Garrettsville – A select but cheerful crowd was in attendance at the James A. Garfield Schools Hall of Fame celebration on Saturday, April 26, 2014. The Middle School Jazz Band and the High School Jazz Band provided preprandial (Look it up; it means “before a meal”) musical selections for everyone’s listening pleasure and a number of high school athletes were on hand to assist with serving and clean-up. Joe Malmisur ably handled the duties of master of ceremonies. Sheri Johnson and Annette Carlisle were the organizers of the event.
The all-star line-up included :
Faber (Rusty) Kearney – Introduced by his old friend and classmate (’76) Joe Malmisur, this Garfield grad has made it a point to be all about serving. After finishing high school— football letter-winner, National Honor Society, Academic Challenge team, the usual—Rusty went on to serve in the U.S. Navy, gain a degree in nuclear technology, advance in recognition and respect in the nuclear industry(Currently with Excelon Corp.) and volunteer in community organizations(e.g. Big Brothers and Sisters) wherever he and his family have resided. Applause rose spontaneously when he shared the fact that his kids are currently on active duty in the U.S. military. The appropriate quote might be, “We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.”(Winston Churchill)
Harry Kraft – Honored for his service to the district, Harry recounted some of his best moments in coaching, predominantly in track and field. He credited much of his success to the fact that he was privileged to be on the scene when a strong and dedicated cohort of young people was present in the system. His introducer, Matt Pfleger, was one of these; he and his brother, current athletic director, Jim Pfleger, testified to Coach Kraft’s service as a mentor and role model. Records set and good times were part of the reminiscences, heads nodded . The coach acknowledged the part played by a wife who allowed a prolonged engagement with adolescence and adolescents. As an 80th birthday gift, this was a winner.
Nick Rogers – Having traveled up from Texas, where he is a well-regarded and successful director of recruiting at Medestar in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, proficient in staffing and recruiting skills, Nick was introduced by his friend and nominator , Jamie Ward, sports writer with the Geauga County Maple Leaf. This brought forth a whole litany of Nick’s accomplishments on courts and fields, and the revelation that he had won an additional letter in baseball, playing on the fly, as it were, when the boys on the diamond fell below required numbers. Nick was an outstanding performer from an early age and a leader always , an example for athletes across the spectrum–boys, girls, older players, younger teammates. He was the straw that stirred the brew. Nick graciously acknowledged the influences on his life, beginning with his parents, who were always supportive, through Coach Bennett and Coach Morgan and other families which were part of his life.
Jeremy Vecchio, the fourth honoree, was unable to attend.
Socializing and tours of the updated, refurbished, renewed and remodeled high school were also a popular part of the evening.