By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Mogadore High School will honor two of its most distinguished alumni on Friday night as part of the district’s Homecoming weekend.
Prior to the start of the Wildcats’ home football game against the Southeast Pirates, Mogadore graduates Gino Calcei and Michael “Mickey” Ganitch will be celebrated.
Both will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Calcei graduated from Mogadore in 1955 and played football under head coaches Ned Novell and Walt Evans.
Both coaches had just returned from World War II and are remembered for being tough men who held high expectations for their players.
Prior to his high-school football career, Calcei played three years of Bantam football for the East Akron Corsairs. Calcei then played his sophomore, junior and senior seasons with the Wildcats, including back-to-back undefeated seasons in 1953 and 1954.
In addition to football, Calcei also played basketball and baseball.
After graduating from Mogadore, Calcei attended the University of Akron alongside four other teammates and played on the football team. Calcei and Dave Adolph, who coached in the NFL from 1979 through 2007, were captains of the Zips’ football team during their senior season.
Calcei also lettered in baseball and wrestling during his college career at Akron.
After graduating from Akron, Calcei was activated into the United States Air Force and was deployed to France during the construction of the Berlin Wall during the Cold War. He worked as an aircraft mechanic and was a crew chief for the T-33 jet.
Upon returning stateside, Calcei married Judy Baker and raised his family that included sons Steven and Thomas and daughter Bethany.
Calcei coached at St. Vincent-St. Mary, then began his teaching career in Sidney, Ohio, before returning to Portage County to teach at Rootstown. He later became the athletic director at Hoban. His career took him to the College of Wooster as the Associate Director of Admissions and after holding the position for five years, he returned to Suffield, where he built a house on the farmland of his former coach Walt Evans.
Calcei coached the Field Big Red (the district’s nickname before switching to the Falcons) for six years, then transitioned into an administrative role within the district.
In total, Calcei spent more than 43 years in education. He retired in 2000, but then spent five years as an administrator at Maplewood Career Center.
Calcei’s wife, Judy, spent 30 years as an educator at Rootstown.
The couple have nine grandchildren and two (soon to be four) great grandchildren.
Calcei remains active in the Suffield and Mogadore communities.
Ganitch graduated from Mogadore in 1937 and will be honored posthumously.
He was born in 1918 on a farm in Mogadore as the 12th child of 14, and he attended Mogadore schools during The Great Depression.
He recollected that by living on a farm, the family had access to food that many others did not and that friends and relatives would come to his house to collect food from his family.
It began Ganitch’s life of service to others.
Ganitch played football for Mogadore and following graduation, he moved to California to accept a job with Pacific Tire and Rubber.
In 1940, every male over the age of 21 was required to register for the military draft. Ganitch chose to begin his career in the United States Navy, and he was assigned to the USS Pennsylvania, which was a flagship battleship of the fleet that was assigned on Aug. 15, 1941, to Pearl Harbor.
The Navy had football teams on each ship and Ganitch played games on weekends.
The USS Pennsylvania went into dry dock on Dec. 6, 1941, for propeller repairs and the football team was to leave the ship at 8 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941, for a scrimmage.
Ganitch recalled the attack on Pearl Harbor as the Japanese war planes swooped down, raining bomb after bomb.
One of which fell approximately 45 feet from Ganitch, with an explosion that killed 23 men.
Ganitch survived the attack and his ship was eventually patched and returned to San Francisco to be refitted for guns to continue battle.
Ganitch achieved Chief Quartermaster rating in 1945.
His ship was not at the battle of Iow Jima, but it was the last ship anchored in the bay ready for the invasion of Japan. During the night, Ganitch’s ship was hit, and he lost 20 of his 26 crew members.
Ganitch remained on the USS Pennsylvania during the entire war, then he served on the USS Katmai during the Korean Conflict, when he served as an ammunition supply specialist from 1948-54.
Ganitch married Betty (Arehart) Brumbaugh in 1953 and adopted her three daughters: Janet, Karen and Joyce.
Betty unexpectedly died in 1961, and Ganitch remarried Barbara Church in 1963 and welcomed her daughter, Bonnie, to the family.
He retired from the U.S. Navy on Oct. 10, 1963, holding the title of Senior Chief Quartermaster.
Gino Calcei and my nest door neighbor Dave Adolph were two of my favorites of favorites from thet class!
Just a correction….we now have 7 great grandchildren!!
My mother often talked about Mr. Ganitch, a very nice man that she went to school with!!!