Liverpool Bob Rotella was a real man-about-town.
For more than 20 years I’d worked with Bob at WCNY-TV on Old Liverpool Road where I was a cameraman and he was engineer. Whenever something went wrong with my camera, Bob or one of his colleagues from Master Control would rush into the studio to fix it.
Back in the 1970s, I’d run into Bob after work at Erie Boulevard East nightspots like Soo-Lin or Casa di Lisa where he enjoyed listening to jazz and rhythm & blues. Years later he became a fixture at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que which was co-founded in 1988 by his son, Mike Rotella.
More recently, he’d sip a scotch and water at Liverpool bistros such as The Retreat and the Limp Lizard Lounge, but he still started his days with morning coffee at the Dinosaur.
Bob died last Wednesday after apparently suffering a heart attack while driving his car in the village. He was returning to Liverpool after his breakfast ritual down city. He was 77 years old.
‘Don’t Be Blue’
Born in Manhattan, Bob was raised in Fulton and lived most of his life here in the village and worked for many years out on Old Liverpool Road at Channel 24.
His co-workers at WCNY have fond memories of Bob, who was world-wise, street-savvy and refreshingly outspoken. Having served in the Air Force and Air National Guard and as a longtime boater, Bob knew his way around the sky and the sea as well as the streets.
“Bob was a great guy to work with,” remembered former WCNY-TV production manager Dick “Cato” Calagiovanni, who used to live in Liverpool. “Bob Rotella was always a lot of fun.”
Yes, Bob had a brilliant smile, a big heart and a spectacular head of golden-white hair.
At a celebration of his life on Friday evening, Feb. 15, upstairs at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Bob’s old pals, singer/keyboardist Ronnie Leigh and guitarist par excellence Marcus Curry, played some tasty R&B including the Michael Franks’ song, “Don’t Be Blue.”