Several Distinguished Alumni were recognized at the East Toledo Neighborhood House Reunion held June 18 at the Millbury Firemen’s Hall,
Michael J. Almaguer was born in Toledo, attended Oakdale Elementary and Waite High School, graduating in 1966. One of 10 children in his family, during his childhood, he spent many summer days at the East Toledo Neighborhood House (ETNH), playing games and working in the wood shop.
Almaguer played baseball for Warren Densmore, who served as a mentor and coach, and was also a member of the Oakdale basketball and baseball teams. In high school he played several sports and participated in the Glee Club, student council and Spanish Club.
He attended the University of Toledo for two years before being drafted into the Army. While in the Army, he had one tour in Vietnam. He trained as Airborne Infantryman and was sent to the 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One). He received several medals during his service, including a Purple Heart, Gallantry Cross with Palm, Civil Action IC Medal and Campaign Medal.
After military service, he earned an associate’s degree in architectural drafting from ITT Technical Institute. He and his wife, Nancy, were married in 1971 and had one child, Bryan. He worked as a pressure vessel designer for SSOE, and as a silo designer for Stout Construction. He joined American Warming and Ventilating in 1975 until 1983, but returned to the company in 1987 as the vice president of sales and marketing.
In 2000, Almaguer was hired as the executive vice president of Pottoroff Co., located in Fort Worth, Tex. In the first three years, the company tripled its sales and market penetration.
Nicholas Caputo was born July 14, 1943 in East Toledo. One of seven children, he lived most of his younger years at 1520 Albert St. He was only 2-1/2 years old when his sister Diane first took him to the ETNH. As a youth, he played shuffleboard, softball, basketball and a lot of pool. He also played on the Oakdale Pee Wee baseball team coached by Warren Densmore.
Caputo attended Waite High School until his junior year, and then moved to Montebello High School in California for his senior year, graduating in 1961. He enjoyed a successful athletic career in high school, excelling in football, wrestling and baseball. He attended Cerritos Junior College and California State – Los Angeles and continued his successful wrestling and academic career. He subsequently earned a Masters of Arts degree from Azusa Pacific University.
Caputo taught and coached for 40 years at El Rancho and John Glenn high schools. As head wrestling coach, his teams earned 15 state placers. He was named Coach of the Year in 1987 for the Whitmont League, and was also the 1987 C1-Division 2 Coach of the Year in California.
He and his wife, Karen Rae Giffein, raised three children, Nick Jr., Suzanne and Christine.
Gene LaHote was born and raised in East Toledo’s “Peanut Hill.” In his youth, he spent many hours at the ETNH under the watchful eye of Warren Densmore.
A 1953 graduate of Waite High School, he married his wife Betty in 1972, and raised three stepsons. He worked for the railroad for more than 40 years. During that time, he also represented Conrail as president of the United Transportation Union for 30 years. LaHote was also their state legislator for nine years.
Since retiring LaHote has kept busy by volunteering for Special Olympics, Blind Veterans Associations, VFW Post 2984, Korean War Association, ProMedica Bay Park Hospital and Waite, Inc. For the past 17 years, he has volunteered for the Veterans Administration and provides weekly transportation for veterans to the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor.
A three-term Commander of the American Legion Post #334, he also enjoys playing softball for the East Toledo Senior Activities Center.
John Veronie was born Aug. 2, 1930, one of eight children born to Greek immigrants Mr. and Mrs. George Veronie.
Veronie has remained active within the Greek community in Toledo and has been a member of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church for more than 60 years. Today, he is an active member of Heart at Holy Trinity.
He attended Oakdale School and Macomber Vocational High School, graduating in 1949. While at Macomber, he was a member of the Engineering Society and wrote for the school paper.
He began his career after high school at Collins & Parker as a soda jerk, eventually becoming an assistant buyer for general goods. He then joined Bostwick & Braun, where he met his future wife, Barbara Williams, on a blind date set up by a colleague. Together, they raised four daughters – Kathy, Kris, Tina and Beth and they have six grandchildren.
In 1967, he joined the U.S. Postal Service, where he worked until 1992. His routes went through East Toledo, and he received many awards for service to the city.
In the 1950s, Veronie worked as a community developer under Mayor Potter in his district, and has continued to attend meetings to support community development in East Toledo. He also served as an assistant ward chairman for the 18th Ward. He also worked with Neighborhood House.
Chris Zervos was born March 28, 1921 and lived at 1107 Vinal St. He has many fond memories of growing up in the neighborhood, he said.
Zervos graduated from Waite High School in 1938. He entered the Air Corps in 1940 and was sent to the Panama Canal Zone for two years. He was appointed to the military cadets where he learned to fly. He became a pilot in the 15th Air Force and flew the Liberator B-24 four-engine bomber, which flew over North Africa and Romania. After a number of successful missions, his plane and crew were shot down over Romania, and they bailed out and floated into Bulgaria, which was controlled by the Germans. He became a prisoner of war for six months, during which he suffered considerable physical abuse. He was released with the Russian takeover of Bulgaria. He received many military medals, including the Purple Heart.
He married Cleo Porentas Feb. 11, 1945. They raised four children and now have eight grandchildren
After the war, Zervos owned a night club and restaurant with his brother for 11 years. Pursuing an interest in building, he started remodeling homes and businesses and became a successful builder of upscale homes for 40 years. His son Chris eventually joined him.
Zervos was a member of the National Association of Home Builders and a former board member of the Toledo Home Builders Association. He is also a past president of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church, having served 40 years on the church council.