Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rob Stober, Tavernier

I’ve lived in the Keys 13 years. I was in Miami for ten years before that; I graduated from the University of Miami. My fiancé’ decided she wanted to get her MBA, and we moved to Gainesville for a year so she could go to school. When she graduated, we could have moved anywhere. But, after living in a small town, practicing law outside of the Miami/ Ft. Lauderdale/Palm Beach area, I didn’t want to go back to a big city…we wanted the clear water, we wanted an island life style, we wanted the small community, and so this ended up being the perfect mix of everything for us. When I was looking at job offers, I found one that said, “Coastal town. You won’t get rich but you won’t go broke, especially if you can cast a net.” My wife asked where it was and I told her Apalachicola and she said she wasn’t moving to Apalachicola. So, I kept looking and the next offer was for a position at Hershoff, Lupino & Yagel in Tavernier. And the rest is history!

Before that, I was a yacht captain; full time for 4 years, traveling all around, mostly up and down the east coast. We spent about 10 weeks in Palm Beach in the winter, sometimes in Ft. Lauderdale and sometimes in Key West. It was a private yacht; 80 feet, 80 ton, one engine, 80 years old. It was a great experience. It was good for a young person, something you can’t do when you’re 80 years old! I got to meet a lot of interesting people and travel around to a lot of really interesting places. I’ve been to most of the islands in the Caribbean; I did Antigua to the Panama Canal one time. I’ve sailed to Bermuda. I was fortunate enough to be invited to sail across the Atlantic once. I raced across the Atlantic Ocean in 2002 in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, on a 58 feet catamaran, for 14 days, 9 hours, and 35 minutes, with 7 people aboard. We came in 11th out of 275 boats!

The first thing my wife and I did when we moved to the Keys was plan our wedding. We now have two girls, five and eight years old. We came here to slow down a little bit, work a little bit less, fish and boat a little bit more. Of course the opposite has ended up happening. We got involved with the community; Chamber of Commerce, Take Stock in Children, Justice Teaching, Rotary Club, Good Health Clinic, Children’s Shelter, and a dozen other things I can’t think of right off the top of my head. And we love it. We have a great community and it’s easy to get involved. One of the things my wife and I discussed when we moved down is that we can make a difference here. It’s important to get involved in something you enjoy. Pick something you love and do it. If you don’t love the volunteer work you are doing, you should find something else. There is plenty to do, just get involved.

One of the things I enjoy is working with Take Stock in Children. It takes low income high school students, whose parents typically haven’t been to college, and helps prepare and send them to college. If you haven’t been to college, how do you prepare your kid to go? There is an income threshold, and they have to maintain at least a C, stay out of trouble, and meet with a mentor once a week at school. You can volunteer to be their mentor; you just have to meet with them and mentor them about going to college, talk to them about different life experiences, and be an example. They get their college tuition paid for; a prepaid Florida college education. It’s a great program, and they have plenty of money to help send kids to school. The biggest drawback is there aren’t enough mentors. It’s been a great experience for me. I’m on my second student. The first one graduated high school and has entered college. It’s not going to be easy for him, but I try to stay in touch and encourage him.

I am proud of my family; my wife and 2 daughters. None of this would be worthwhile without the family. We all stay really busy, my girls as well. The oldest is at PKS, and the youngest will be there next year. They dance, cheer, swim, and take piano... We’re busy but we find time to spend together. At least one day a week I try to take them to dance, swim or piano lessons. We have family dinner together as often as we can, and love having our friends and neighbors over for BBQs and to swim in the pool; I love to cook when I have the opportunity. I take care of getting the girls ready for school in the morning. We make it work. I think it’s better than us all sitting around watching TV. They like arts and crafts; there is always glitter, paper and glue all over the house. Or they are outside playing. One of my neighbors pulled up in front of my house one day and said “Man look at your house.” There were bicycles and scooters all over the yard and drive way…each kid has 2 bikes and 2 scooters, and we have other kids’ bicycles in our yard, plus half a dozen helmets. They ride around the neighborhood with their friends like it’s the 1950’s. I said, “It’s impossible to keep it all straight and neat.” Then he said, “No, this is how it’s supposed to be!” I agree. It’s good to be busy, but you have to balance. Since I’ve started campaigning, I’ve learned to cut out everything that is non-essential. My family is essential, my girls are essential. I was a great yacht captain, but I left that life because of a lack of family connections.

I am proud of my work here; there is satisfaction in resolving problems for my clients, and as an attorney the client’s needs come first. I’m happiest when contributing to the community, so my hope is to be on the bench for the next phase of my life. It’s a natural mix with the practice of law, which I really love. I think that John Irving said it best, “If you’re going to stick around, make yourself useful.” I’ve always tried to do what needed to be done, and I think being judge is an honorable job. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I say again, find something that you love and pour your heart into it. It works well with your job, it works well with volunteering and charity, it works well with your personal life. Just find something you love and follow it.

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