SIDNEY — The life of a Sidney High School graduate has taken seen many ups and downs and taken many curves as he has helped design roller coasters for the nation’s amusement parks.
Rob Decker, SHS class of 1978, is one of four alumni who will join the Sidney City Schools Hall of Honor. The hall will increase its membership to 119 with a 7:30 p.m. induction in the Sidney High School auditorium on Friday, April 15.
Decker has been successful in the amusement park industry, which obviously couldn’t happen by remaining in Shelby County. On April 15, Decker will be joined by a trio of Sidney alumni in receiving the highest honor bestowed by the Sidney City Schools including Marj Dunnavant (1954), Kathy Lindsey (1967) and Charles G. Rhyan (1961).
Here’s an interesting exercise. Google “Rob Decker roller coaster” on the Internet. You’ll get an amazing number of Decker-specific results, demonstrating his impact on both his specialty and industry. How did Decker get from Sidney to such an international sphere of influence in a familiar but unique field?
Following graduation from the University of Cincinnati, Decker worked as architect and urban designer.
“I had a good friend who said my kind of background would be good for theme and amusement park design,” he said in a recent interview. “At the time, I said it doesn’t sound like much of a career path. That was over 27 years ago. I worked as a consultant for 11 years at Universal Studios, Six Flags and a few other parks. I’ve now been at Cedar Fair for more than 16 years.”
Among his most famous roller coaster designs is GateKeeper at northern Ohio’s Cedar Point, one of 14 Cedar Fair amusement properties. Decker’s current title is vice president of planning and design.
Jeremy Schoolfield oversees “Funworld Magazine,” official publication of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. He views Decker as a major player in his industry on a worldwide basis.
“Rob Decker has established himself as one of the leading minds in the attractions industry. Under his guidance Cedar Fair has developed some of the world’s most renowned roller coasters (and other rides), drawing rave reviews from Canada to California, Sandusky to Charlotte,” he said in his contribution to Decker’s Hall of Honor nomination. “While roller coasters may be his signature, Decker excels at much more. In recent years he’s pushed the company into the digital age, creating immersive new experiences that take guests into stories and adventures never before seen at Cedar Fair parks.”
Schoolfield sees the Sidney native as a “thought leader and boundary pusher” who sets new industry trends with his many innovations. Consistent with the Hall of Honor’s Mission Statement, he describes Decker as “the perfect emissary for inspiring the next generation of dreamers and doers.”
With roots firmly planted in the Sandusky area, Decker has been active in his community including scholastic and athletic support activities at Perkins High School with service spanning beyond his children’s participation.
Decker and his wife, Michelle, are the parents of three adult children and reside not far from Cedar Point. He is the first member of the 1978 graduating class to join the Hall.
The induction ceremony will be followed by a reception. The events are open to the public.
The Hall of Honor is a mixture of alumni, retired employees, and supporters of the school district. Many of the alumni have excelled outside of the Sidney area while others stayed local to make a difference at home.