Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

New Port Richey retirees were big names in roller derby world

NEW PORT RICHEY

Lenny and Gloria Murro have the kinds of photos you'd expect to find at any proud grandparent's house. Their walls and tables are covered with pictures of their six children, 11 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. And beside them are pictures of the Murros in younger days, wearing roller skates and speeding past opponents on a sharply contoured derby track. "Gloria and I were big stars of the roller derby," Lenny, 81, said with a smile.

Indeed, when Lenny "Suicide" Murro met Gloria "The Body" Hager in 1949, the two were racing as part of the Brooklyn Red Devils, a nationally touring roller derby team that performed everywhere from Madison Square Garden to San Francisco's Cow Palace.

"I took one look at Gloria and told a friend of mine, 'I'm gonna marry that girl,' " said Lenny.

Lenny made good on that promise six months later, and for the next nine years the couple skated their way through the adventure of a lifetime.

"I was the craziest kid out there on the track," said Lenny.

"And we gals could hold our own against the guys," Gloria added.

The couple shared a love for skating that dated back to early youth. Lenny was a New Jersey street skater who went on to become a U.S. speed skating champion, listed in the World Almanac Book of Records. In 1951, he was named Rookie of the Year in the roller derby field at the old Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"Some of the cops who busted me for street skating later paid to see me skate in shows," he said.

Gloria, for her part, never got in trouble for skating — but the Chicago native was at one point leery of the possibility.

"I was discovered at a roller rink when I was 18," she said. "I was skating with some friends when the manager called us over.

"I was afraid he was going to throw us out. Instead he asked us if we wanted to join the roller derby."

Soon the Murros were skating their way across the country, participating in shows and championships, posing for promotional photos (Gloria's tasteful pinup shot adorned the cover of many an event program), meeting celebrities that included Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, being interviewed for the pages of major New York newspapers, and making promo appearances that included surprise visits to patients at children's hospitals.

"I guess we were considered celebrities," said Lenny, "but we were just kids having fun."

By the time the couple left the roller derby circuit in 1959, they had three children. They settled in New Jersey, turning down an offer to skate in Europe to make a new home for their growing family.

Lenny Murro became a commercial painter and a mixologist at the Ciba-Geigy pharmaceutical company in Summit, N.J.; Gloria Murro became a homemaker and exercise instructor. And in 1981, during a visit to one of their daughters in California, she was a contestant on The Price is Right game show.

They retired in 1987 and moved to Florida, where a couple of their children live. Yet, as always they are not content to rest on their laurels.

Gloria, now 82, is an avid student at Suzanne Carlson's Jazzercise class at the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center.

"Jazzercise helps me stay fit," she said. "I can do pushups now!"

She is also vice president of the Suncoast Women's Bowling Association and is a member of two other bowling leagues.

Lenny bicycles on a regular basis, sometimes riding all the way to Spring Hill. He enjoys golfing and is a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 5869 of Port Richey.

They are members of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church and love to travel.

And the two have been known to dust off their roller skates for a good cause.

"We recently met with a group of kids that's trying to start a roller derby team here locally," Lenny said. Then, with an affectionate nod toward Gloria, he added: "My wife put on her skates and showed 'em how it's done."

   
Comments
Rays morning after: Cobb still searching

Rays morning after: Cobb still searching

The 12 years he spent in the Rays organization, and the seven seasons he was around the big-league team, mean the world to Alex Cobb.But Wednesday he wasn't in the mood for memories.After a third straight outing for his new Orioles team ended badly, ...
Updated: 2 minutes ago
Florida has one of the highest rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes, study finds

Florida has one of the highest rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes, study finds

Florida is among the top three states with the highest per capita rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes, a new study published on Thursday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found.From 2006 to 2016, the organization examined hit-and-run crashes in...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
After Bucs’ second-round pick, they face a historically bad situation

After Bucs’ second-round pick, they face a historically bad situation

Say Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson are gone by the time the Bucs are up to make the seventh overall pick tonight at the NFL draft.What should they do? Take a defensive back? Trade down and acquire more picks?Here's some ammunition f...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Focus crossover and Mustang will be only Ford sedans sold in North American dealerships

Focus crossover and Mustang will be only Ford sedans sold in North American dealerships

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it will shed most of its North American car lineup as part of broad plan to save money and make the company more competitive in a fast-changing marketplace.The changes include getting rid of all cars in...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

TAMPA — As the Tampa Bay Lightning wait for the Boston Bruins to come to town for the next round of playoffs, the city’s business community — large and small — say they’ve already won this NHL postseason.At WestShore Plaza this week, with blue and wh...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rescuing the rescuers from the trauma of seeing buddies crash to their deaths

Rescuing the rescuers from the trauma of seeing buddies crash to their deaths

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE — In his mind, Lee Von Hack-Prestinary kept circling the crash site.His friends were in the wreckage below, and he couldn’t help.The memory brought him to tears.Seated across from him, at Patrick Air Force Base near Cocoa Beach...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Arrest made in stolen St. Petersburg car with baby inside

Arrest made in stolen St. Petersburg car with baby inside

ST PETERSBURG — A man accused of stealing a car with a baby inside earlier this week was arrested early Thursday morning when police spotted him in another stolen car. Rashad Webb, 19, no known address, was arrested around 2 a.m. after officers spott...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 8-4 win over Orioles

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 8-4 win over Orioles

Marc Topkin's takeaways from the Rays 8-4 win over the Orioles on Wednesday:* RHP Alex Cobb is going to be Alex Cobb again. But it seemed clear from watching him against his old Rays mates he's not quite ready yet, the result of signing in late March...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump says Cohen represented him in

Trump says Cohen represented him in "Stormy Daniels deal"

President Donald Trump acknowledged Thursday for the first time that his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen represented him in efforts to silence Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who has alleged a sexual encounter with Trump more than a de...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Three things to know about new Land O’Lakes football coach Chad Walker

Three things to know about new Land O’Lakes football coach Chad Walker

Chad Walker, 34, is the new football coach at Land O'Lakes, inheriting a team that went 4-5 under Brian Wachtel in 2017. Walker played college football at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., from 2002-05. He didn't move to Florida until Jan. 1, 20...
Updated: 2 hours ago