Everybody calls him "Mr. Bob."
They say 72-year-old Bob Poling is uniquely likeable.
"Oh, Mr. Bob's the best," said Tammy Manion of Martins Ferry. "He would give you the shirt off his back. He always called everybody 'Little One.' He was just a friend to everybody."
"When you meet him, you feel like you've known him for years," said Diana Massey, co-owner of Dawg Gone Bait & Tackle in Bridgeport, near Mr. Bob's shop. "He would do anything for anybody even if it meant doing without himself. We call him Mr. Bob out of respect."
"He gives dollars to our kids for candy," said Theresa Linerode-Walford of Bridgeport. "He's always got a smile."
"Mr. Bob was like a father, a grandfather, to many of us." said Shawn Massey of Dawg Gone Bait & Tackle. People are now streaming into the fishing supply store, where they're taking up a collection for a reward. They say Bob was beaten severely, possibly with a two-by-four or a pipe.
And people want to catch who did this.
"I'm not a fighter," said Manion. "But boy, I sure would like to take a two-by-four to them!"
"Somebody somewhere knows something," said Diana Massey. "Somebody somewhere knows who did this."
"Everybody's concerned about Mr. Bob," said Shawn Massey. "A lot of people want to go out and catch the attacker and, you know, do some bodily harm. But we're telling people to let the police do their job."
They say Mr. Bob had a small wood shop on Main Street where he made gun cabinets, bird houses and replicas of mansions.
They say most of all, he helped anyone who needed help.
"He took in all the strays, whether it be dogs and cats or somebody hitch-hiking through town," noted Gordie Longshaw, Bridgeport business owner. "Everybody liked Bob. Bob's a legend."
Anyone with information about the Sunday night-Monday morning beating on Howard Street is urged to contact Bridgeport Police at (740) 635-9999. Anyone wanting to donate to the reward fund can stop by Dawg Gone It Bait & Tackle at 321 Main Street, Bridgeport.