Roosevelt Gant Inducted 2011 - Class of 1972
Bordered by Stickney and Central Avenues, Roosevelt's Bronson Avenue neighborhood was noted for its parental involvement and close-knit neighbors who watched over and protected their children's lives. Nicknamed Rosie by family and friends, he attended elementary school at Hamilton and Riverside. Friendships he formed with Glen Fletcher, Nelson Overton, Pete Alsup, Mike Bell, Marion Howard, and Lon Walls at Woodward are still valued and nurtured today.
The distance from elementary to school Woodward was less than a mile, but a huge expanse in manner and responsibilities. Roosevelt’s four years at Woodward were filled with demanding teachers and coaches. Woodward offered many opportunities and Roosevelt was constantly challenged to improve himself. Initially shy and reserved as a freshman, he was encouraged to express himself by Mrs. Wertz who believed that Roosevelt would accomplish great things. Mrs. Pfefferle made history, which became his favorite subject, interesting and relevant and, from Ms. Markopoulos, he learned perseverance in all things.
Because of past injuries, Roosevelt's mother was not fond of football. It wasn't until Senior Day, when the senior members of the team were recognized with their parents, that his mother watched her son play football. After that game, she never missed a college home game and became her son's biggest fan. Ability and determination enabled him to earn All-City honors and become one of only two students in Woodward's recounting to play on a championship basketball and football team in the same year. In 1971, Woodward High School was the District’s Basketball and Blue Division Football Champion.
Roosevelt reserves much of the credit for his success in life to his football coach, Sylvester "Sonny" Smith. Coach Smith pushed him to excel both on the field and in life, and more importantly, always stood by him. Roosevelt also acknowledges Coach Smith's contribution in obtaining a four-year scholarship to The University of Toledo.
Roosevelt took the skills he learned while excelling at football at WHS and UT, along with hard work, to become a successful Toledo Businessman and contributor in the community. He honed his skills while working for the City of Toledo, the State of Ohio, and as executive director of the Uptown Association. In 1995, Roosevelt was elected a delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business and, one year later, served as Chairman of the Chartering Committee for the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union. As president of R. Gant, LLC, his general contracting and construction management firm has been involved in the construction of the Jeep Plant, Mud Hen's Fifth Third Field, YMCA, Toledo Metroparks, the Toledo Zoo, and Toledo Public Schools, including the new Woodward High School. Roosevelt co-founded the faith-based Covenant Community Development Corporation, and served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, among numerous other affiliations.
Roosevelt enjoys spending time with his wife, Gail Finley Gant and stepson Derek. He also likes traveling, music, and sports.