Updated: Mar 27, 2019
Where are you from?
My parents escaped from Hungary in 1970, and I was born in a refugee camp in Baden, Austria in 1971. About a year and a half later, we arrived in the US (Fairfield, CT) with only $500 and eventually lived in a three room house located behind a church for the first six years of my life. My parents cleaned the church and took care of the grounds in exchange for living there. My dad worked as a laborer for a construction company and my mom walked three miles to work each day to make $2.00 an hour.
What was your upbringing like?
My parents worked hard for everything we had. My dad was big on respect, discipline, instilled a hard work ethic into us, and we all spoke Hungarian around the house. We used coupons at every trip to the store and we didn’t buy things unless they were on sale. We rarely ate out in restaurants because my mom cooked at home.
Where do you currently reside?
I live in Summerville, SC and it’s about 15 miles north of Charleston.
How long have you been in the Carolinas? Why did you move here?
I was stationed in Goose Creek, SC in 1990, right after navy boot camp. I served in Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield and completed a four year tour in the navy.
Mother, dad (deceased), sister who is a detective in Norwalk, CT, and two sons. I had a German Shepard for 12 years but he passed away.
What is your education or training background?
I graduated from Fairfield High School in Fairfield, CT in 1989.
I served as a driving instructor for the SCHP for over 10 years.
What is your occupation?
I am currently the Commander of the Patrol’s Office of Community Relations and the spokesperson for the agency.
What is unique about your occupation?
Every day is a different day! Some days I do safety talks for businesses or schools and other days I am on the scene of a major collision and speaking to the media live. I also get to connect with the community via Twitter. My Twitter name is TrooperBob_SCHP and have over 7,000 followers.
How did you get into your line of work?
Honestly, it was a calling. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a policeman, but felt that God put his hand on my head and he wanted me to help people until my last breath.
After my four year enlistment in the U.S. Navy, I decided that I wanted a job helping people and I applied to law enforcement agencies all over Charleston. The SC Highway Patrol was the only one willing to hire me on as a law enforcement officer. The trooper academy was 16 weeks long back in 1994- I remember showing up with a pair of running shoes and a pillow.
What challenges you in your life?
I try to be a good dad for my boys, take care of my mom, do my best at work, make sure to exercise six days a week, take care of the house, etc. It’s just making time to balance everything out.
Any advice for those wanting to go into law enforcement?
You have to want to help people to do this job. To me, it’s more of a calling than a job.
Any interesting patrol stories you would like to share?
I was able to help an elderly neighbor whose house burnt down over two decades ago. I worked at Lowes for a few years to save up money for a boat. I paid cash for the boat and used it to take my son fishing. When I used to patrol, I would see this elderly lady fishing from a bridge and recognized her as living at the end of my street. When I would come home from fishing, I would beep the horn and the lady would come out with a pan and take the fish that I caught from the ocean. One day while driving by, I saw that her little house had burnt down and I swore that I would help her. I immediately sold my boat, gave her the cash for it, was able to get the community to help out, get her a trailer donated for free, get her appliances donated, clothes donated, and plumbing/electrical work donated, etc. Eventually, she was back on her feet and she hugged me every time I saw her out in town.
I also used to see a gentlemen walking about eight miles home from work as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. He also lived on my street and I would give him a ride home when I would see him walking along the roadway. He lost his license a while back, but was trying hard to make things right and start driving. After a few weeks, he was able to get his license straightened out and I wanted to surprise him with a special gift. I purchased a used truck, paid cash for it, got it titled in his name, paid the taxes on it, and filled it with gas. I drove it over and gave him the keys to it and he couldn’t believe it. To me that’s what life is about- helping others.
What would you like the community to be more aware of?
Driving under the influence and not wearing seatbelts are killing hundreds of people in SC each and every year. In over 22 years, I have never unbuckled a dead person. Don’t be ejected from life…buckle up!
What are your hobbies?
I like to cook, spend time with family and close friends, workout, keep my house and car clean, etc. I used to own a limousine company for seven years that I started on my own, but sold it a few years ago when I was promoted to sergeant.
What are you passionate about?
Helping those in need. I am the Special Olympics liaison for the SCHP and love raising money for Special Olympics.
What drives you crazy?
When pumping gas or listening to the TV, the price numbers or the volume has to be on a even number. Also, people parking in handicap spots that aren’t handicapped and children who aren’t buckled up properly are top on my list. Finally, people who won't remove their hats during the National Anthem.
Who inspires you?
There are people I have met in my life who inspire me, as well as some people who I have read about who do. I love reading biographies. I’m good friends with singer songwriter Michael Bolton and have known him for years. I read his biography in two days and he has been an inspiration to me.
What do you love about the Carolinas?
The friendly people, the nice weather, and the good seafood!
Where do you vacation?
I love to visit Bryson City, NC and rent a cabin in the Smokey Mountains. I make it an annual trip with my close friends and family. We go hiking, rafting and enjoy cooking outdoors and enjoying nature.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
1st: Being a dad to two wonderful boys.
2nd: Being Selected as the 2007 Trooper of the Year for the SCHP.
3rd: Receiving a “Top Cop” award with several other law enforcement officers from around the US in Washington, DC a few years ago. John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted, gave me my award.
What struggles have you faced in your life?
Being picked on as a kid. My mom used to buy our clothes from a used consignment shop called, “Once is not enough.” I wore used clothes and they didn’t always fit perfectly. I would cry and beg my mom not to make me go to school. One time, it was a classmate’s birthday and she brought in cupcakes. She put one on every kids desk but bypassed mine. Kids used to tease me a lot, but that all stopped when I started working out in the 8th grade. I always say that the way you treat people in life will carry you further then money or education ever will.
What events in your life or family's life have impacted you?
I am a very humble person. When I went to visit my grandmother in Hungary in 1985, I slept on a potato sack on a dirt floor and walked two miles for water. My grandmother never had indoor plumbing or electricity her entire life. She was a happy and very caring person. She made me realize that the things that made you happy weren’t material things.
Where do you see yourself retiring?
I see myself living around Charleston, SC.
Favorite spot in the Carolinas to visit?
Bryson City, NC or downtown Charleston.
What outdoor activities do you participate in and where?
I like to run 5K races around the Carolinas and the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K in Charleston. I like the Smokey Mountains of NC, where you can find me there a few times a year. I have always wanted to go to an apple festival in NC.
Favorite TV series?
Knight Rider, CHIPS and Gilligan’s Island.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I speak fluent Hungarian and love watching Food Network’s “Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives”- I wish I could meet Guy Fieri! Also, I have never used a dishwasher. I say my prayer in Hungarian before every meal and give thanks before bed and as soon as my eyes open in the morning.
If money wasn't an issue, what would you do with your time each day?
I would spend my day doing random acts of kindness. I would help people every day without them knowing it was me.