Saint Benedict the Moor: Patron Saint of African Americans

One of the greatest elements of the Catholic faith is its ability to reach so many people from so many walks of life. The Catholic faith has been spread throughout the world, with Christ’s message being shared in hundreds of countries both near and far. The Church welcomes everyone no matter their race, ethnicity, or nationality. In fact, the Church celebrates these differences! Saint Benedict the Moor is a perfect example of how the Catholic Church is an all-encompassing family. Born to two African slaves, St. Benedict embraced the Catholic church and became one of the Church’s finest teachers. Keep reading to learn more about this remarkable saint!

 

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St. Benedict was born in 1526 in Italy. His parents, Cristoforo and Diana Manasseri were two African slaves that were brought to Italy (exact location is not known, but most likely near Sicily) and given new Italian names. After arriving in Italy, St. Benedict’s parents both converted to Catholicism and had their son, Benedict. Due to his parents’ “loyal service” St. Benedict was born free from slavery, but this didn’t mean his life was easy. Being a peasant, St. Benedict did not attend school, and instead spent his time working as a shepherd in his youth. Much of what he earned he gave to the poor. As he grew older, St. Benedict began to face some persecution for the color of his skin. Instead of becoming angry or upset, St. Benedict was known for being patient and dignified when these instances occurred. In fact, this humble response led to the leader of Monte Pellegrino, a group of hermits that followed the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, to reach out to St. Benedict to ask if he’d join the order. St. Benedict accepted, leaving behind all of his earthly possessions and joining the order as a cook. When he was only 28 years old, Benedict became the leader of the order, due to his superior knowledge of scripture and his leadership skills.

In 1564 Pope Pius IV decreed that all independent religious groups must be affiliated with a religious order. After this decree, Benedict joined the Order of Friars Minor where he was assigned to the Franciscan Friary of St. Mary Jesus, where he again started as a cook. Over the years St. Benedict increased his rank, advancing to Master of Novices to eventually becoming Guardian of the Community, one of the major leadership roles. This was quite an accomplishment for St. Benedict, who remained to be a layperson due to his inability to read. (At the time, it was required that priests and religious figures be able to read and write). During his time as Guardian, St. Benedict encouraged and developed a more structured and strict Franciscan rule of life. St. Benedict was very well respected due to his very involved understanding of theology and scripture. He was seen as very wise and was often sought after for advice and console, as well as healing the sick and suffering. Later in life, St. Benedict returned to working in the kitchen, as cooking was something he greatly enjoyed.

 

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St. Benedict passed away when he was 65 years old. He passed away on the exact date and time he predicted, further proving his higher connection to Christ. His death drew attention from across the continent, and King Phillip of Spain constructed a tomb to hold St. Benedict’s remains in the friary church. In 1743 St. Benedict was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV, and he was eventually canonized by Pope Pius VII. During the beatification, it was discovered that St. Benedict’s body was incorrupt. Today St. Benedict’s legacy lives on as he is the Patron saint of African Americans, and provides a source of strength for those facing racial prejudice.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

St. Francis of Assisi: From Sinner to Saint

In case you missed it, this Wednesday was October 4th—St. Francis of Assisi’s feast day! Let’s take a closer look at one of the world’s best known saints. Not only is St. Francis well-known, but he is also an extremely respected saint, and is even represented by Pope Francis, who took the saint’s name upon his installation as Pope in 2013. So what makes St. Francis so notable? Keep reading to find out!

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Born in 1181 in Assisi, Italy, St. Francis was born into a life of luxury. His father was fairly wealthy from dealing in the cloth trade, and his mother was considered extremely beautiful. St. Francis’ family was certainly one of high social standing, which led to St. Francis being spoiled in his younger years. As he grew up, St. Francis lived the life of a sinner, being known as a rebellious teenager who was self-obsessed and prone to drinking and partying. Instead of following into his father’s footsteps as a cloth merchant, St. Francis instead dreamed of becoming a knight and fighting in epic battles. So when the war between Assisi and Perugia began in 1202, Francis immediately enlisted, thinking that his fantasies of becoming a knight would come to fruition. However, due to his complete lack of experience, St. Francis was quickly captured by enemy soldiers. Francis spent nearly a year as a prisoner in the enemy camp. While some might consider this the lowest point in St. Francis’ life, it is actually one of the most profound periods in his life.

While captured, St. Francis began to receive visions from Christ who told St. Francis to change his ways and heal the church, which at the time was rather corrupt. When St. Francis was finally released, he wasn’t the same man he was before. He began to spend most of his time in prayer and eventually he took a complete vow of poverty and devoted his life entirely to Christ. He began to preach around Assisi, and soon had 12 loyal followers. Sounds familiar right?

Now, this drastic change in Francis turned a few heads, especially those of his mother and father. As St. Francis’ fame grew to a global scale, his ties with his family were weakened. This tension grew until one day Francis stole some of his father’s cloth to pay for church expenses. His father was obviously upset, and the local bishop demanded that St. Francis return the money he bartered for the cloth. St. Francis returned the money, along with his clothing to his father and then stated “God is my only true Father.” That instance marked St. Francis’ last communicate with his parents.

After cutting of his connection with his parents, St. Francis left Assisi and began to travel from city to city preaching God’s word. During the height of his preaching, he was visiting over 5 cities a day! He was so passionate about his preaching that he even began spreading the word of God to animals on his travels, which many found extremely odd at the time. Little did he know that this would lead to his eventual patronage! Francis was a very powerful leader, gathering thousands of followers that would later be known as Franciscan Friars.

In 1224, St. Francis received the stigmata of Christ, making him the first saint to receive the holy wounds. About a year later, as St. Francis’ health declined, he returned to Assisi. By that time, people were already aware of his approaching sainthood, so Francis was guarded by the knights of Assisi to ensure that people did not try to steal relics or disturb him during his final days. St. Francis died the night of October 3, 1226 still bearing the stigmata of Christ. Just two years later, he was canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church. His legacy lives on in countless recorded miracles and his story shows us all how we are all called to leave behind comfort and convenience for a life dedicated to Christ, and how it’s never too late to turn from sin and turn toward Christ.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: The Church’s first Native American Saint

When one thinks of sainthood and the saints that have gone before us, we often call to mind images of perfect Catholics: baptized at birth, growing up at their local church, becoming missionaries, etc. In some cases, these perceptions are very true. But what’s more interesting is the fact that a majority of saints were actually converts—people who came to discover the faith later in life, or after the intercession of another saint or religious figure. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was one such saint. Born in 1656, St. Kateri was a member of the Mohawk clan and lived in the village of Ossernenon (northern New York state). At a young age, St. Kateri’s family contracted small pox, resulting in the deaths of both her parents and siblings. St. Kateri herself was not left unscathed, as she would carry smallpox scars with her until her death. This was often a source of embarrassment growing up, and St. Kateri would often hide her face behind a blanket or cloth to cover the numerous scars.

 

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After the death of her family, St. Kateri was adopted by her uncle, who was the chief of the Mohawk clan, and his wife. St. Kateri was described as a very patient and kind person, who was also a very skilled worker who contributed greatly to the clan. When St. Kateri reached the appropriate age, her aunt and uncle arranged marriages with several of the clan’s members, but each time St. Kateri refused. As she approached adulthood, St. Kateri befriended a local priest who instructed her on the Catechism, and at the age of 19 she converted to Catholicism, taking a vow of chastity and pledging to marry Christ alone. She was baptized under the name Catherine, for St. Catherine of Sienna. (Kateri is actually the Mohawk version of Catherine) The conversation upset her clan in several ways– not only was she still refusing to marry, but she was converting to a faith that many of the clan considered to be a product of sorcery. After this negative response from her clan, St. Kateri decided to move to a native Christian community in Montréal, Canada.

 

From there St. Kateri completely devoted her life to Christ. She would often partake in self-mortification, often in the form of fasting or burning herself. It was also rumored that she slept with thorns on her sleeping mat. She prayed often for the conversion of her Mohawk tribe, and prayed to Jesus and Mary consistently. Sadly, St. Kateri’s self-mortification led to her pre-mature death at the age of 24. After her death, it’s said that her facial scars disappeared, and that she appeared to three of her closest friends over the three days following her death. Since her death in 1680, St. Kateri has been credited with several miracles, including healing a boy with small pox in the 18th century, and the healing of a priest and nun shortly after. Once news of St. Kateri’s miracles circulated, people began gathering dirt from around her grave and wearing it in bags around their necks. One woman is known for saying that the relic saved her and her husband from disease. This continued for hundreds of years, but the miracle that would finally solidify St. Kateri’s sainthood took place in 2006 in Washington state. A young boy was suffering from an aggressive strand of flesh-eating bacteria. The boy’s parents had prayed to St. Kateri, and even enlisted the help of their friends and family to offer up intentions. One day, Sister Kateri Mitchell, a Catholic nun, came to visit the young boy and placed a bone fragment of St. Kateri on his skin. The next day the bacteria stopped spreading the boy began to recover.

 

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Saint Kateri was officially canonized in 2012 by Pope Benedict EVI, after being beatified by Pope John Paul II. She was the first Native American to be recognized as a saint, and she is considered the patron saint of ecology and the environment.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Anton Grdina: Faithful Community Leader

Often, change and improvement doesn’t come from a huge organization or powerful political leader, but rather humble and hardworking locals who care enough about their community to recognize an issue and do something about it. The Cleveland area, especially, is known for these modest leaders—one of which is Anton Grdina. Born in a small Yugoslavian village in 1874, Grdina came to the United States in 1897, settling in the Cleveland area. By 1899 Grdina married Antonia Bizeli and the pair had six children (Anthony, Frank, Catherine, James, Mary, and Joseph). He performed a variety of odd jobs in his local neighborhood before opening his own hardware store in 1904. Grdina found this concept of owning a business quite fulfilling, and decided to expand his entrepreneurial reach by becoming an undertaker and opening Grdina and Sons, Home Furnishers and Funeral Directors in 1928. Being a funeral director, Grdina got to know his community very well, and soon found himself in a variety of community-oriented projects.    Anton_Grdina.jpg

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Grdina helped organize two local Slovenian Banks (Slovenian Building and Loan Association which is now called St. Clair Savings Association, and North American Buildings and Savings Co. which was later renamed North American Bank). Grdina would remain president of North American Bank until his death. In addition to the financial sector, Grdina also helped in the reconstruction efforts following the EAST Ohio Co. Explosion and Fire in 1944. Grdina was part of an organization that bought the sites of destroyed homes and built new homes—over 16 in total! Grdina put forth $5000 out of pocket to aid in the restoration, not to mention countless hours of hard work and dedication. Grdina also served as treasurer of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation from 1926-1957.

Anton Grdina also made sure to stay true to his Yugoslavic roots by taking on several leadership roles in Yugoslavic groups including being president of the Yugoslav Cultural Garden, organizing the Grand Carnolian Slovenian Catholic Union, founding the National Slovene Catholic Union, and being a member in 16 Slovenian lodges. Grdina made history when he became the first U.S. Slovenian to receive the Third Order of the Yugoslav Crown, awarded to him by King Peter in 1938. However, the most notable achievement of Grdina was his knighthood in the Order of St. Gregory—he was inducted under papal decree and dedicated his life to the Catholic faith.

Grdina passed away on December 1, 1957. His dedication to his faith and heritage provides us all with a wonderful example on how to live our lives through dedication to Christ and others. Grdina’s legacy lives on through the projects he aided, as well as the Anton Grdina Investment School (part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District). Grdina is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, OH. (Section #9, Lot #4, Grave #4).

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Post written by Katie Karpinski

Ed Delahanty: Cleveland’s “big hit”

Cleveland is home to some of the best athletic teams in the country—in the past year alone Cleveland has broken records and collected new titles. Not only is Cleveland home to these amazing teams, but Cleveland is also home to some famous and notable athletes—such as Ed Delahanty. Delahanty’s story is one of great success– proving how hard work and dedication pay off. Keep reading to learn more about Ed Delahanty and his MLB career.

 

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“Big Ed” Delahanty

 

Born in Cleveland on October 30th, 1867, Delahanty had a rather normal childhood. Attending Central High School in Cleveland, and attending St. Joseph’s college, Delahanty stayed local for the majority of his early years. When he was 20 years old, Delahanty signed on to play with a minor league team in Wheeling, West Virginia. It wasn’t long before Delahanty was traded and by the end of 1887 he was sent to Philadelphia, PA to play with the Phillies.

In the spring of 1888, Delahanty officially began his career in the major leagues, starting on second base. Over the next five years Delahanty would begin to build his batting average, so much so that in 1892 he hit a ball so hard it broke the pitcher’s ankle! By 1893 Delahanty had a listed 19 home runs and 146 runners batted in—and his performance was only getting better.
It wasn’t until 1899 that Delahanty won his first batting title, boasting a .400 batting average for three years. However, this wasn’t the first notable achievement of Delahanty’s. In 1896 he became the second person to hit four home runs in a single game, and that same year Delahanty also hit 10 consecutive times while at bat.
Delahanty began to play for the Washington Senators in 1902, where he won another batting title—making him the only person to hold a batting title in both the National and American leagues. Delahanty would play for the Senators until his untimely death in 1903. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, OH (Section #10,Lot #135B ,Grave #7)

 

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Edward Delahanty’s Grave at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, OH.

 

At the time of his death, Delahanty had a recorded 101 home runs, 1464 runners batted in, 522 doubles, 185 triples, and 455 stolen bases. One can only imagine what he could have accomplished had he continued in his career!

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Frankie Yankovic: America’s Polka King

It’s no secret that Cleveland is home to a happening polka scene. Whether you’re at the Happy Dog café on polka night, or at your own neighborhood pub—polka music is a huge part of Cleveland culture. Several notable polka figures got their start in Cleveland, but most notable of all is Frankie Yankovic. Whether you’re familiar with the Polka King or not, keep reading to learn about this legendary Cleveland figure.

 

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Frankie Yankovic

 

Frankie Yankovic was born on July 28, 1915. Born in West Virginia, Yankovic’s parents were both Slovene immigrants, who met at a lumber camp. Yankovic’s father moved the family to Cleveland after experiencing some troubles with the local authorities. Frankie was still rather young at the time of the move, but this didn’t stop him from discovering a world that would eventually lead to his amazing fame.

Upon moving to Cleveland, Yankovic was introduced to brass bands; his main exposure happened to be during Slovenian festivals and social events. At the time, his mother had started to rent out rooms in their home to make some extra money. One of these tenants happened to be Max Zelodec who was a Slovenian performer. Yankovic had previously obtained an accordion, and Zelodec was able to give Yankovic a few lessons before moving out.

By the time Yankovic reached his teenage years in the 1920’s his talent was earning him money by playing at community events and social functions. Just ten years later in the 1930’s, Yankovic branched out into the radio industry, making appearances on a variety of networks such as WJAY and WGAR. Despite his rising popularity, Yankovic still had a hard time signing a record deal. In fact, Yankovic paid for his first few records out of pocket!

Yankovic married in 1940. It wasn’t long before the couple started having children, and with that came a tighter budget. Yankovic’s music was no longer able to support his growing family, and so he opened a tavern called the Yankovic Bar. It was very popular among musicians, and Yankovic wouldn’t sell it until 1948 when he would resurge his career on the accordion.

Many people don’t know that Yankovic enlisted in 1943 to assist in the war effort, all while producing albums! Fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, Yankovic got a severe case of frostbite that almost resulted in him losing his hands and feet—luckily that didn’t happen and he made a full recovery and was then assigned to entertain the armed forces. One audience even included General George Patton and his army!

In 1947 Yankovic finally started to gain some national attention. By 1949 he earned two platinum singles— “Just Because” and “Skirt Waltz.” Success followed Yankovic after that, and he would earn the title “America’s Polka King” after defeating Louis Bashell, Romy Gosz, Harold Loeffelmacher, and the Six Fat Dutchmen, Whoopee John Wilfahrt, and Lawrence Duchow in a Battle of the Bands in 1948.

 

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One of Yankovic’s albums

 

Yankovic would win his Grammy award for his album “70 Years of Hits” in 1986, and he was the first artist to win an award in the Polka category. Yankovic would later partner with Weird Al Yankovic—while the two are not related, both obtained large amounts of success and fame through their polka style music.

Frankie Yankovic passed away on October 14, 1998 due to heart failure. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, in Cleveland Ohio. (Section 114, Lot 507, Grave 9). Having sold 30 million records throughout his life, Yankovic is still the best known polka artist in the country. What a legacy to leave!

Information gathered from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Yankovic
Post written by Katie Karpinski

William Foster: Medal of Honor Recipient

American culture has always been drawn toward superheroes, just look at the recent movie releases. With all this hero hype, we sometimes forget that heroes aren’t just supernatural fictional characters, but very real people with very real stories. One such hero is William Foster, a U.S. Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Okinawa. Keep reading to learn more about Foster and his heroic actions.

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William Foster, Private 1st Class, United States Marine Corp.

 

Born on February 17th 1915 in Garfield Heights, OH, Foster attended a vocational high school where he majored in machinist’s subjects. Shortly after graduating, he was employed as a shaper at Cleveland’s Star Machine and Tool Company. He was also a member of the Ohio National Guard for six years before being enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve through the selective service program in April 1944.
After receiving basic training in San Diego and intensive combat training at Camp Pendleton, Foster was sent overseas to the Russell Islands where he rejoined his usual unit (Company K, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, 1st Marines Division). From there, Foster would find himself placed in one of the most legendary battles of WWII. On April 1st, 1945 (which happened to be Foster’s first anniversary of enlistment in the Marine Corps and Easter Sunday) Foster’s unit landed on the island of Okinawa, while the infamous battle was occurring. It was there that Foster would perform the act that would later earn him a Medal of Honor.
Foster and another marine were in the midst of an intense hand grenade duel with Japanese combats. Fighting from foxholes, an enemy grenade landed in Foster’s and fellow marines foxhole, and wasn’t within timely reach. Without any regard for his own safety, Foster leapt on the grenade, absorbing the full blow and saving his fellow solider. While Foster survived the initial impact, he passed away shortly after from wounds afflicted by the blast.
About a year later, on August 19th, 1946 the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Alexander A Vandegrift presented Foster’s parents with the Medal of Honor at Cleveland’s City Hall. Foster was originally buried at the 1st Marine Division Cemetery on Okinawa. However, in 1949 his remains were recovered and re interred in Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, OH (Section 60, Lot 53, Grave 2) next to fellow Medal of Honor recipient John R Towle. (Read more about Towle here)
Being only 30 years old at the time of his death, Foster’s legacy lives on. One can see his name around the city of Garfield Heights, and a branch of the Garfield Heights public school system carries his name sake. It’s important to remember fallen heroes such as Foster, who gave everything for their country.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski
Information gathered from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_A._Foster

Joseph Haworth: Early American Actor

America is enamored with celebrities. We read magazines to keep up with their lives, follow them on Facebook, and buy products that they endorse. However, things weren’t always this way. Back in the early 1800’s, theater was considered “unholy” and was seen as a rather scandalous business. Being an actor didn’t come with the praise and frills that we see today, making it hard for thespians to make a living in the industry. However, as the 1850’s approached and plays like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, a play which supported Christian abolitionist teaching, the theater began to regain some of its lost reputation. This slight rise in theatrical popularity was exactly what a young Joseph Haworth needed to make his first leap into the theater industry.
Born in 1855 to Benjamin and Martha Haworth, Joseph was the oldest of the five Haworth children. By 1865, the family experienced several dramatic changes. The Civil War ended; however, Benjamin Haworth, a surveyor for the Union Army, did not live to see this new era as he died in a Confederate prison camp shortly before the cease-fire. For young Joseph, this resulted in him leaving school to provide for his family. The family moved to Cleveland, OH, where Joseph found a job working in a newspaper office. While Joseph was thankful for the position, his true passion was the theater.

 

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Portrait of Joseph Haworth;  Photo Credit

 

Earlier in 1865, Joseph saw his very first theatrical performance, “The Count of Monte Cristo.” This experience instantly captivated Joseph, and when he moved to Cleveland he pursued several different acting opportunities. Being so young and having minimal experience, he was turned down time and time again. Haworth didn’t let his denial squelch his love of entertaining though. After a day’s work at the newspaper office, Haworth was often invited to neighbors’ homes to tell interesting stories and perform short skits. He gained local recognition as an amateur entertainer. These visits paid off, as when Haworth was 18 years old he was finally offered a position at the Academy of Music in Cleveland, which was one of the most respected theater companies in the nation at the time. The gig was minor; Haworth was only to recite a few pieces of poetry. But these few poetry readings were enough to land Haworth favorable reviews in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and soon Haworth worked his way up to acting with several well-known stars at the time such as Fanny Januschek, Anna Dickinson, Lawrence Barrett, and Edwin Booth.

On May 10th, 1878 at just 22 years old, Haworth played the title role in “Hamlet”. His performance was praised by the Plain Dealer which said, “No young actor could have felt more pride in the appreciation of his abilities and merits than Joseph S. Haworth last evening.” Shortly after this newsworthy performance, Haworth decided to leave the Academy (now called the Euclid Avenue Opera House) and joined the Boston Museum Acting Company, which was known the be the finest acting company in the country. Haworth had a growing national presence by the time he moved to Boston, and his time there was one of great growth. He continued to land significant roles and his popularity steadily grew. Eventually, he was the offered the position as Lead Actor, but turned it down to pursue opportunities in New York City.

 

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Playbill from one of Haworth’s roles as supporting actor; Photo Credit 

 

While in New York, Haworth met John McCullough; a well-known actor and future mentor for Haworth. The two became like father and son, McCullough always insisting that Haworth pursue artistic passions instead of commercial gains. The two acted in several productions together before McCullough passed away in 1884. Even before McCullough’s passing, Haworth had landed several solo roles, and his name appeared often in the New York Times. With his raising star power, and loss of his very close mentor, Haworth decided to move back to Cleveland to recoup in 1895. He didn’t reenter the theater scene until 1896 when he moved around the country in a series of Shakespearean plays. Towards the end of 1886, Haworth opened at the New York Grand Opera House in a performance of “Hoodman Blind.” As if Haworth wasn’t already famous, this performance heightened his fame even more, making him one of the hottest young stars in the country.

With the emergence of Broadway in the 1900’s, Haworth would continue to act for a few years before dying of congestive heart failure on April 30th, 1903. It’s speculated that this heart failure was brought on by over-exertion, something that is all too common among entertainers. Haworth is buried at St. John Cemetery, in Cleveland, OH. (Section 11, Level 3, Lot 1 PT 5)

Post written by Katie Karpinski

George Voinovich: A faith-filled political career

Cleveland-pride has been at an all-time high lately. With our excelling athletic teams, quality music halls, and growing cultural scene– we Clevelanders have plenty to celebrate! However, we often forget the leaders that helped Cleveland rediscover itself and emerge as the thriving city that it is today. George Voinovich, who served as mayor, governor, and senator was one of the most impactful leaders in Cleveland history. Keep reading to learn more about Voinovich and how his time as mayor changed Cleveland history forever.

 

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Senator George Voinovich

 

Born on July 15, 1936 in Cleveland, Voinovich was the oldest of six children. His father, George Voinovich, and mother, Josephine Voinovich, raised their children in the Collinwood neighborhood. A devout Catholic family, Voinovich was a member of Holy Cross parish in Euclid, OH (now called Our Lady of the Lake) where he remained to be a lifelong member. Graduating from Collinwood High School in 1954, Voinovich continued his education by attending Ohio University where he earned his degree in Government. In 1961, Voinovich received his law degree from The Ohio State University. After receiving his law degree, it didn’t take Voinovich long to begin his 46-year tenure as a public servant.

Take a deep breath and get ready for this packed resume:
Starting in 1963, Voinovich served as Assistant Attorney General of Ohio; 1967 he served in the Ohio House of Representatives; 1976 he served as County Auditor of Cuyahoga County; 1978 he was elected as Lieutenant Governor of Ohio. All are quite notable achievements, but Voinovich was merely beginning his career. In 1979 Voinovich was elected as the 54th Mayor of Cleveland, a position that would launch Voinovich’s leadership to new heights.

Voinovich’s appointment as mayor occurred just as Cleveland had reached its lowest point in years (i.e. the burning Cuyahoga river). Cleveland was often compared to Detroit and mocked for being the only major city at the time to file for bankruptcy. Needless to say—Voinovich had his hands full! Now, while Voinovich was considered a very shy and reserved politician, he fought this negative view of Cleveland with vigor, going to great lengths and spending time strategizing how to reposition Cleveland as an evolving city. Voinovich worked closely with local business owners, Cleveland citizens, as well as the Governor of Ohio at the time, James Rhodes, to spark what would later be called the “Urban Renaissance.” Numerous buildings and new businesses sprouted up, city debt was reduced, and public satisfaction sky-rocketed. All of this resulted in numerous nominations and awards for Cleveland, ranging from small neighborhood acknowledgements to national awards such as the National Civic League’s All-American City Award (won by Cleveland three years in a row.) Voinovich was credited for much of this improvement, so it came as no surprise when he was nominated for Governor in 1990.

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Senator George Voinovich looks over items on display from the Voinovich collection along with family members after the dedication of the George V. Voinovich Seminar Room and senatorial papers collection on Saturday morning, October 1, 2011 on the fifth floor of Alden Library. (Photo by Patrick Traylor/Ohio University Libraries)

After winning his seat as governor of Ohio in 1990, Voinovich was able to take the momentum he gained in Cleveland and applied it to the state of Ohio as a whole. During his time as governor, unemployment fell to a 25-year low, and a 1.5 billion state-wide deficit was recovered. Voinovich served two terms as governor, resulting in Ohio (much like Cleveland previously) to be granted several awards and recognitions. Due to term limits, Voinovich ended his time as governor in 1998, when he turned his attention to running for an open U. S. Senate position.

Needless to say, Voinovich had the experience and approval ratings to make his election to a Senate seat rather smooth. His first term began in 1999 and when it became time for him to run for reelection in 2004, he defeated his opponent by a landslide, winning all 88 counties in Ohio and breaking the record for the highest amount of votes in U.S Senate race in Ohio at 3.5 million. During his time as a U.S. Senator, Voinovich served on countless committees, and helped passed legislation on various topics regarding national security, climate change, healthcare, and national budgeting.

 

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Voinovich introducing President George W. Bush during one of Bush’s presidential campaign rallies. 

 

FUN FACT: Voinovich is one of only two people to have served as the Mayor of Cleveland, Governor of Ohio, and a United States Senator. The other is Frank Lausche. Both men were devout Catholics and are buried in the Cleveland Catholic cemeteries. Read about Frank Lausche here.

Many applaud Voinovich for his selfless political nature, as he always put the needs of voters above his own political intentions. Instead of following a political party, Voinovich was considered rather moderate, and was documented working with both Democrats and Republicans in an effort to do what was best for the American people, progressing the country as a whole. After retiring from the Senate in 2010, Voinovich took time to spend with his family. On June 12th, 2016 Voinovich passed away in his sleep, and he was buried at All Souls Cemetery in Chardon, OH after family and friends celebrated Mass at his home parish, Our Lady of the Lake in Euclid. Several notable figures attended the funeral, including Senator Rob Portman, Mayor Frank Jackson, and U.S. Representative Tim Ryan.

Voinovich is a special example of someone who was able to not only balance his career and his faith, but was able to incorporate his faith into his career. His strong passion for making this country a better place was constantly guided by his moral principles founded upon his Catholic faith. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind!

 

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Visit Senator Voinovich’s Grave here

 

John R. Towle: A young hero

Our country is lucky enough to have thousands of people volunteer and risk their lives every day, putting the priority of the country above their own. As a country, we have witnessed two World Wars, and countless other battles and conflicts. With thousands of films, TV shows, and books about these wars, and the people that fought in them, sometimes we forget that each one of those people had a life before their military service. Even more so, we forget that so many young people have lost their lives serving their country.

John R. Towle was born in Cleveland on October 19th, 1924. Growing up on E.73rd street, Towle attended St. Agnes school in his younger years. In 1943 Towle decided to enlist in the United States Military as a member of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He served in a variety of countries during his service, including South Africa and Italy. However, Towle was in the Netherlands when he would perform the act that would later earn him a Medal of Honor.

 

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John R. Towle’s official military picture;  Photo Credit

 

 

 

It’s September 21st, 1944. Towle is now 19 years old and he and his division were serving in Oosterhout, Holland. US forces were in the process of claiming the strategic position at the Nijmegen bridgehead, which was currently occupied by German forces. With a strong enemy force, and limited defensive options, Towle decided to leave the safety of his foxhole and confront the enemy head on. Using his rocket launcher, Towle was able to hit two enemy tanks, and prevent them from advancing further. Towle then proceeded to enter a nearby house which 9 Germans had been using as a strategic point and continued to secure the building with no additional help.
Upon exiting the house, Towle retreated to another position to take another shot at the enemy tanks, where he was fatally struck by a mortar shell. Towle’s actions were nothing short of being absolutely heroic, and six months after his death he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. He was buried back in his hometown of Cleveland, in Calvary Cemetery.

 

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U.S. Navy ship named after John R. Towle

 

Towle’s story is not only one of pure dedication and self-sacrifice to one’s sacrifice to one’s country, and deserves proper remembrance and prayer.

 

 

Information gathered from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_R._Towle

For more information click here.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski