BOATERS OF INTEREST
RUSTY DURHAM PHOTOS
Always quick with a smile and a laugh, Ronnie Rohm has spent much of his life fishing, boating and living on the Indian River Lagoon.
BY PATTIE DURHAM
As a youngster living on a chicken farm in Pennsylvania,
Ronnie Rohm chopped down a hemlock tree to fashion
a wooden raft a la Davy Crockett so he could float on
the stream that ran through the farm. After moving to Florida
in the 1950s, he spent all of his spare hours in or on the Indian
“I guess I always was just a water bug,” he says.
In the late 1940s, the Rohm family ran a turkey farm in
south central Pennsylvania, but the turkeys drowned during
a wet spring. When Rohm was about a year old, his father
started an egg farm. For vacations, the family would pile into
the car and head for Fort Pierce, towing a small boat named
the PatRonJon, for the Rohm children.
They would stay at the Fort Pierce Cottages, near St. Lucie
Village. Life was good, until the bottom fell out of the egg
market and the family’s finances faltered. In the late ’50s,
Rohm’s father, who had been building a house in the village,
moved the family south.
“I learned as a child that faith, family and friends are
what’s important in life,” Rohm says of that time in his life.
Rohm also says he had the most idyllic of childhoods.
Sitting under a shade tree along the water, he reminisces
about his life in St. Lucie Village, the small enclave north of
downtown Fort Pierce. From the start, Rohm’s life has been
intertwined with the water.
Attending St. Lucie School in the village, Rohm became
friends with Sammy Wolkowsky. It wasn’t long before the
boys discovered that Sammy’s father, Dr. Melvin Wolkowsky,
had an account at East Coast Lumber & Supply. Sammy then
charged the wood for a small cabin they wanted to build on a
spoil island in the lagoon. Rohm’s father bought metal for the
roof and wood for bunkbeds so the boys could finish it.
“We were just always in the river,” Rohm says. “After
high school, I worked at Seeley’s boatyard with Sport Jacobs,
scraping and painting boat bottoms. Tommy Padrick had a
little trout boat and I had a motor, so we shared and went out
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