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Published: Monday, 2/13/2006

Noe's love of coins began in Bowling Green

BLADE STAFF

Long before he rose to prominence with the Republican Party and became the confidante of high-ranking politicians, Tom Noe was a small-town guy with an affinity for coins and making money.

Mr. Noe grew up in Bowling Green, his father a working-class, union member printer. His interest in coins started early, before he was 10.

By the time he was 12, he was dealing coins at shows.

His hobby would become a career, with the lure of the numismatic world drawing him out of the college classroom before he could graduate.

That career sent him and his young family across the eastern seaboard, working in New York City, Boston, South Carolina, and Florida before he returned to the Toledo area in 1981.

Once back, he dedicated himself to the coin business and to politics. He told a group of would-be entrepreneurs that charity and politics helped his business by putting him in touch with people who had money.

It helped him grow his client base; through it he met people like the late John Savage, whose son Kevin later worked with Mr. Noe in sports memorabilia.

He also became adept at raising money. First for local church organizations and later universities and politicians.

"That s one of the reasons why I ve always been pretty successful raising money because I actually take my client base and I m not afraid to go ask them for money," he said in 1993.

In time, he became chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, and became familiar with some of the state s most prominent Republicans, including Paul Mifsud, then-Gov. George Voinovich s chief of staff.

Politics became business, he said during sworn testimony in 1993; it helped him continue to find people willing to buy his rare coins.

The political connections also led to substantial appointments and the ability to influence decisions in Columbus.

Before he resigned, Mr. Noe was chairman of the U.S. Mint s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and chairman of the Ohio Turnpike Commission. He was also on the Ohio Board of Regents, which oversees the state s public colleges and universities.

But with questions swirling around the coin funds and accusations of theft, Mr. Noe stepped down from all of the boards. He had once been a member of the Bowling Green State University board of trustees.

Before he got his first $25 million from the state, Mr. Noe and his business partners built Vintage Coins & Collectibles in Monclova Township, just off I-475.

Then, in 1998, he convinced the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation to invest with his coin fund. Ultimately, he was given $50 million to invest.

Within a few years, Mr. Noe and his wife would go from owning one home to three, including a million-dollar vacation home on Catawba Island and a $2 million home in the Florida Keys.

The family has since sold the Catawba home and a Maumee condominium. They live in Florida.



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