Six graduates recognized as 2019 Waite Distinguished Alumni

Press Staff Writer

        The Morrison R. Waite High School Alumni Association recognized six Distinguished Alumni at the annual Purple and Gold Celebration, held April 13. They include:
        • Harry Cummins III, the oldest of seven children, was born Dec. 27, 1955 to Harry and Ann Cummins. He attended East Side Central Elementary School where he was active in many sports, including baseball, basketball, football, track and volleyball.
        Throughout his four years at Waite High School, he played and earned varsity letters in basketball and baseball.
        Following graduation in the spring of 1975, Cummins continued his involvement is sports, playing baseball, competing in power lifting, bodybuilding and boxing. He won numerous awards and become professionally licensed as a boxing promoter, boxing matchmaker and boxing trainer. As a sports promoter, he amassed more than 35 years of experience in promoting bodybuilding, power lifting and amateur boxing competitions.
        Cummings founded and became executive director of the International Boxing Club in 1998. The non-profit organization provides a safe place for young people to go, and its mission is to empower disadvantaged youth in the greater Toledo area to succeed in life.
        In 2014, IBC began a modified, non-contact boxing program designed especially for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Knock Out Parkinson’s Disease (KOPD) is offered in conjunction with the University of Toledo and the UT Medical Center. There is no cost to participate in the program.
        For seven years, Cummins has assisted the Victory Center Cancer Foundation with fundraising by promoting dinner boxing events fundraisers. Sen. Teresa Fedor honored him as one of Ohio’s finest citizens in 2008. He also received the Juvenile Justice Award that same year. In 2013, Toledo City Council recognized him for his dedication and leadership in the community. CBS Evening News recognized Cummins for his devotion and service by sharing his story nationwide on its evening newscast in 2017.
        After 32 years of service, Cummins retired from General Motors. While employed at GM, he served on a Wellness Committee to improve the health of employees.
        Cummins is the father of two daughters, Tabitha and Teagan, and the grandfather of Tessa, Bryson and Brynlee. He currently lives in Toledo with is wife, Julalak.
        • Jean M. Steinhurst Cutcher was bone Jan. 21, 1951. Her parents, Eugene and Ruth Schumacher were both graduates of the Waite class of 1940. She grew up on Federal Street in East Toledo, as did both of her parents, as well as both sets of grandparents, her great-grandparents and several other relatives.
        She attended East Side Central Elementary School and graduated from Waite High School in 1969. At Waite, she was active in many clubs including the National Honor Society, student council, Alchemist Society, French Club, Future Teachers of America, Thespians, Zetalelthean Literary Society and more. A cheerleader for three years, she was also class valedictorian and was voted Most Likely to Succeed.
        After graduation, she attended Toledo University, where she was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority.
        She married her husband, Dave, a fellow East-sider, in June 1972. Dave subsequently graduated from TU and earned a teaching position. Jean received a Bachelor of Education degree with honors in March 1973 and a few days after commencement, she began teaching as a long-term substitute at East Side Central Elementary.
        That fall, she began a teaching career with Oregon City Schools as a sixth-grade teacher at Starr Elementary School, After her daughters Jenai and Marissa were born, she earned a master of education degree at the University of Toledo. She switched to teaching fifth grade, and after the birth of her third daughter, Alisa, she spent one year teaching at Wynn Elementary. She helped to institute Outdoor Education at Starr, and the Limelighter Booster Club at Clay High School.
        Upon retirement, she has enjoyed spending time with her family and friends and enjoying her grandchildren, Iris, Violet and Luke. She has worked at the Challenger Learning Center, taken part in several Oregon Community Theatre productions, is reservation chairman of the St. Charles Hospital Auxiliary, and is secretary of the Waite Alumni Association.  She is also a member of the Gamma Chi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma teacher honorary, Tri Delta Alumni Chapter and St. Ignatius Church.
        She resides with her husband in Oregon.      
        • Joseph T. O’Leary was born Oct. 4, 1939 in Marquette Michigan.  He lived in the upper peninsula of Michigan the first four years of his life and to moved Ravine Park Village when his father was promoted to a job with the Army Corp of Engineers.
        He went to Garfield Elementary School and later attended St. Thomas Aquinas and Good Shepherd elementary schools.
        Upon entering Waite High School in 1953, his goal was to weigh 100 pounds as a freshman, to play in the band immediately and to be inducted into the National Honor Society his junior year. While at Waite, he lettered in tennis, was president of the band, vice president of his senior class, participated in the Follies and was a member of the Quill and Dagger Literary Society.
        During his junior year, he was astounded to be appointed a Junior Rotarian with his classmate, Ed Penhorwood, who has remained a close friend.
        After graduation in 1957, O’Leary attended the University of Toledo where he initially planned to major in engineering. Graduating with a math major, he received a ROTC Commission, and was assigned to an 8” Howitzer Battalion in Buedingen, Germany. After one year abroad, he flew back to Toledo to marry Annie Petroff, a 1960 Waite grad. He took her back with him to Germany.
        Following his tour of duty, he was hired as an industrial management trainee with Ford Motor Company in Sandusky. While working full time, he attended TU, earning an MBA, cum laude. One of his last classes included a stockbroker who said his company was looking for trainees.  This proved to be a perfect career path for him.  At that time, there were no stockbrokers in Toledo’s East Side, so this new venture carried unknown risks and challenges.  The investment field led to more than 40 years of satisfying and rewarding work with interesting people, many of whom became friends.
        Becoming vice president and portfolio manager, as well as manager and share holder for Kidder Peabody, president of the Toledo Bond Club, president of Toledo Financial Analysts, chair of UT’s Committee on Academic Business Concerns, and director for First Federal Savings & Loan are some of his professional achievements. He retired after 40 years as vice president of UBS Financial Services, Inc.
        O’Leary’s volunteer activities include serving on the board of Aid to Adoption of Special Kids, Lourdes College, Salvation Army and Cummings-Zucker. He supports many local organizations, including Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Helping Hands of St. Louis, Metroparks Volunteer Trail Patrol and Luther Home of Mercy, to name a few.
        As a retiree, some of his most rewarding experiences include medical mission trips with his wife, Annie, to Honduras and Peru, and working with the Christian Appalachian Project.
        Hunting, fishing, reading, traveling, playing bridge, hiking, biking and enjoying his five children – Lisa, Megan, Kate, Mark and Sean – and his 11 grandchildren are his favorite pastimes.
        Spending time at a family vacation home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is also very important to O’Leary.
        • Carol Sue Horton (Sicha)  was born April 28, 1951, to Osborne and Margaret Wojatluk Horton in Toledo. She and her younger sister, Linda, attended Oakdale Elementary. She graduated from Waite in 1969.
        While in high school, she discovered the Waite Art Department in the Field House, where teachers Kathy Genzman and the late John Wheeler encouraged, inspired and challenged her. She took every art class available, as well as business courses and college preparatory classes.  She graduated with a triple major in art.
        After completing her studies at Waite, she worked for State Aerial Farm Statistics, where she painted black and white photos with oil color. The company sold these paintings to property owners, and the commission she received paid for continuing education.
        In 1970, she married Tom Sicha.  They look forward to celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary in June, with their son, Eric, grandson Aiden, daughter Jennifer Sicha Wardlaw, son-in-law Joel, and granddaughters Stella and Addison.
        After her children started school, she furthered her education at Davis Business College, where she studied Interior Design.  There, she became proficient in drafting and drawing, design and layout, and color rendering for presentation.  She also refined her skills in Smith’s communication.  While at Davis, she had the opportunity to intern at Custom Kitchens and Baths, where she did drafting and renderings for presentations.  Following Davis, she studied fine painting at the University of Toledo/Toledo Museum of Art under professor Linda Bell, who was another positive connection with Waite.
        She began her business of painting murals and decorative painting in 1980. She has established contacts with Toledo’s best interior designers, which has led to a successful word-of-mouth business for the past 39 years.
        Her work can be found in many Ohio institutions, including Flower Hospital and the Toledo Children’s Hospital.  In preparation for Waite’s 100th anniversary, she not only restored the four large murals on the first floor in the Main Building, she also did additional work in the “new” Main Office on the first floor.
        Her most challenging and rewarding commission was the painting of Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Maumee. It was a project that led her to the Catholic faith.
        In 2017, she and teammate, Kathy Reyes, began an art service program, STARS (Shining Teen Artists Renew Spirit).  Together, they volunteer with artistic teens to create public art for non-profit organizations.
        Her participation in the Toledo Artists’ Club, Toledo Women’s Art League and Athena Art Society allow her the luxury of painting and showing her works with many fine artists.
        • Robert A. Vasquez was the second of four boys born to Primo and Susan Alvarado Vasquez. His mother passed away when he was 7 years old.  Subsequently, his father raised the four boys with help from his parents, his sister and other family members.
        Vasquez attended East Side Central Elementary. He graduated from Waite in 1970. 
        Public service has been a priority in his family.  All three of his brothers retired as Toledo Police officers. Vasquez continues his family’s legacy of public service, which grew from his grandparents’ desire for a better life in this country and a dedication to the community.
        While working full time and raising his family, he attended the University of Toledo and earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, and a master’s degree in Public Administration.  He received many honors and awards while at the university, including Phi Gamma Mu National Social Science Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha National Social Science Society and the Dan McNamara Award for Outstanding Public Administration Graduate Student in 1987.
        He was appointed by Gov. Richard Celeste as a charter member of the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund and was also appointed by Gov. George Voinovich to be a member of Governor’s Adoption Reform Task Force.
        Since 2015, he has served as Vice President of External Affairs at the Toledo Zoo.  Previously, he was employed as a nonprofit organization administrator and a Licensed Social Worker.
        He was director of special projects at The Twelve, Inc., a statewide nonprofit child welfare and mental health agency for children and families.  During his tenure, he established the Twelve for Children and Families of Florida, Inc., in Fort Lauderdale, and served as executive director from 2005-2008.
        Vasquez was executor rector of St. Anthony Villa, and was a supervisor of Lucas County Children Services. From 1998-2015, he served as an adjunct instructor at UT, teaching Management of Nonprofit Organizations, In 2008, he taught American Government at Owens Community College.
        He has served terms on the Board of Directors of WGTE public television and TARTA, He was a charter member of the board of Substance Abuse Services, Inc., and has been a contributing member on many committees for the City of Toledo, Lucas County, UT and the Toledo Zoo.
        In March 2008, he was appointed to the Toledo Public Schools Board of Education, and has been elected three times, serving twice as board president and vice president and as chairman of the Finance Committee since 2008. He is currently serving as vice president and is a trustee of the Ohio School Board Association.
        He and his wife Kathy have been married 38 years and have two adult sons, Stephen and David.
        • Beverly Tittle Baker, (posthumous). The daughter of Clarence and Annie Mulligan Tittle, she was born in Toledo on June 19, 1945, and attended Navarre Elementary and Waite High School, just like her sister and four brothers.
        At Waite, she was a member of orchestra, Y Teens, the Alchemist Society and Future Teachers of America. She was active in the Junior Council on World Affairs prior to graduation in 1963.
        In 1977, she moved to Arizona, where she raised four children with an example of compassion, integrity, embracing individual uniqueness, creativity and living life to its fullest.
        A creative entrepreneur, she founded several businesses over the  years, including a wallpaper and painting company, a construction business and a catering service.
        A passionate community organizer and a strong advocate of human rights, she embraced diversity and strove to champion self-empowerment. She enriched and blessed the journeys of countless individuals and families. She endeavored to help people understand their personal contributions and to realize the value of their efforts.
        In 1994, she founded the non-profit partnership, Community Asset & Resource Enterprise (CARE) in Mesa, Arizona. CARE began as an afterschool program in her backyard and quickly grew into a multiservice community center that annually provides an emergency holiday program for 2,700 children. Youth educational programs and services and a medical clinic providing more than $10 million worth of primary health services to uninsured and underinsured community members are just a sampling of the enrichment programs offered through CARE.
        Her accolades included the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader Award, the Virginia Lamp Leadership Award, the Mesa Woman of the Year Award, the National Service Award and the Community Vision Award, among others.
        Baker passed away in Mesa, Arizona on May 29, 2018. In addition to her brother, Merle, she is survived by her four children, Toby, Lisa, Nicole and Sheila.
Harry Cummins, Robert Vasquez, Jean Steinhurst Cutcher, Carol Horton Sicha, Sheila Hodge (accepting on behalf of her late mother, Beverly Tittle Baker), and Joseph O'Leary.


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