He "loved him like a brother," so Bob Ernst wants to make sure Joe Nuxhall's
legacy is never forgotten.
For 25 years, longtime friend Ernst has been the major sponsor of the Joe Nuxhall Memorial Golf Outing, and has made it a legacy of his estate “so it will go on and on and on,” he says.
“What was paramount to Joe was giving back to the community, and that was paramount on my mind too,” says Ernst, 73, former president of Hamilton’s Dollar Federal Savings Bank and retired regional president for Fifth Third Bank in Butler, Warren and Preble counties.
“We both had the goal of ‘never forgetting where we came from, with humble beginnings,’ “ Ernst says. Bob and Nelda Ernst met Joe and Donzetta Nuxhall shortly after coming to Hamilton in 1971. “I did some business with Joe and became fast friends. We played golf, racquetball and socialized together, and became closer each and every year.”
They didn’t just play racquetball. They won the Hamilton City tournament at the Central YMCA in 1972, ’73 and ’74 – and beat some big league baseball players along the way.
“Joe would invite a number of players up to the Y for a friendly game, and we’d have a ball waxing the floor with the Major League players,” Ernst recalls.
The Ernsts attended Reds spring training regularly in Florida, and dined after games with Joe and Donzetta. Frequently they were Joe’s guests at Riverfront Stadium games. When Nuxhall was honored for 60 years with the Reds, the Ernsts were with the entire Nuxhall family in a Great American Ball Park private box. “We were not family, but we were treated as if we were,” he says.
Their shared philosophy made it easy for Ernst to support the Joe Nuxhall Scholarship program, established in 1985, which awards $1,000 scholarships to 28 graduating seniors – two at every Butler County high school – each year. In 31 years, over $600,000 in scholarships have been handed out in Nuxhall’s name. Bob and Nelda Ernst have donated $165,000 to date, funding 160 scholarships.
“We felt with Joe’s name recognition and my support that we could really make a difference for kids in our Butler County home base. Joe always hated it that he didn’t go to college. He wanted to touch people’s lives, and so he helped them go to college. And then they could pay it back, or pay it forward,” Ernst says.
“This was Joe’s baby. He wanted this to succeed, and it did. After Joe’s passing (in 2007), it was my goal to work with Kim and Bonnie (Nuxhall) to make sure this endeavor continued. I'm 73 years old, and hope that I have a few years left. But I can assure you my family has made sure our support will continue and the Nuxhall Scholarship fund will continue.”