2014 Inductees

To locate an inductee click on INDUCTEE SEARCH above then type in the person’s name in the box at the far right.

Photo of American Legion Brewer-Tarasco Post #7
American Legion Brewer-Tarasco Post #7 Organization

On November 9, 1944, twenty-six civic-minded veterans of Wickliffe met to form an American Legion Post. With the thought of God and Country and the opportunity of better community service by the veterans for the Post was Brewer Tarasco of Wickliffe, the agenda was set up with Joseph Varnum as temporary chairman and William Russel at temporary secretary.

At their second meeting, on November 16, the unanimous vote to accept the name of the Post “Brewer-Tarasco” was passed.

The Brewer-Tarasco American Legion Post #7 was named in honor of two veterans, Merwin Brewer, the first casualty of WW I while Dominic Tarasco the first casualty in WW II, both from Wickliffe.

By December 7, 1944, the temporary charter was issued and – on one glorious evening December 14 – the constitution and by-laws were adopted and the first election of officers was made. The “Founding Eight” – to whom the past Commander of the Post #163, Earl Huddelson, obligated to their respective offices – were as follows: Commander, Joseph Varnum; 1st Vice-Commander, Fred Grebb; 2nd Vice-Commander, Ray Oliver; Adjutant, William Russel; Sgt. at Arms, Merrill Stam; Financial Officer, Irwin Pebley; Chaplain, Merlyn (Joe) Harkness; and Historian, Fred Homer.

On January 25, 1945, the formal installation and initiation was held at the Wickliffe High School auditorium. It was here that the charter was presented by County Commander, George Martin to Commander Joseph Varnum. The American Flag and Post Colors – by Mrs. Guy James, Junior Past Commander of the Wickliffe chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America – were presented to Adjutant William Russel to be posted. These colors are the colors posted today and represent all they represent, and will be through the post tradition. In the same regard, Mrs. Joseph Varnum then presented a Gavel to the Commander. The Gavel, though simple in nature, can and should be regarded fondly as the continual authority and respect intended got the Post – and represents these very same ideals this very day. A Post Ceremonial Light was then presented by Guy James, a Spanish-American War veteran – may we all find our way home using this source.

A Wickliffe Post #7 tradition is the annual Memorial Day Parade and Ceremonies. This patriotic event was turned over to the American Legion Post in 1945 from the City’s schools and government leaders. Its early parade route was from the old high school (now the middle school) to the Wickliffe Cemetery. Its route was changed in the 60’s from Mt. Carmel Church and Bailey Controls (now ABB) to City Hall.

Post Commanders including led the events: Joe DiOrio, Ralph Hiller, Jack Freeman and Jose Rivera. Different religious leaders including Rev. Philip Nicholas, Rabbi Wolfe, and Rev. Eddie Walker led the invocation and benedictions. American Legion emcees included Chip Saunders, Gary Minadeo and Dave Krych. The ceremonies at City Hall included the reading of those killed in WW I, WW II, Korean War and Vietnam War and 21-gun salute. The final ceremony is held at the Legion Post for rising of the Post Colors and a lunch offered by the Legionaries.

Photo of Keith R. Bennett
Keith R. Bennett Government

Keith R. Bennett, a former Wickliffe Councilman, helped to implement Wickliffe’s Paramedic program. Keith, a lifelong Wickliffe resident, participated in many civic organizations and has contributed to the continual improvement of Wickliffe.

His involvement with the city began when he became a lifeguard at Wickliffe’s Jindra Pool. He eventually became the Learn-to-Swim Director, responsible for all swimming, lifesaving and diving classes at Jindra pool. His civic interests continued to expand, into becoming a Jaycee and softball coach.

He was appointed to the Wickliffe Charter Review Board. Upon completion of this board assignment, he ran for and was elected as Councilman in Ward 2. He served two terms as Councilman. During that time, he proposed the formation of the Paramedic Task Force Study Committee. This was a special Committee of Council that he chaired, and was comprised of selected Wickliffe residents. Their challenge was to conduct a comprehensive study and fact finding into Paramedic Programs. The committee worked with Fire Chief Ed Bohenek and met with medical staff and safety forces involved with paramedic programs. This knowledge later proved very beneficial and facilitated the formation of Wickliffe’s first Paramedic program. The Paramedic program has benefited Wickliffe residents for many years. Also during his terms on council, he served on the Parks and Recreation Board and Board of Zoning appeals. His tenure on the Board of Zoning Appeals continues and has lasted over 34 years, a majority of that time has been as Chairman.

Keith was a charter board member of the Wickliffe Civic Center (WICCI).

After his terms on Council, Keith was elected as an Ordained Elder of the Wickliffe Presbyterian Church. This is a lifelong commitment. In addition, he has served as treasurer for the church for over seven years.

Keith graduated from Lakeland Community College in 1969. He received an Associate’s degree in Applied Business (Information Technology). He is currently in the Information Technology field, and has performed in that field for over 45 years. He has held several positions, including Programming Manager and Senior level Software Developer. In addition, he has been a licensed Realtor since 1988. During that time, he has participated in many improvements to properties in Wickliffe. As a Realtor, he was directly responsible for sales of several properties that resulted in the building of four new homes in Wickliffe and the razing of one that was in disrepair.

He married Linda Gordon in 1973. Both were Wickliffe Senior High graduates in 1967. They have been married for over 40 years and have three sons, Glenn, Todd and Scott, also all Wickliffe Senior High graduates. In addition there are two daughter-in-laws, Marie (Glenn) and Michelle (Todd) and Scott’s fiancée, Rebecca. They are grandparents to Kayla, Mason, Allyson and Ty.

Photo of K. Michael Benz
K. Michael Benz Arts

Michael Benz’s work reflects his passion for the Northeast Ohio community. He was instrumental in bringing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to Cleveland and served as the museum’s director. He first coordinated the effort to win the rights to build the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, then was recruited back to become the director and finished the funding and broke ground at a critical juncture in the Rock Hall’s development.

Mike is the retired President and CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland, one of the largest and most innovative United Way programs in the nation. Under his 18 years of leadership, United Way raised more than $732 million dollars to fund health and human services in our community. Also under Mike’s leadership, United Way implemented one of the most innovative public art projects, GuitarMania®, that raised nearly $2 million and attracts national and international acclaim. Mike also is known for operating a very tight ship and he has kept administrative expenses under 13 percent, which is less than many other non-profits, including other United Ways around the country.

Mike is married to Louise and has 5 Children, Aaron, Patrick, Jessica, Lisa and Mary.

They have 14 grandchildren. They live in Concord, Ohio, was raised in the early years in Cleveland, then
Euclid and his formative years in Wickliffe where graduated from Wickliffe High in 1965. Attended Cuyahoga and Lakeland Community Colleges.

He served in the United States Navy.

In addition to raising funds for our community, Mike has invested as much energy in ensuring that United Way’s investments are sound. In 2008, under his leadership United Way implemented a new approach to funding programs that is heavily grounded in research and designed to move the needle on our community’s problems. Today, United Way funds 216 health and human service programs and three federated agencies that help more than 450,000 Greater Cleveland residents every year.

His career also includes 12 years as the Greater Cleveland Growth Association Executive Vice President and seven years as COSE Executive Director.

Mike has served on several local, state and national boards for the Chamber of Commerce, the United Way at all levels. He was an Executive Committee Member of the Cuyahoga and Cleveland Workforce Board. He served for 10 years as a Trustee of Cuyahoga Community College and served as its Vice Chairman. He currently serves on several organization boards, including Ingenuity. He is the Chairman of the Board of South Pointe Hospital. He is on the Regional Board of Fifth Third Bank. He is on the Citizens Board for the FBI.

He was inducted the Wickliffe High Hall of Fame for his achievements.

He has an active consulting practice, serving Ciuni and Panichi Accounting and Advisors Spire Institute, Recreation, and many Not for Profits.

Photo of Bob Calic
Bob Calic Sports

Bob Calic was very active in sports at an early age. Football was his choice of sport during his attendance at East High School in Cleveland Ohio.

Bob and his wife, Pat, are the proud parents of three sons Chris, Sam and Todd.  Bob moved his family to Wickliffe, Ohio in 1970 and resided there for almost twenty years. At that time his father in law passed away and his mother in law moved in with the family. They needed to find a larger home. Bob, and his family, moved only one street away to Willoughby where he continued, and still continues to retain, his ties to the community of Wickliffe. As a result, those same ties have been instilled within two of his three sons, Chris and Todd, who coach within the city. Chris is the owner of Seasonal Sporting Goods in Mentor. Todd, the youngest of the three, is employed by the Wickliffe Recreation Department and is well known and respected for his contributions to the city. A third son, Sam, is a CPA in Mentor where he resides and is involved in coaching within that city. Through all the years of service to the Wickliffe community, Bob has instilled the love of working with the young within his sons while serving their respected communities.

Bob became involved with the Wickliffe Midget Football League long before his three sons were old enough to participate in the program and retains those ties to this day. He has spent every Sunday, during football season, at the Middle School field since his early days of coaching a team. After many seasons as a coach, he channeled his energy into any other area that needed his help and could benefit from his experience. He can be seen at the concession stand early Sunday mornings until the final game for the entire season. You will also see him at the Wickliffe High School football field as he watches the many athletes that have come up through the system and participate in the Wickliffe High School football program as he works the chains for each Friday night home game.

Bob’s enthusiasm did not end with football. He could be seen on any given spring and summer evening coaching the young athletes in baseball. He became an umpire for the youth leagues and was able to allow many of the Wickliffe kids to obtain jobs as umpires to earn a little money. He organized teams and played softball for many years with the Wickliffe Sunday morning league often times on the same team as his sons and their friends.

When not working with his son, Chris, at Seasonal Sporting Goods, working around the yard or helping out with programs in Wickliffe, you will find Bob along with his wife Pat, at every event involving their two grand-
children Lexie and Sammy.

Photo of Leslie Ciancibello
Leslie Ciancibello Civic

Over many years Leslie Ciancibello has been very active in the Wickliffe community. Most notably was his dedication to seeing that the Wickliffe Cemetery be reopened for those wishing to be buried in Wickliffe. Since the cemetery was no longer accepting in-ground burials he, along with his sister Terri Jo Rotondo, and members of the Wickliffe Cemetery Commission devised a way to open the cemetery with above ground inurnments. A columbarium would be purchased for holding the cremation ashes. The City approved the plan in 2008. To date 29 people have made Wickliffe their final resting place.

Les was also active in many City organizations. He was a past president of the Wickliffe Lions’ Club. He was a social member of the Wickliffe American Legion Post #7 and Wickliffe Eagles. He served as Wickliffe City Club board member and long-time member of the Wickliffe Knights of Columbus #5405. He has been a popular Italian-American Club member for over 22 years, serving two-terms on the board of directors.

He was most known for his fund-raising efforts for the organizations he joined. Whether the organization was raising funds for assisting the poor or ill, or helping high school seniors off to college with scholarships or assisting families in need of heat, food or rent he helped get the job done. He would also donate many of his own dollars for the benefit of others.

Les is the son of Lester and Theresa (Fatica) Ciancibello. Lester was inducted into the Wickliffe Community Hall of Fame in 1993 for his role in serving the US Army during WW II.

He was born in Painesville and moved to Wickliffe where he attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School and Wickliffe High School. Following high school he worked at Consolidated Box in Wickliffe where he met his future wife Radelle Tirabasso in 1965.

Les and Rae were married in 1966. They raised two boys, Leslie and Luke. Leslie is married to Mary (Krahe) and they have two daughters Kaela and Allison. Luke’s two children are Alanna and Nicholas.

He learned the upholstering business from his father at Schultz Upholstery. He eventually took over the business. He moved the company from Cleveland Heights to Willoughby 11 years ago. He operated the business for over 48 years. Les recently retired from the company and his son, Luke, has taken over. Thus following in his footsteps, as Les did for his father.

Les’s siblings include brother Doug Ciancibello, owner of Burgers and Beer in Willoughby. His wife is Toni (Lariccia). Les’ sister Terri Jo is the wife of Lornie Rotondo.

Although retired, Les attends as many meetings and fund-raising functions as possible. And, he is still buying and selling fund-raising tickets through his many Wickliffe friends.

Photo of Richard D. DiCicco
Richard D. DiCicco Heritage

(Deceased, 1938-2007)

Richard DiCicco, in his spare time, thoroughly enjoyed his more than 40 years of membership to the Wickliffe Italian-American Club. As a member of the Parliamentary Committee and several other committees, he was instrumental in the formation of the current bylaws, contract bid work, and development of the financial controls currently used at all activities held by the club.  Richard also served for several years as Director of Operations for the Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce and enjoyed playing in and winning the invitational tournament many consecutive years as the captain of the Lake Metro Parks team.

Richard was born on March 3, l938 to parents Frank and Theresa, had a younger brother Dominic and lived his entire life in Wickliffe. At a very young age, he helped his mother and father at their family run store, DiCicco’s Grocery and Beverage. He attended Wickliffe Schools and graduated in 1956.

Richard attended Kent State University and later the Cleveland State University, Marshall School of Law,
passing the Bar Examination while working full-time with the State Auditor’s Office. For the next 32 years, he worked both as a State Examiner and Attorney, moving his legal practice from Euclid to Wickliffe in 1985 where it closed at his death in 2007.

During Richard’s 32 years at the State Auditor’s Office, he used his accounting education and legal background to conduct special investigations and started the current Special Audit Section of the State Auditor’s Office. Richard headed a small team of investigators from the State Auditor’s Office and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate and successfully prosecute some of the largest white-collar criminals in the 80’s and early 90’s. He became a Certified Fraud Examiner in 1992.

In 1998 Betty Montgomery, Auditor of State and former State Attorney General said of Richard,
“With his thorough investigative skills and auditing and legal background, Richard knows how to close all the doors to an investigation and make a guilty plea the only possible outcome.”

Upon retirement from the State in 1991, Richard continued his legal practice and performed several while-collar investigations. Early in 2001, at the request of the Geauga County Prosecutor, he headed a team of investigators into a troubled Chester Township, where he uncovered a $4.1 million scheme, hatched by the Chester Township Clerk. At the time this was the single largest monetary finding, in Ohio, against an individual in government.

Richard also served several years as a Commissioner for the Lake Metro Parks. He was very proud of his work on the park board, receiving many accolades during his years of service.

Though many things were important to Richard, nothing was more important than his family. Richard was married to Donna for 42 years, and had three children, Richard Jr., Paul (Janet) and Teresa (Art). He was also very proud of his five grandchildren, Abigail, Nina, Faith, Joshua and Alexis. One more grandchild he did not see was Jessica. He would have been proud of her also.

Photo of John D. Geither
John D. Geither Military

John Geither is a decorated Korean War veteran. He was assigned to the 8th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 49th Fighter Bomber Group, at K-2 Air Force Base, and Taegu, Korea.

He flew 91 combat missions in a F-84, Thunder Jet, primarily in close support and interdiction. He spent one year in Korea and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. He also received the Air Medal and Three Oak Leaf Clusters for his participation in the Korean War.

John was accepted into the Air Force in 1951. He began his basic flight training at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, and advanced training at Williams Air Force Base in Mesa, Arizona. After receiving his wings in the Class of 1952A, he spent three months at Luke Air Force Base training in air-to-ground gunnery school.

On returning from the Korean War he married “the love of his life”, Lillian Grega. They spent the first two years of married life at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida. While at Tyndall, he flew as an ‘all weather instructor pilot’, flying a T-33 Lockheed Jet.

John was born on August 9, 1929 in Cleveland, Ohio to parents Harold and Constance Geither. He graduated from John Marshall High School in 1947. He later attended engineering classes at Ohio State University and Fenn College.

After his four years in the Air Force he completed his education at night school at Cleveland State University. He graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1960.

Lillian and John have lived in Wickliffe for 54 years. During that time they were members of Mount Carmel Church. He spent six years as an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 189. He was a leader in the Weblos and Explorer Scouts.

He worked at Addressograph Multigraph and Picker X-Ray as a mechanical engineer and until retiring in 1995.

After retiring, both he and Lillian have spent over ten years doing volunteer work with Eaton
Corporation’s “REV’D UP” Group in the Cleveland Area.

Lillian and John have five loving children: David (Sue), Debbie (Dan), Lynn (Jeff), Ronald (Gina), and Cindy (fiancee Steve).

They have 14 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, with one more great-grandchild expected in 2014.

Photo of Grace Marie McCullough
Grace Marie McCullough Religion

Grace McCullough is a woman of deep faith, love, devotion, and compassion. It all originates from her heritage, parents, education, friends, family, City of Wickliffe, and the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Community.

Although much could be said of her, it is her religion, faith, duty to God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and the Virgin Mary that are most important to Grace. She can be found at mass nearly every day at either OLMC, St. Paul’s Shrine in Cleveland or at Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in Euclid.

Grace became a member of the Mt. Carmel Society in 1978, and later an officer.

With encouragement from Mary Biondolillo (then OLMC Society President), Grace began to organize one and two-day pilgrimages to places of religious significants. Most pilgrimages in Ohio and Pennsylvania carried busloads of OLMC Society members and parishioners to see and hear the messages from God.

These small trips would change in 1987, when a small OLMC group talked about a village in Yugoslavia named Medjugorje. The Blessed Virgin Mary was appearing to 6 children.  Catholics and non-Catholics from the world over traveled there hoping to see the Virgin Mary and receive her blessings. Knowing this, Grace had to go. She helped organized a seven-day Pilgrimage to Medjugorje. After experiencing the Virgin Mary’s blessings and presence, she organized three more Medjugorje trips.

Heeding Gods call, Grace organized pilgrimages to Italy, Portugal, France, Turkey, Spain, Greece, Slovenia, Guadalupe-Mexico, as well as various USA trips.

In 1990, Rev. Nicholas Taylor (OLMC) asked if she would arrange a bus trip to a Marion Conference in Chicago. So inspired by the speakers, community, and Holy Spirit, that when she returned, a group was formed of Fr. Taylor, Tom Hummar (Bus Mgr), Celine Dudley (Attorney) and Grace to plan the Cleveland Marian Conference. The first conference was held in 1991 at the Cleveland Convention Center and three more followed in 1992, 1993 and 1995. Most volunteers were from the Mt. Carmel Society and OLMC parish.

In 1991, Grace joined a prayer group at Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine. For 18 years, every Friday night the group met and prayed. They prayed what has become known as “The Divine Mercy Chaplet.” Fr. Emmanuel Buenen (Order of Franciscan Monks) began teaching about Divine Mercy and its feast day. Since 2001, OLMC has celebrated Mercy Sunday (the 1st Sunday after Easter) and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Grace and Rev. John Sturmac were the organizers.

In 1993, Grace helped organized the Perpetual Adoration Chapel. The Perpetual Adoration Chapel is where someone is present at OLMC’s Chapel seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Anyone can pray, adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament because of this.  Grace is a fixture on Wednesday’s at 3 pm.

In 2000, Grace became a Eucharistic Minister after the encouragement of Rev. Thomas Stock (OLMC).

In 2005, after three plus years of religious studies, Grace became a Secular Franciscan. This is a community of Catholic men and women in the world who seek to pattern their lives after Christ in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. Franciscan’s are members of The Third Order of St. Francis. St. Francis of Assisi founded it over 800 years ago. One of the vows of St. Francis’s spirituality was simply… “Observe the Gospel”.

Born in Collinwood to first generation Italian Americans, Anthony and Josephine Laddis, she is the second of five children (Loretta, Lewis, Anthony, Barbara). Grace raised three sons, Ken, Jr., Gary, and Anthony.  Graces life has been an incredible journey filled with deep faith, love, and devotion.

Photo of Michele M. Rogers RN
Michele M. Rogers RN Medical/Health

(Deceased, 1933-2013)

Michele Marguerite Rogers was born in Akron on Valentine’s Day 1933, and like the central message of the holiday, her life was dedicated to love – that of her family, her friends, and her patients. Michele graduated from St. Vincent Charity Hospital School of Nursing in 1954 as class president. In her career as a registered nurse, she worked at St. Vincent Charity Hospital, Wade Park Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Booth Memorial Hospital, and De Paul Home for unwed mothers and St. Ann’s Hospital.

She married Ronald Keith Rogers in 1956 and together they quickly began raising a family. They moved to Wickliffe in 1976 where she, along with her husband and nine children, participated in many activities, playing various sports, swimming at Orlando Park, watching annual fireworks at Coulby Park, and attending Mass at our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.

In 1974, her desire to provide a broader spectrum of accessible, quality and continuous healthcare to women and their families led Michele to co-found BirthCare, which shortly thereafter became Womankind Maternal and Prenatal Care Center. Her life as a nurse filled Michele with deep purpose as a caregiver and advocate for pregnant women and their babies. Not only did this organization provide free prenatal care and delivery services for pregnant women, it also treated women with many other medical needs. During the thirty-five years Michele served there, she and her husband frequently opened their own home to women who had nowhere to turn and no place to live. Her children relate that it was common to come home and find strangers who would share their bedrooms or relegate them to sleeping on the couch.

Womankind, which will celebrate its fortieth year of service in 2015, continues to provide medical care and support to approximately 1500 women each year and averages 400-child births annually. In her work there, her colleagues as having describe Michele taught them patience, compassion, and listening skills. With a vision of untiring love of others and welcoming hospitality, she is remembered as treating each person who walked through the clinic’s door with kindness. Michele respected her clients, relating that they were, “some of the strongest women she knew.” A co-worker expressed that Michele, “Treasured her children, my children, your children and the waiting room children.” She consistently challenged those she worked with to love without limit; especially the most difficult clients whom she recognized were often the individuals needing it most.

Michele had a great sense of humor, a wild sense of adventure and a delightful sense of mischief. Theater and acting were her great loves and she was larger than life even without a stage. She created. She made things happen and fostered an environment where everyone could be their best. Her advocacy and concern for her fellow nurses and the nursing profession led her to help organize the nurse’s union at St. Vincent Charity Hospital.  In 1980, because of her work related to prenatal and infant care, the March of Dimes recognized Michele as Ohio’s Nurse of the Year.

Michele died at home surrounded by her loving family on April 25, 2013. She found her deepest
enjoyment in the hours she spent with her children, grandchildren, her sister Joan and her nieces and
nephews. Michele respected life. She treasured life. And she fully lived hers!

Photo of Herman Rueger
Herman Rueger Education

Education begins at an early age when we learn that we are part of a larger universe. Parents and teachers begin us on the lifelong path to learning. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, that path began there, where he grew up and eventually to moved to Wickliffe – more than half-a-century later.

After graduation from Wickliffe Senior High School and Kent State University, he was privileged to teach during a “golden age” of education in Wickliffe where creative support began at Worden Elementary School from the principal down to the professional colleagues with whom he taught. The entire team included the support staff from the secretaries, nurse, cooks, librarian, cafeteria and playground aides, and the ever-patient custodial staff.  The boys and girls provided life and energy to the process.

With his interest in Early American History, he spent 14 years as a seasonal Park Ranger / Historical Interpreter at Colonial National Historical Park – Jamestown / Yorktown, Virginia where he not only learned of, but also shared our national past with hundreds of visitors from across the country and around the world.  The two seasons serving in the Student Education Program at Gettysburg National Military Park took him into another pivotal era of our American history.

Closer to home, he shared our Western Reserve history with schoolchildren at Century Village in Burton, and spent over a quarter-century as historic interpreter and Director of River’s Bend Parks at the Lorenzo Carter Log Cabin at the Heritage Parks in Cleveland. Serving as a guide in Little Italy allowed him to learn and share the unique situations that immigrants faced when assimilating into America – situations that were experienced by all immigrants regardless of their nation of origin.

He assists Michael Lenenski, retired Choral Music Director of Wickliffe High School, in planning educational components of the Annual Wickliffe / New York City Theatre Tour.  These trips allowed him to research and share stories of that metropolis with those participating in the tours.

He states his motivating factor has always been – that from whatever era, history is the story of people, and people who were not all that different from us in our basic needs.  We can learn from them. And if we don’t, we are destined to repeat history – be that good or bad.

He is proud to share his induction into the Wickliffe Community Hall of Fame with his parents, Herman and Margaret, now deceased, and his sister, Susan Bocci, with those outstanding educators of Wickliffe City Schools- from elementary through High School- who influenced and challenged him on the path of education, to those distinguished colleagues with whom he taught and those who encouraged him to share knowledge in life’s journey wherever we might find ourselves.

Photo of Maurice Savitt
Maurice Savitt Business

(Deceased, 1910 –2000)

“Morry”, as his friends called him, owned and operated Savitt’s Market, a grocery store in Wickliffe, for over 25 years. Morry loved people. If you wanted something that was not on his store shelves, he would special order it for you. If you walked to the grocery store and bought more than you could carry, he would drive you home. If you overspent and didn’t have enough money to pay for your groceries, he would say, “pay me next time.” When Ken Conti was in high school and couldn’t afford to go to prom, Morry reached into his pocket and gave him the money so he could attend the dance.

If wealth was measured in how you treat and care about others, Morry Savitt was a wealthy man. His ability to carry on a conversation about anything with anyone was truly unsurpassed.

When he retired from the grocery business, he could not just stay home. People were his life. He helped out in the kitchen at Petti’s Restaurant until he passed away at the age of 90.

Morry loved Wickliffe. He served two terms as president of the Wickliffe Lions Club, helping many people in need.

Morry received his accounting degree from Fenn College. Money was tight after graduating and he needed a job. He moved up in the grocery business by working hard seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day. He was a manager of both Food Town and Pic-N-Pay stores before eventually purchasing his own grocery store in Wickliffe.

Morry served proudly in the army in World War II. He was one of seven brothers and sisters, all now deceased. His beloved wife, Rose, passed away on February 2, 1997. He is survived by his son, Dr. Sid Savitt (Dianna Austin); daughter, Debbie Haffner (John); grandson, Matt; granddaughter, Lindsey; and great-grandson, Matthew.

Photo of Helen (Minadeo) Vespe
Helen (Minadeo) Vespe Military

Helen (Minadeo) Vespe was just 22 years old in 1944 when she said to her mother she wished to join the U. S. Coast Guard at the height of World War II. Despite her mother’s pleas against her joining she eventually understood her daughter’s desires and acquiesced.

She was joining the Women’s Reserve of the U. S. Coast Guard Reserve program (officially nicknamed the “SPARs”), first established in 1942. A total of 978 women officers and 11,868 enlisted women served in the SPARs during World War II.

Gathering with many brave young women from the Cleveland area, they travelled by a rickety old train leaving from Terminal Tower, in downtown Cleveland, on an exciting and long journey to boot camp in West Palm Beach Florida. Her entire family was there to wish her off on her proud journey. Unsure of her next few days she ventured on determined to join the war effort.

Her fears of boot camp were diminished as she says, “It wasn’t that hard on us, mainly teaching us to march and learn the Coast Guard ways in three months time.”

Following boot camp she was assigned to Washington D. C. as clerical personnel for Coast Guard record keeping and general office work. She wasn’t there long before she heard her mother was ill and asked to be stationed near her home in Wickliffe. Her wish was approved and she was transferred to an office in downtown Cleveland.

Once in Cleveland she moved into the Coast Guard’s Quad Hall on E. 79th and Euclid Ave. Her days were spent in the Keith Building as a Coast Guard office worker.

Later due to her mother’s poor health she was allowed to live at home in Wickliffe while still working downtown.

Helen was born in Wickliffe in 1920 and lived almost all her years here except for the months training in Florida and working in Washington D. C.

Her mother, Lena Vitantonio married John Minadeo. Helen was the youngest of six children. Her siblings were: Jesse, Carrie, Dominic, Frances, and Antoinette. Her mother operated the Minadeo Grocery Store at 29522 Euclid Avenue in Wickliffe.

Fr. Nash, of Willoughby’s Immaculate Conception Church, traveled to Wickliffe to conduct the first Catholic masses in Wickliffe in the building next door at 29526 Euclid Avenue. This was prior to Our Lady of Carmel Church being built. Helen still lives in the apartment of the building that masses were held.

She left the Coast Guard in 1946 and went to work at Fisher Body in Euclid, Ohio. She later married Benjamin Vespe in 1959.

Helen doesn’t speak much of her years in the Coast Guard and feels she did little in the war. She was a brave young patriotic woman who volunteered to help the American cause. The members of the U. S. Coast Guard regard her as a vital part of a well-run machine. The many women (SPARs) like her, working behind the scenes, were just as important to the war effort as those on the seas and front lines, doing their part in keeping the world safe from tyranny and free.