• David Carlson

968: [John] was committed to helping those he worked with become independent in their communities

Day 968: Wednesday, November 9, 2022

[My Brother John] was committed to helping those he worked with become independent in their communities and he worked tirelessly to change people’s attitudes towards those with disabilities.


Today's reflection is a love-filled remembrance of John Romer, Mary FitzGerald's brother. John was a magnificent, bigger than life human, fully committed to his family, his beloved wife, and those with developmental disabilities. Thank you Mary for sharing his inspiring life with us.



John Romer

(April 4, 1956-October 18, 2022)


Without warning and far too soon, our beloved John Frank Romer died of a heart attack on October 18, 2022 while visiting New York City with his wife, Jinny. He lived his life to the fullest up to his very last minute and our hearts are broken at his passing.


A lifelong resident of Cincinnati, John was born to Charles and Justine Romer (nee Stegeman) in 1956, the third of seven children. He was married to his beloved Virginia (Jinny) Sander for twenty-nine years and was the devoted stepfather to her children, Brian (Janet) Donovan, Chris (Carolyn Shannon) Donovan, and Emily (Matt) Reardon. John treasured the role of being Papi to his six grandchildren: Ruby and Emmett Donovan, Claire and Scott Donovan, and Kara and Pete Reardon.


John was “raised up”, as he liked to say, in Mt. Lookout where he went to Cardinal Pacelli School. After graduating from St. Xavier High School, where he played football, he went on to Xavier University, graduating in 1978 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and in 1979 with a Masters in Education. Many of his lifelong friendships were with people he met during his school days.


John’s long and meaningful career of working with people with developmental disabilities (DD) began when as a teenager he volunteered in his mother’s special education classroom and at Camp Stepping Stones. During college and for a time afterwards he worked as a resident house manager at Stettinius House, one of the first group homes to be established in Cincinnati by the Resident Home for the Mentally Retarded, now known as Envision. Many of the residents became his friends and he often invited them to family gatherings where, in his words, they “just had good fun together”. He worked as Director of Community Relations, among other positions, for RHMR for the next twenty years. In 2005 he started at Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services where he founded the Advocacy Leadership Network. John regularly took the people he worked with to Columbus to speak at the state legislature which led to the enactment of new laws in support of disability rights.


In his last few years before retirement, he worked to address inequities in housing for the Developmentally Disabled population and was key in working with older parents who need to plan for their loved one with a developmental disability. His forty years in the field were recognized by HCDDS with the creation of the John Romer Advocacy Award which recognizes someone whose exceptional advocacy work on the behalf of others has made a significant impact on his or her community. If it is possible to sum up his career in a nutshell, it might be to say that he was committed to helping those he worked with become independent in their communities and that he worked tirelessly to change people’s attitudes towards those with disabilities. It is hard to underestimate the impact that John’s long career had on his many clients and their families.


While a college student, John worked as a DJ at WVXU. Always a ham and a showman, beginning with Romer sibling dance-a-thons to the Motown sounds of the Four Tops in the Alpine Terrace basement, being a DJ was the perfect fit for his larger than life personality. He had a good voice and loved to sing anywhere and everywhere, his signature song being “I Did It My Way”. As his niece once asked, “Uncle John, do you have a song for everything?” He did, and was especially known for his over the top renditions of “Happy Birthday”. He carried his love of the stage to performing in, writing, and directing the Christ the King annual variety show, Hits and Mrs., where he met his wife, Jinny. John and Jinny so enjoyed going to Broadway shows, sometimes in New York City, sometimes locally at the Taft Theater.


A man of many interests, John loved sports from an early age. Whether he was playing “semi-finals” or pickle in the front yard with his younger siblings, driving to Kenyon College many, many times to see his step-son and daughter play basketball, or traveling to the northeast to watch his grandchildren’s many games, he loved it all. As a teenager, he wallpapered his bedroom with covers from Sports Illustrated. He was a season ticket holder for local Bengals games in recent years, but his lifelong loyalty was to the Cincinnati Reds where he enjoyed many a game with Jinny, his brothers, and friends.


Jinny and John liked to travel, making frequent road trips to Columbus, Philadelphia, and Boston to see “the kids”. They took fun trips to Ireland, Germany and Cuba. Road trips to visit his cousin, Julie, in North Carolina and a yearly houseboating trip with friends on Lake Cumberland were getaways that John and Jinny really looked forward to. When traveling, they made a point to visit nieces and nephews in Canada, the Pacific Northwest, Chicago, New York, South Carolina, Florida and Santa Cruz. During his first year of retirement, they spent a winter month in northern California where three of his siblings live.


John Romer will be remembered for his devotion to family, his desire to make the world a better place through his advocacy for those with developmental disabilities, his tremendous sense of humor, and his thoughtful kindness to all. His many, many friends and close connections with family members are a testament to who he was, and he will be greatly missed. In addition to Jinny and their family he leaves behind six siblings, Mary (Ed FitzGerald), Chip (Sallie), Susan (Arthur Morelli), Chris (Deema), Andy, Bill (Yuriko), and one sister-in-law, Mary Beth Sander. He also leaves behind thirteen Romer nieces and nephews, twenty Sander nieces and nephews, and many grand nieces and nephews.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in John’s name to Our Daily Bread, www.ourdailybread.us.


Read more about this remarkable man in an article entitled "Making an Impact"

https://www.hamiltondds.org/making-an-impact/


Tomorrow:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Upcoming Events:

A Conversation with Diarmuid O'Murchu for Emmaus and Friends

Thursday, November 10, 2022

1:00 - 3:00 PM


In Person:

Knox Presbyterian &Thanksgiving Lutheran Churches

1650 W. Third St. Santa Rosa, CA 95401


Or Join us on Zoom:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5193158573

Passcode: 1234


Meeting ID: 519 315 8573

Passcode: 1234


One tap mobile +16699006833,,5193158573# US (San Jose)


Please bring your questions for Diarmuid


Public Celebration with Diarmuid O'Murchu

Sunday, November 13, 2022

We begin with a lecture by Diarmuid FROM 2:30 - 3:30

Followed by our liturgy at 3:45

Potluck after the liturgy

In Person:

Knox Presbyterian &Thanksgiving Lutheran Churches

1650 W. Third St. Santa Rosa, CA 95401


Or Join us on Zoom

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5193158573

Passcode: 1234


Meeting ID: 519 315 8573

Passcode: 1234


One tap mobile +16699006833,,5193158573# US (San Jose)

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