owner of Rusty's cafe, 'Queen of Toledo jazz' dies at Fla. care center


Margaret "Rusty" Monroe, 89, the centerpiece of Toledo's jazz scene for decades and whose club, Rusty's Jazz Cafe, became a landmark, died yesterday afternoon at a Punta Gorda, Fla., nursing care center.

She died from complications of a fall more than a week ago at her home in Punta Gorda. She'd been dealing with cancer for years, and her health worsened this year, said Suzanne Carroll, a longtime friend and host of the Jazz Brunch program on WRVF, 101.5-FM.

"She told me at the end [that] she lived a good life, and she did everything she wanted to do, and she had no regrets," said Ms. Carroll, who last spoke with Ms. Monroe about five days ago.

"The Queen of Toledo Jazz - that's how we all know her," Ms. Carroll said. "We love her so much, and she will leave a huge void in the cohesiveness of the jazz community."

Ms. Monroe would have been 90 on Nov. 22.

For most of 40 years, she offered Toledo live jazz every night, year-round.

She opened a jazz club in the Westgate area in 1963. She was best known for her club on Tedrow Road, which in 1997 was designated by the city "Jazz Avenue" in her honor.

She sold Rusty's Jazz Cafe in 2001, but remained active at the venue until it changed formats in 2003.

Surviving are her husband, Don Cordts, whom she married in 2006; two sons, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Services will be private in Marion, Ohio, Ms. Carroll said. A Toledo commemoration will be planned, she said.