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Big Wheel Award

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Legend In His Own Time

This story was published circa 1973 yet the award was presented in 1960

Beautiful Man Bollinger Industry's Balance Wheel.

If Bob Bollinger of Portland, OR, stood before the panel of "What's My Line?", the experts would be dumb- founded.

Soft-spoken, compassionate, genteel and dignified, Bob would strike a stranger as being either a Senator or a minister.

He is neither. He's our first in the series of Living Legends in the roller skating world and a man whose achievements would literally fill a book.

Bollinger has been the balance wheel in our growth. With a few headlines and publicity, his counsel and wisdom has guided the industry through stormy weather and to its position of eminence.

Well-known to all of us in the business, the distinguished 64-year-old is the elder statesman of rink operators.

But don't let the title fool you - this Living Legend is indeed very much alive. Still working 16-hour days and traveling hither, thither and yon.

Bollinger still operates the Oaks Park rink in Portland, Ore. as well as directing his widespread amusement business in the United States and Canada.

In 1925 Bollinger’s father bought the operating company of the Oaks Amusement Park and, at the tender age of 16, Bob became the rink manager.

Since then, owners, rink and operator have provided indestructible. The rink itself is five years older than Bollinger.

Although Bollinger's amusement enterprise has grown by leaps and bounds, he confides he hasn't always been a business wizard:

He recalled his early days as rink manager.

"I went out and bought replacement parts for our Richardson skates costing $5.00 a pair. I thought I did okay until I learned about this thing call a discount rate. I could have bought new skates for $3.00."

If Bollinger grew craftier with passing years, he met his match in the pretty young girl who came to Oaks Park as a skater, remained as a check girl and cashier, then finally became the boss' wife.

Of course, Bob readily admits marrying Ruth was the best thing that ever happened to him.

But, his life has been filled with numerous successes.

In 1943, Bollinger looked around at the amusement park surrounding his rink and bought it (correcting note: the rink was built as part of the park which opened May 30, 1905). From that evolved his chain of rides in two countries (correcting note: he purchased his first ride in 1925).

But roller skating remains Bollinger's chief interest and his reputation in the business is unsurpassed. He served as president of the RSROA for two terms and currently is the association's financial advisor.

And he has entertained three generations of Portlander's with a simple formula. He merely provides his skaters with first-class operation, music, equipment, floor and surroundings.

With common sense, Bollinger believes the roller skating industry can grow and will continue to be in the forefront as the expansion takes place, lending his experience, guiding hand.

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These awards, Robert's personal roller skates, membership pins and RSROA sport jackets are on loan to the National Museum of Roller Skating

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updated 4.4.2013