Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Earl "Rusty" Hoaglin

Earl Hoaglin, self-made man and role model

CLEARWATER — Photos and knickknacks around his waterfront home hint at the robust lifestyle of Earl "Rusty" Hoaglin.

A decades-old letter from a Cuban official still looks fresh, inviting Mr. Hoaglin to participate in a fishing tournament.

There is a signed cartoon of the Bumsteads by Dean Young, an author of the cartoon strip Blondie.

A blond plastic doll with Barbie hair clings to a stripper's pole, which rotates to nightclub music at the touch of a button.

He emerged from a childhood filled with uncertainties to self-made success, and wanted younger people to do just as well. Mr. Hoaglin died March 11 due to complications from a respiratory illness. He was 73. His family blames a smoking habit he quit a decade ago.

"He was kind of Clearwater Beach's Ernest Hemingway," said Ed Droste, a co-founder of Hooters restaurants and the source of the music box. "His boat could sniff out a Hooters photo shoot in international waters. If there was one going on, he seemed to find it."

To his young descendants and all of their friends, he was a father figure who wanted to pass on some hard-won lessons.

A framed photo from 1947 shows a 10-year-old Rusty Hoaglin standing near a thoroughbred and rider at a racetrack. His father — a horse trainer, auctioneer and bookmaker who allegedly hung with Al Capone's older brother, Ralph — would "literally bet the farm on a race," Mr. Hoaglin's wife said.

Mr. Hoaglin dropped out of school in the ninth grade. He went on to serve with the Army National Guard and was stationed in Panama. He was 23 and working at a service station when he met Betsy, his boss' 14-year-old daughter.

The attraction blossomed some time later, when Mr. Hoaglin and Betsy, along with their respective romantic attachments, went mullet fishing.

"My boyfriend was too chicken to pick up the fish, and his girlfriend was too chicken to pick up the fish," said Betsy Hoaglin.

They married in 1965. For many years, the couple ran a mobile X-ray service to nursing homes. In the 1990s, Mr. Hoaglin opened Renegade Outfitters, a Harley-Davidson store with an upstairs cafe. In the meantime, he always found time to fish commercially for stone crabs.

Stories of generosity abound. He offered jobs to people who were broke. "He'd say, 'I can't pay you very much but I can pay you something, and at least you're working,' " his wife said.

He stressed accountability. "Paradise ain't cheap," he said.

Once, his daughter April, then 16, announced she wanted to drop out of school despite making good grades. No problem, Mr. Hoaglin said. He would drive her to school and sign the papers — if she would go for one more day.

But it was a trick.

When April emerged from her first class, there was her father in the hallway, ready to escort her to her to the next. He was there after that class, too.

She stayed in school and is now a child protection investigator for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

"Everything he did was a life lesson to make to make me a stronger person," she said.

.Biography

Earl Marques "Rusty" Hoaglin

Born: Sept. 5, 1937.

Died: March 11, 2011.

Survivors: wife Betsy; son Mark and his wife Cindy; daughter April; three grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

Earl Hoaglin, self-made man and role model 03/23/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 7:33am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)

    Military

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921
  2. Long day of diplomacy: Tillerson visits Afghanistan, Iraq

    Military

    BAGHDAD — Far from the Washington murmurs about his future, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to two of America's enduring war zones Monday, prodding leaders in Afghanistan and Iraq to reach out to longtime rivals.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, center, speaks Monday at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, accompanied by Gen. John Nicholson, left, and Special Charge d’Affaires Amb. Hugo Llorens.
  3. Head-on crash kills Wesley Chapel teacher and Zephyrhills man

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Two men, including a high school math teacher, were killed Monday in a head-on crash on Morris Bridge Road, deputies said.

    Shackelford
  4. Pinellas sees slight increase in black and first-year teachers

    Blogs

    A year after the Pinellas County school district was chastised in a state report for clustering inexperienced teachers in the state's most struggling schools, the district has reported a first look at its teacher corps.

    The Pinellas County school district has taken a first look at first-year teachers in struggling schools and minority hiring, both of which ticked slightly upward.
  5. Editorial: Trump owes apology to fallen soldier's Miami family

    Editorials

    There is no more sacred, solemn role for a president than to comfort grieving family members of soldiers who have given their lives in service of their country. Those calls cannot be easy, and some presidents are better at it than others. Yet President Donald Trump and his administration continue to engage in a …