A classic car show and a live performance of a Dixieland band set the stage for
the third annual Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame induction ceremony
held Sunday, June 25, 2000. Honorees from all fields of endeavor inducted this
year were Anthony “Tony” Cipriani of Wellsburg, W.Va.; Clarence “Bevo”
Francis of Highlandtown, Ohio; Anthony “Tony” Gentile of Wintersville; Ohio;
Harry D. McConville of East Liverpool, Ohio; and Frances Jane Shaffer, M.D., of
Toronto, Ohio. Posthumous honors were given to Lt. Col. Mark C. McGeehan and
John Charles “J.C.” Williams.
Prior to the induction ceremony, the inductees, their family and friends, were feted with a private reception in their honor at the Landora, located in the side entrance of the historic Traveler’s Hotel.
The inductees were then directed to the outdoor stage erected in front of the Hall of Fame on Fifth Street, which was closed to vehicular traffic. U.S. Representative James A. Traficant, who also is a member of the 1998 inaugural class of Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame inductees, served as master of ceremonies for the event, attended by nearly 200.
Coach Lou Holtz was on hand to present the inductee plaques and offer remarks.
Festivities continued at a gala party held at the Serbian-American Cultural Center in Weirton, where the inductees were again recognized and a video presentation of their lives was shown. WTOV-9 Sports Director Bill Phillips and Hall of Fame President Frank C. Dawson shared master of ceremonies duties.
Celebrity guests on hand at the gala party were Coach Holtz, Skip Holtz, Jerome Bettis, Steve Beuerlein, Reggie Jackson and Tony Rice.
Also recognized at the event were 2000 and 1999 Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame Life Improvement Scholarship recipients who were in attendance.
Silent and live auction opportunities were available.
Biographical information and photographs of this year’s inductees follow.
(click on photos to enlarge)
Men like Anthony J. "Tony" Cipriani Sr. have long been the backbones of America's hometowns. A lifelong resident of Brooke County, Tony is a native of Follansbee and a product of the Follansbee school system.
Like most men of the industrial Upper Ohio Valley, Tony logged many hours in the mill working at Follansbee Bros. Co. (later Follansbee Steel) for nearly four years, before enlisting in the U.S. Army to serve his country.
Adept had handling the challenges of military life, Tony was encouraged to apply for officer candidates' school. He was sent to infantry school at Fort Benning, Ga., and after completing the course, was commissioned as a second lieutenant, infantry, in June 1942. He was a participant in the invasion of North Africa, before being taken prisoner at El Guettar, Tunisia, and held as a Prisoner of War for more than two years. His actions in service to his country earned him several military medals including a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.
After the war, Tony returned home and married Rose M. Cipolletti of Wellsburg. They are the parents of Anthony Jr., George, William, Christopher, Susan Grimm and Mary Paull. They have 10 grandchildren.
In 1948 Tony enrolled at DeVry Tech in Chicago, graduating in 1949 from its television and radio school. He returned to Wellsburg and opened Community Hardware, later known as Community TV. He remained in business for himself for 40 years.
All the while running a business, Tony also served the Wellsburg community as city clerk for two terms, a member of the planning commission and mayor for two-terms. His dogged determination as mayor helped deliver Wellsburg from a financial crisis in the early 1980s.
Under his mayoral leadership, Wellsburg also gained regional and national attention through its designation on the Interior Department's list of Historic Places and through its participation in the Bayer Wellness Program, which brought actor John Forsythe to the town's streets.
Tony's service to community extended to civic projects, as well, ranging from assisting with Wellsburg's legendary Fourth of July celebrations, to volunteering at the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce, being a member of the Brook County RSVP and serving as chairman of the Friends of Brooke County and the Brooke County Historical Museum Board.
His interest in the town's history propelled him to write the book, Wellsburg, West Virginia 1791-1991, and to develop the Wellsburg Historical Walking Tour in 1996.
He remains active in St. John's Catholic Church of Wellsburg and its choir, the Kiwanis Club, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Elks, Knights of Columbus and Garibaldi Lodge.
The recipient of numerous awards including the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce's "Man of the Year," the Kiwanis Distinguished Service Award and the Kiwanis Legion of Honor for 30 years' service, Tony can be counted on to help when his community calls.
Clarence 'Bevo' Francis
Whether on the battlefield or testifying before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on behalf of the coal-mining industry, Anthony "Tony" Gentile brought grit, determination and integrity to the table.
Born in Aquila, Italy, in 1920 Gentile immigrated to the United States when he was 8 years old. He attended Youngstown State University for two and a half years before serving with the U.S. Army from January 1942 until October 1945. In his duty to country Tony was hit by enemy fire twice, resulting in him being awarded a Purple Heart and a Silver Star for his courage, devotion to duty and gallantry in action.
For nearly six months, he served as the Military Governor of Shongau, Germany, near the Austrian border, where he was responsible for more than 2,000 displaced people of 18 nationalities, who were released from concentration camps.
Upon his return home, Tony entered business first as a co-owner of a Bloomingdale, Ohio, restaurant. He entered the coal-mining industry in 1952, when he became the assistant to the president of Huberta Coal Company. He continued to climb within the mining industry working his way up from general manager of Half Moon Coal Company of Weirton to general manager, president and finally chairman of the board of Ohio River Collieries Company.
His knowledge and understanding of the coal-mining industry proved valuable during his term as chairman of the Mining and Reclamation Council of America in Washington, D.C, which he completed in March 1982. In 1965, he traveled to nine countries in Europe with Ohio Governor James Rhodes on a trade mission and was honored with an Executive Order of Ohio Commodore. In 1967, he was one of 42 American delegates to the Fifth International Mining Congress held in the Soviet Union in Moscow and Kiev and was invited to the Kremlin for dinner and a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet. He frequently is called upon as spokesman for the industry.
In addition to his involvement in the coal-mining industry, Tony also has been a partner in a few development companies and has served in an office capacity in a number of other business endeavors, earning him recognition and respect in the business world in the United States and abroad.
The recipient of numerous awards, Tony has been recognized as "Citizen of the Year" by the Wintersville Chamber of Commerce, and he was awarded an honorary "doctor of humane letters" degree by Franciscan University of Steubenville. In 1999, he was the recipient of the Macedonia Visionary Award.
An ardent supporter of the arts, Tony is, himself, a painter of many works.
He and the former Nina A. DiScipio have been married 56 years and are the parents of four children, Robert Gentile, Anita G. Rice, Rita G. Dutton and Thomas G. Gentile. He and his wife reside in Wintersville.
With his warm smile, friendly handshake and kind word for everyone with whom he comes in contact, Harry D. McConville would be considered East Liverpool's unarguable, if unofficial, ambassador of good will for the battle of the 21st century.
Beneath his genuine, easy-going personality, however, there beats the courageous heart of a U.S. Marine who participated in numerous beach landings and battles during World War II. Of the many battles in which he took part, perhaps the most memorable is the Aug. 7, 1942 invasion of Guadalcanal. Harry was recently asked to write his recollections of the battle for a book being published about the Marine Corps Second Battalion, First Division of which he was a member.
The East Liverpool native, born Dec. 29, 1910 to Frank A. and Mary Elizabeth McConville, returned to his hometown following the war and joined the Internal Revenue Service. He was a collection agent with the IRS for more than 30 years, retiring in 1976. He was recognized by the government agency in 1972 when he was one of only two recipients of the IRS' rarely presented Distinguished Service Award.
Almost immediately upon his retirement, Harry became a special volunteer assistant to U.S. Rep. Douglas Applegate, maintaining the congressman's office in East Liverpool. Since Applegate's retirement, Harry has continued his volunteer work in the East Liverpool office of James A. Traficant, Jr.
A standout athlete in football and basketball at East Liverpool High School, the 1930 ELHS grad is an avid gardener and outdoorsman, enjoying the natural surroundings of his longtime Irish Ridge Road residence.
Long a proponent of academics, Harry served on the East Liverpool Board of Education during the 1960s, playing an important role in the passage of bond issues that provided the district with North Elementary School and the high school campus on Maine Boulevard. He also worked to establish a branch campus of Kent State University in East Liverpool. After the successful effort, he served as chairman of the local KSU-EL Campus Advisory Board for 20 years. He was bestowed with the Kent State University Distinguished Service Award, the highest recognition paid to a non-employee.
Tribute also was paid him at a special evening held in his honor Feb. 22, 1986, in which more than 400 turned out to recognize him for his many efforts on behalf of education and community. He also has been recognized as a "distinguished alumni" of the East Liverpool High School Alumni Association.
A world traveler who has visited every continent and more than 137 countries, he is an ardent Ohio State Buckeye fan and was honored March 21, 2000 with an official proclamation by the Congress of the United States, recognizing his meritorious service to community.
A selfless man of faith and family, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mark C. McGeehan died June 24, 1994 protecting those under his command from a rogue senior pilot.
Lt. Col. McGeehan's willingness to give the last full measure of his life to spare others is testimony of his leadership and commitment to do right.
Born in East Liverpool Jan. 10, 1956, McGeehan was reared in Chester, one of nine children. Upon graduation from Oak Glen High School in 1974, he attended the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he received his commission in 1978. His professional military education also included Squadron Officer School, where he was a distinguished graduate, and Air and Command and Staff College.
A senior pilot and instructor with more than 31,000 flying hours, Lt. Col. McGeehan advanced through the ranks, serving in such capacities as aide-de-camp to the commander; a faculty member of Air Command and Staff College, where he was chief of the military history and doctrine branch; operations officer of the 325th Squadron; and finally, commander of the 325th Bomb Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base.
It was while serving as commander, that Lt. Col. McGeehan faced a challenging dilemma. After receiving numerous complaints from his junior aircrews about the unsafe flying habits of one of the wing's senior pilots not under his command, McGeehan took evidence of the maverick pilot's recklessness to the wing leadership, using the appropriate chain of command, and requested the pilot be grounded. Lt. Col. McGeehan's request was denied.
With the denial, McGeehan took the remaining option available to protect his pilots and order that on one under his command was to fly with the maverick pilot. If a co-pilot was needed, McGeehan said that he would go.
On June 24, 1994 in preparation for an air show Lt. Col. McGeehan was co-piloting a B-52H bomber when the rogue pilot exceeded flight restrictions for the craft. The bomber sideslipped into the ground, killing everyone on board, the pilot, two crewmembers and Lt. Col. McGeehan.
The decorated lieutenant colonel who was active as a Boy Scout leader, Little League Coach and the Catholic Church, left behind his sons, Patrick, Brendan and Collin, and his wife, Jodie.
Ironically, just weeks before his death as Lt. Col. McGeehan was preparing to hand over the unit flag of the 325th Bomb Squadron for deactivation on July 1, he wrote in an article that was printed June 10, 1994 in the military publication Strikehawk:
"When we think of those who went before us, we should do so with humility, respecting their great personal sacrifice. When we honor our heritage and those with whom we share a common bond and purpose, we are all enriched, and our lives are made a little more worth living."
For 50 years many in the Toronto, Ohio, community have willingly placed their health and wellbeing in the capable hands of physician Jane Shaffer, who prefers to do her work with out fanfare or in the glare of the spotlight.
Born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Shaffer's family moved to Toronto, where she attended school, graduating from Toronto High School.
Following graduation, she attended the University of California at Berkeley, where she received a bachelor of arts degree. She earned her medical degree at the University of California at San Francisco. She was one of only 10 women in her medical school class of 1943.
Dr. Shaffer served her internship at the University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y. She served her residency at the University of California Hospital in San Francisco, Western Reserve University Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland and Permanente Foundation Hospital in Oakland, Calif.
After completing her residency, Dr. Shaffer returned to Toronto and established her practice in 1950. In the 50 years since opening her practice, Dr. Shaffer has cared for many Toronto area residents, seeing in some cases three and four generations of patients. Likewise, until she gave up delivering babies in 1988, she helped bring hundreds of infants into the world. Those infants were "her" babies. Her love for infants and children prompted her to open, in addition to her practice, a well-child clinic in 1956, which she continues to operate.
In addition to the medical care she has provided to community, Dr. Shaffer also has been a member of several boards that have benefited Jefferson County residents. She served on the Toronto Board of Education for 20 years, and in November 1974, she was one of only five school board members statewide to be named to an "All Ohio Board of Education." She was a member of the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School Board from planning to completion and operation of the facility. Appointed by the Jefferson County Probate Court to the 169 Board of Mental Retardation, Dr. Shaffer served more than 13 years, during which time the School of Bright Promise was developed and built. Also the board established six residential homes for retarded citizens of Jefferson County, which were named Shaffer Plaza in her honor.
The reluctant recipient of public recognition for her efforts, Shaffer has received "Citizen of the Year" honors by the Toronto Chamber of Commerce and Quinn A.M.E. Church. She also was honored for 50 years of practice by the Jefferson County Medical Society and named Trinity Health System's "Woman of the Year." She was featured in a 1998 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about female physicians making a difference in the lives of their patients.
When she's not seeing patients, Dr. Shaffer may be found tending to her flower garden or singing in the choir at the First United Presbyterian Church of Toronto, where she is a longtime member.
Thriving on the practice of medicine, Shaffer vows that as long as she's having fun, she'll continue doing what she loves - caring for others.
Nearly 64 years after his death, the contributions and compassion of Welsh immigrant John Charles "J.C." Williams continue to grace communities on both sides of the Atlantic.
Born in Kidwelly, Wales, in 1876, the bright, energetic and enterprising J.C. or "Jack," as he sometimes was called, began school when he was just 3 years old. His family moved to Loughor, Wales, when his father, Thomas, a pioneer of the tinplate trade was appointed mill boss at the Yspitty works.
Despite his father's position, the family was of modest income, and J.C. left school at 13 to work in the plant and help support the family. Not long after his father was sent to supervise a tinplate project in Piombino, Italy, he sent for J.C. to join him. Upon his return from Italy, J.C. announced his intention to journey solo to the United States.
He arrived in Wheeling, W.Va., at age 21, but stayed only briefly moving from job to job at mills in Indiana and Michigan before finally returning to the Tri-State at U.S. Steel's Monessen plant in 1903. There, he met Ernest T. Weir, the plant's general manager born in Pittsburgh in 1875, a son of Irish immigrants.
The two quickly became friends, and later in 1905 when Weir and James R. Phillips, a top U.S. Steel salesman, decided to enter business for themselves purchasing the Jackson Sheet and Tin Plate Co. in Clarksburg, W.Va., J.C. joined the venture. The company was renamed Phillips Sheet and Plate Co.
J.C.'s knowledge and experience soon proved helpful as he quickly identified and corrected flaws in the mill's design. When after just one month's operation Phillips was killed in a train wreck, J.C. assumed responsibility of day-to-day operations of the plant. By 1908 the Clarksburg plant was turning a profit but was greatly hampered by its lack of a reliable water source and poor geographical location for shipping its product.
Weir soon found a better location near Holliday Cove, which was a part of Weirton, which was allowed the company to grow and gradually acquire other plants, which eventually grew into Weirton Steel. Throughout that growth, J.C. had taken on more and more responsibility, and in 1929, he was named president of Weirton Steel.
As he continued to thrive and achieve success in the industrial world, J.C. took a more benevolent role in both his adopted community, the Weirton-Steubenville area, and at home in Wales, where he often visited. He established two trusts, one in Wales, and one in Weirton, that benefited the people of his homeland and his adopted Weirton-Steubenville "home" upon the death of his siblings and spouse.
His trusts have assisted countless hundreds on both sides of the Atlantic, academically, physically, medically and spiritually not only through scholarships, but also through the libraries, hospitals, colleges, community centers, stadiums, pools and citadels his trust has helped to build over the years.
The beautiful Williams Country Club in Weirton, W.Va., which J.C.'s sponsorship helped develop and build, remains a lasting tribute to the man whose compassion and concern for his fellow man reverberates in this Upper Ohio Valley today.
McCusker was presented The Hall of Fame's first Distinguished American
Award in recognition of his many contributions to the organization.
© Copyright 2000 Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame
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