This Article originally appeared in the Observer Newspaper
Redford Union honors ‘Number One Fan’ Jimmy Rollin
Redford Union’s “Number One Fan” Jimmy Rollin seemingly never missed any game, meet or match involving his beloved Panthers over the years.
Now that he’s gone, having died from cancer July 23 at age 60, the school and community he loved so much is making sure he will always be around.
A year-long tribute to Rollin begins Friday night during the Panthers home opener against Livonia Clarenceville at Hilbert Middle School. The initials J and R are stenciled just outside the playing field and the RU “Blue and Gold” athletic boosters club also plan on unveiling a sign at the stadium.
“What we’re going to do at each home opener for each varsity event, we’re having a moment of silence for him,” RU athletic director and football coach Miles Tomasaitis said. “His mom (Eleanor Rollin) also turns 100 on Sunday (Sept. 17), so the family are coming to the game also to kick off the home season.
“Obviously, Jimmy will be missing his first game in a lot of years. They’re coming in to try to fill in for him, and say thank you (to) the community for the support they’ve got.”
Jimmy would have loved how Friday’s game turned out, too. The Panthers blanked Clarenceville by a 33-0 score.
Night of celebration
Friday night’s football game is giving the Redford Union community an opportunity to begin giving back to the man simply known as “Jimmy” all over the district. He graduated in 1977 from the high school.
“We’ve got Jimmy’s initials stenciled just outside the playing field,” Tomasaitis said. “Blue and Gold (Club) is planning some other things, I’m not sure.
“We have VIP seating for them (family) on the track inside the gates. We’re going to play Happy Birthday to Jimmy’s mom at the first change of possession. The band’s going to play it and we’re going to his mom for her 100th birthday.”
Even as Rollin neared the end, he had Redford Union and the “Blue and Gold Club” on his mind.
“Everything he had, his car and everything else is being donated to the Blue and Gold and to the athletic department,” Tomasaitis said.
The family also is asking that donations continue to be donated to the Blue and Gold Club and athletic department.
“Jimmy was at everything, you’d look up and he was there,” Tomasaitis continued. “The other athletic directors around the conference knew who Jimmy was because he showed up at everything.
“He was at tennis matches, he was at swim meets, football games, basketball games, volleyball, baseball, softball, track. He showed up at everything. Coaches would drive him to games sometimes, or he’d ride the bus if an event was farther away.”
Honoring Jimmy and keeping his memory and love of RU athletics alive is going to be a priority all year.
“You don’t see that dedication from alumni over time, that’s for sure,” Tomasaitis stressed. “It is (nice to honor him), we’re going to miss him. It was a shock to the whole community when he passed away.
“You need to take time out for people that are special to the school like that.”