Co-Valedictorian of her class, Kathy remembers Dale Richmond’s Senior Government Day as one of her most influential experiences at Chagrin Falls High School. She became active in student government at Hiram College, where she became the first female senator elected. Enroute to an M.S. degree in special education from Eastern Montana College in 1980 and an Ed.D. in adult and higher education from Montana State University in 1993, Dr. Kelker has influenced thousands of families. She is Executive Director and Co-Founder of Parents, Let’s Unite For Kids (PLUK), a parent training and information center which, since 1984, has imparted information about assistive technology to consumers and professionals in the education, rehabilitation and medical fields. Kathy is the author of Taking Charge: A Handbook for Parents of Children with Emotional Handicaps. She has received several awards for her work, including the Development Disabilities Service Award for her significant contributions to the quality of life for the disabled citizens of her state, and the Professional of the Year Award from the Montana Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children.
Elizabeth Rodgers was born in Chagrin Falls and has devoted much of her life’s work to the historical preservation of her birthplace. A passionate overseer of Village Council proceedings, she authored the book, CHAGRIN : : . Whence the Name? Her writings have painstakingly detailed the history of the Village of Chagrin Falls, including the origin of its name. Dr. Rodger’s remarkable energy and considerable talents resulted in numerous professional accomplishments. In 1936, she earned a Ph.D. in physical education from Columbia University. She was a high school teacher and professor at several colleges, including Madison College in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the University of Colorado, and State Teachers College in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Much of her research in physical education has been documented in journal articles. More than 60 years ago, she developed the first standardized achievement tests for athletic skills and information. While a student at Chagrin Falls High School, Elizabeth Rodgers excelled in both academics and athletics. She was an outstanding basketball player and track and field athlete. For many years, she held the school record for the softball throw.
Much of the growth and improvements at Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Center in Chesterland can be traced to the leadership of its first superintendent, George Clemens. A graduate of Hiram College and Kent State University, he was an elementary schoolteacher in Chagrin Falls for three years before embarking on a long career in special education. In 1965, he was appointed Director of Retarded Childrens Program in Geauga County. During that same year, Metzenbaum Opportunity School opened its doors to 59 children, and George was named as its first superintendent. During his tenure, Metzenbaum Sheltered Industries came into existence. Four residential houses and a new pavilion and greenhouse were also constructed. He was instrumental in beginning the Middlefield Care Center, an Amish birthing center. But, of course, it is his former students and staff members who remember him fondly. George’s best remembrance of Chagrin is of all the people who helped him with his education. As a student at CFHS, he was very active in athletics, captaining the 1939 football team. In 1987, he retired from education after serving 22 years as Metzenbaum’s superintendent. Today, he volunteers at Metzenbaum and welcomes its children to his farm during field trips.
A former sailor in the United States Navy, Richard Draz weaved his love of people, water, and physical education into a coaching career paralleled by few. A graduate of Kent State University, he has been referred to as “a living legend” in the swimming and water polo circles of southern California. From 1962 until 1986, he was the head swimming coach at Crawford High School in San Diego. He has received numerous awards. In 1986, the National High School Athletic Association presented him the “National Coach of the Year” award for being the top swimming coach in the United States for that year. In 1990, the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association honored him with the “National Outstanding Service” award. He is listed in the book, America’s Greatest Coaches, by Michael Koehler. His dual meet record at Crawford in boys swimming was 253-38-1, which included 21 undefeated league championships. His boys’ water polo teams were 334-106-1, which included 13 league titles. Since 1986, he has been the head swimming coach and head water polo coach at San Diego Mesa College. Richard remembers the caring and supportive attitude the Chagrin teachers had for their students, qualities which he has carried proudly as a teacher-coach in his adopted homeland.
When she was a student at Chagrin Falls High School, Joanne Griffith worked on the school newspaper, The Echo. Today, she is still working on a newspaper — her own. After a two-year stint as a reporter for a suburban newspaper in Worcester, Massachusetts, Joanne founded the Holden Landmark, in the basement of her home in Holden, Massachusetts in 1976. Her weekly newspaper now serves 7300 paid subscribers in five towns across the Wachusett region of the state. As editor and publisher of The Landmark, her staff has garnered many awards from the New England Press Association and the Massachusetts Press Association. Included were a second place award for General Excellence in 1989, and first place awards for Editorial Writing in 1985, 1988, and 1992. She is also President and Treasurer of The Holden Landmark Corporation. In 1994, Joanne was a finalist for the Business Person of the Year award from the New England Women Business Owners. This year, she was appointed to the board of directors of the New England Press Association.
David Farris traces his success to the supportive atmosphere of the Chagrin Falls School System. Much involved in athletics and drama during his years at CFHS, his successes have reached dramatic proportions. Since 1987, he has been Chief Operating Officer of Beneficial Corporation, a $15 billion, New York Stock Exchange-listed financial services holding company. He is also President and Chief Executive Officer of Beneficial Management Corporation, a subsidiary. Subsidiaries of the company provide financial services through their various consumer-finance, banking, and insurance operations located throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Ireland. A graduate of the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Graduate School of Business, he is a director and past president of the National Home Equity Mortgage Association. He is a chairman of the New Jersey Ballet Company, and also chairman and a trustee of CHEMcare, a Westfield, N.J. support group for cancer patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatment. After being graduated from CFHS, David stayed close to home for a while. He earned his undergraduate degree in business from Kent State University, and he was president of the Chagrin Valley Jaycees. He is currently a member of the board of directors of Kent State University Foundation.
Mexico City is a long way from Chagrin Falls Village, but one of this capital city’s residents has not forgotten the dedication and commitment of his former teachers in Chagrin Falls Schools. In 1994, Lee Crawford was awarded the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor that the Mexican Federal Government bestows upon foreign individuals. He was the first U.S. citizen to receive the award since 1936. For ten years, he was director of Packard Electric’s Mexico West Operations. Lee was lauded for his efforts with the people, the environment, and the community. He serves on the board of directors for the United Way of Mexico, and in 1994 was named “International Man of the Year” by United Way. He is currently in charge of the Delphi Components Group of General Motors in Mexico, which includes 48 manufacturing facilities, employing more than 65,000 people. He began his GM career at Packard Electric following graduation from Kent State University, where he studied architecture and Pre-law. Formerly a resident of El Paso, Texas, Lee recently moved to Mexico City.