Frank Battisti: A Legacy of Faith and Civil Liberties

1976- The year that Steve Jobs founded Apple; the year gymnast Nadia Comaneci was awarded a perfect 10 score on her Olympic routine; and the year Judge Frank Battisti would receive the most controversial case of his career. On August 31st, 1976 Robert Anthony Reed III filed a lawsuit against Cleveland Public Schools on the grounds of purposeful discrimination and segregation, thereby denying Reed, and countless other students, their rights founded upon the 14th Amendment. The case cast a spotlight on Judge Battisti; however, he was no stranger to controversy.     

Frank Battisti
Photo Credit: Cleveland Memory Project           Judge Battisti Presiding over Reed v. Rhodes

Born on October 4th, 1922 in Youngstown, Ohio, Battisti served as a combat engineer during World War II. Upon returning from active duty, he attended Ohio University to study law and soon after attended Harvard Law School. He served as a civil attorney for the U.S. Army before teaching Law at Youngstown State University and opening his own private practice.  

JRK Picture
Photo Credit: Kheel Center via Flickr President John F Kennedy appointed Frank Battisti as the District Judge of Northern Ohio in 1961. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States. Learn more about John F Kennedy here.

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy appointed Battisti as the District Judge of Northern Ohio. Being only 39 years old at the time, this made Battisti the youngest federal judge in the country. In 1969 he would be appointed head judge, and it wasn’t long after this appointment that Battisti earned a reputation for accepting controversial and challenging cases. Some highlights include his decision to deport John Demjanjuk, an Eastern European immigrant suspected of Nazi war crimes, and the acquittal of eight Ohio National Guardsmen who took part in the Kent State Massacre in 1970. These, among other cases, accelerated both Battisti’s regional and national exposure that would only escalate further upon the Reed vs. Rhodes case.     

Kent State Shooting
Photo Credit: Cliff via Flickr  
The Kent State Shootings took place on May 4th, 1970 in Kent, OH. During a student protest of the Cambodian Campaign, Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on the students, killing four and wounding nine. Learn more about the Kent State Shootings here.


Siding with Reed, Judge Battisti ruled that Cleveland Public Schools were, in fact, guilty of intentional segregation and ruled that Cleveland Public Schools start an integration program. (A process that would last upwards of 20 years or, as some would argue, continue to this day). The ruling was very controversial and resulted in Battisti and his wife, Gloria Karpinski (m. 1963), receiving multiple death threats. Many people close to Battisti testify that it was his deep Catholic faith and respect for civil liberties that aided Battisti’s decisions. 

Battisti’s strong resolve earned him several honors throughout the course of his life; most notably, the 1979 Award for Outstanding Trial Judge by the Trial Lawyers Association of America, and in 1974 a plaque awarded by B’nai B’rith for Battisti’s commitment to civil rights. 

Frank J Battisti died on October 19th, 1994, and his death received national media coverage. He is still known today as a major civil rights advocate, and his ruling in Reed v. Rhodes has shaped the Cleveland school system as we know it today. While Judge Battisti certainly lived a life full of controversy, his effect on Cleveland history is undeniable. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.     

Photo Credit: Marella Gallagher

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Holy Cross Cemetery, Brook Park, after heavy rain last week.

Holy Cross Cemetery, Brook Park, after heavy rain last week.

Sharing a nice note we received about our staff at Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron…

Sharing a nice note we received about our staff at Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron…

Winter scene at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brook Park.

Winter scene at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brook Park.

Fr. McCann celebrates Cemetery Sunday Mass at Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron

Fr. McCann celebrates Cemetery Sunday Mass at Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron.

Am I Strong Enough to Handle This?

After the death of a loved one, life can seem so overwhelming.  We may want to scream, “Why is everyone acting as if nothing happened? I am experiencing the greatest pain of my life! My world has been turned upside down!” We then realize that life does go on and we must continue to function. We are tired, we can’t sleep, we have no appetite, or we are forgetful.  We may be angry, impatient and may burst into tears at the drop of a hat. We then ask ourselves, “How am I going to get through this? I don’t think I am strong enough.”

Do you remember when you were younger and you could not reach something? You would ask your mom or dad for help.  Even now when I can’t open that pickle jar, I have to ask my husband for help.  As we all know, it is easy to get lost in an unfamiliar area and eventually we have to ask for directions.  In order for many of us to get through our grief, we have to ask for help.  It is very difficult to get through this journey alone.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Through the assistance from loved ones, friends, support groups and other bereavement services, you can gain the strength necessary to work through your grief.  Our Lord is our greatest source of that strength.  The Lord is waiting with open arms to comfort you and sit with you.

              The next time you feel overwhelmed, afraid, lonely or sad, find a quiet place in your home or yard; close your eyes and take a deep breath.  Ask that the Lord come sit with you or walk with you and pour out your concerns and troubles to Him. Imagine the Lord with his arms around you, holding you or maybe evening carrying you.  He wants nothing more than to do that for you during this difficult time.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

Nancy Romaine

Bereavement Coordinator

Catholic Cemetery Association

Tending To Our Gardens

This time of year, I marvel at the talents bestowed upon gardeners and farmers by God.  The sowing season entails so much planning, preparation and hard work.  After the crops or gardens are planted, there is an immense amount of care needed to insure a fruitful harvest; the watering, weeding, fertilizing and pruning. But after months of rigorous labor and meticulous care, the farmer and gardener reap the benefits of their hard work; Fresh fruits and vegetables that will be enjoyed by so many!

After the harvest, the land is turned and fertilized with the garden leftovers to prepare for the next growing season.  I can’t help but see similarities between our gardens and our human existence.

The Lord, our Master Gardener, meticulously planned and planted us exactly where He wanted us to be.   He feeds us spiritually with the Sacred Scriptures and the blessed Sacraments.  He weeds away anxiety, temptation, and human weakness through Divine Intervention of the Holy Spirit.  I compare hardship in our lives to the Lord pruning us to insure that we grow to our fullest potential and put our trust in Him.  That pruning sometimes hurts.  During this time, we may question our faith, our God, and our worth.  Gardeners know however, that after pruning a plant, new growth occurs.  Greener and fuller branches appear and the plant is healthier and bears more fruit.

May this summer bring you sunshine, soft rains and quiet times so that you may reflect on what a wonderful creation you are. Blessings.

Nancy Romaine

Bereavement Coordinator

Catholic Cemeteries Association