Robert Tuschak, beloved husband and father, passed from this earth on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 in his home with his wife and daughter by his side. He passed peacefully, if too soon.
Bob had completed successful treatment for metastatic melanoma, but complications overtook him. He is both mourned and celebrated by those who knew him. As the founder of The Local Card and Go Local Austin, he was a completely devoted and enthusiastic supporter of the local cause and its importance culturally and economically for cities, and no city was better suited for such a program than Austin, TX.
Bob brought his considerable energy, experience and creative understanding of business to Austin, where with the help of his wife and daughters and a receptive population, the Go Local card was launched on Earth Day 2008. Go Local itself is the quintessential small local independent business, and Bob’s empathy for businesses and entrepreneurs was genuine and heartfelt.
Bob was born in 1943 in NYC and raised in Bound Brook and Somerville, NJ. He earned a degree in art history from Rutgers University and cultivated a lifelong interest in architecture and design with a particular focus on cities. After college, he spent two years in the Peace Corps in Tanzania, returned home to teach in Bedford Stuyvesant, NY, and became convinced that urban renaissance and renewal were urgently required. He began to look into planned communities that attempted to address the decline of downtowns occurring across America. His family had long been in real estate, and he became a developer, desiring to re-create the main street style cities of his youth. He worked with Toll Brothers, Robert Hillier, Robert A.M. Stern and Gwathmey Segal on land and architectural projects.
Following the real estate crash in the late 80s and his move to marketing for real estate companies, Bob experienced firsthand the difficulties that local business had when competing with chains and franchises with national marketing budgets. Local businesses are the heart and creative engine of every town and form its identity; and these were struggling greatly. He began thinking of how to assist them. Eventually he saw that a card program benefiting consumers and shifting their spending to local businesses (if even if just 10%) would have significant impact.
The idea was borne out of Austin-based studies. Fewer than five years after Go Local’s inception, over 500 businesses (including many restaurants and coffee shops) are participating. More and more fundraisers, promotional campaigns, and business professionals such as realtors use the card to raise money, market themselves, and support their city at the same time.
Peter Craig, a long-time manager with Go Local, said, “Bob reminded people that economy and community are inseparable, and that the more we bring awareness to our local economy, the more our community prospers. He taught me the art and science of merging heart with business.”
Brandi Clark Burton of Austin Eco-Network wrote: “I send condolences to all those who will miss this loving man. He always greeted me with the biggest smile and treated me like a treasured friend, and I know he treated others the same.”
Penny Britton of Simply Austin Furniture wrote that she felt as others did: “We loved him and felt privileged to know him.” Vlad Glouchkov of Castle Hill Fitness wrote, “Words can’t describe how saddened I am by this news. I feel myself lucky to have known Bob and will miss seeing him.”
In Bob’s words, “I pushed the rock up the hill and it stayed.” We are inspired by the example of a life well lived, with courage, good spirits and grace in the face of obstacles. It was one of the greatest satisfactions of Bob’s life to be involved in a business with a message and also a means for positive social gain.
Contributions may be made in his name to Amala Foundation of Austin.