DeKALB – Tiffany Deshazer said in the years she’d known her husband, Rob, everyone was always saying he had the biggest heart.
The 41-year-old DeKalb native was ordained about three years ago and officiated about half a dozen weddings, including one for patrons of the business he co-owned, Tapa La Luna. The parents of the bride, charmed by Rob, asked him to marry their daughter and her fiance, neither of whom he’d ever met.
“That was Rob,” Tiffany said. “That was the effect he had on people, and everyone’s always saying he had such a big heart.”
Tragically, that was the case, leading to his fatal heart attack.
“He had a very, very enlarged heart,” Tiffany said.
After the couple fell asleep watching TV on Monday night, she awakened to Rob making noises in the wee hours of the next morning. She realized he was having a heart attack and performed CPR with coaching from a 911 dispatcher until first responders arrived.
Sadly, Rob couldn’t be saved, and he died between 4 and 5 a.m. Tuesday at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, Tiffany said.
When Rob met Tiffany
They were across the bar from each other at Lord Stanley’s Annex in May 2007, when Rob mistook Tiffany for someone he knew. She looked over her shoulder. He walked over, then realized his mistake.
“We ended up just chatting and chatting and chatting, and the room around us just kind of faded away,” Tiffany said.
Then, when Tiffany opened her Razr flip phone to check something, Rob kicked it up a notch.
“He said, ‘I see you have a phone, so you must have a number,’ ” she said.
He kept breaking all the rules of romance – or rewriting them, perhaps.
“He didn’t wait the man rule of two days,” she said. “I had a voicemail and two text messages.”
They became an official couple at the Fourth of July fireworks at Davis Park in Rockford, his head in her lap as he asked her where their relationship was going.
“He’d warned me that he gets mushy during fireworks,” Tiffany said.
“Then when he asked me, ‘What are we?’ I asked him, ‘Do you want to go steady?’ ”
The rest is a beautiful history. They got married Oct. 17, 2015, in Sycamore and cut their honeymoon short to get back in time for the Pumpkin Festival Parade.
“We went every year,” Tiffany said. “Maybe we could have missed it one year, I suppose.”
Three days before their third anniversary, Rob’s visitation will take place from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Quiram Sycamore Chapel, 1245 Somonauk St. in Sycamore. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. the next morning at the chapel.
‘Another opportunity to say farewell’
Twelve restaurants have teamed up to organize a community luncheon at Faranda’s, 302 Grove St., DeKalb, at 12:30 p.m. Monday, said O’Leary’s Ale House owner Mel Witmer, who gave Rob his first shot as a bartender in 2006.
The restaurants that will contribute food and staff to the event are Tapa La Luna, naturally, Faranda’s, Eduardo’s Restaurant, Fatty’s Pub & Grille, Lord Stanley’s, Pizza Pro’s, Remington’s Gastropub, Ski’s All American Pub, MVP Sports Bar, Flight Deck Bar & Grill, Hometown Sports Bar & Grill and O’Leary’s. Witmer said some of Rob’s favorite musicians will perform, as well.
“Rob was a unique person and very genuine, and as far as owners go, anyone that met him was fond of him,” Witmer said. “Rob knew every guest that was in and out of every restaurant – and every bar, for that matter.”
That made Rob unique, Witmer said, and the luncheon is reflective of his ability to bring people together.
“I’ve been in business here 15 years, and it’s always been contentious with restaurateurs, but this luncheon is sort of a nucleus kind of effort where everyone is working together to do something special for Rob and his family,” Witmer said. “This is another opportunity to say farewell.”
Witmer actually initially opened Tapa La Luna and considered closing it before selling it to Rob.
“Rob is why Tapa is still serving the community today,” he said.
Tiffany said in hindsight, Rob was stubborn about doctors, who might have caught the issue with his heart.
“So he hadn’t gone in a long time,” she said. “I think a lot of us are like that. There’s a fear of knowing, but you can’t fix something if you don’t know about it.”
In the meantime, the community is grateful that Rob put that big heart to great use for 41 years.
“He just loved people,” Tiffany said. “He loved everybody so hard, so much.”
• Daily Chronicle reporter Katie Finlon contributed to this report.