The Wave | Story By Danielle Toth / Photos by Dave Fisher ‘04, Fisher Photography
Tony Ferrante: Holy Name Graduate Gives Back to School That “Gave Him a Start”
While Holy Name High School graduates move on after graduation, following their dreams to all corners of the globe, most inevitably return to their alma mater, whether it’s because they send their children or grandchildren to the school, make a donation, attend a reunion or simply visit to reminisce.
Tony Ferrante graduated in 1949, but although he always wanted to visit, he didn’t return until a few years ago after a chance meeting with some Holy Name alumni.
“One day, my wife and I were having lunch at a restaurant when four guys walked in with Holy Name jerseys on,” Ferrante recalls. “I said to my wife, ‘I’ve got to talk to them.’ So when one passed our table, I called him over. He said they all went to Holy Name but had graduated. He was about 24 or 25 years old and still full of the spirit I remembered in myself when I talked about the school. I turned to my wife and said, ‘I have to go back.’”
Ferrante attended Holy Name when the school was on the corner of Harvard and Broadway Avenues and, being an east sider, wasn’t familiar with the new school on Queens Highway in Parma Heights. He asked his west side colleagues about the school and happened to meet Jack Richardson ’79 Athletic Director at Holy Name and asked how he could help and the rest is history.
‘The School Was Really on Fire’
Ferrante attended Holy Name High School in the Newburgh neighborhood of Cleveland.
Ferrante recalls Principal Sister Rosario, who was tough but had a soft spot and supported athletics at the school, which was the first coed Catholic high school in the Cleveland area.
“There were a lot of rules, and the nuns had to be treated with courtesy and respect,” Ferrante says. “You couldn’t hassle them. But most were very nice, and we respected them.”
Ferrante says he was recruited to the school by football coach Danny Mormile and received a scholarship. He played quarterback in the Charity Football Game, an annual game that took place on Thanksgiving.
Ferrante was a sophomore and played in the game during the largest crowd ever recorded for the event – 70,955 at Cleveland Stadium on November 27, 1946. Unfortunately, Cathedral Latin defeated Holy Name, 35-6.
However, the next year we played Cathedral Latin at the Cleveland Stadium. Cathedral Latin came into the game with a 37 game winning streak. They were ranked #1 in the state. We beat them 14-7. The student body and our supporters ran onto the field screaming, hugging the players and crying tears of joy.
“I started attending Holy Name my sophomore year, and my three years there were some of the greatest years I ever enjoyed,” Ferrante says. “The school was really on fire. There was such enthusiasm and support. It was a great period for Holy Name itself and the student body.”
‘I Caught a Break’
Following graduation, Ferrante received a football scholarship to John Carroll University in University Heights, majoring in history with a minor in philosophy. While there, he met his wife, Josephine, on a blind date. The two were married between his sophomore and junior years and have been married for 61 years.
Following graduation, Ferrante was drafted into the United States Army. He served in the medical corps and was stationed stateside, treating wounded Korean War soldiers at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
After the service, he worked several jobs before landing at women’s apparel giant Bobbie Brooks as a supervisor and manager. Then, in January 1983, he bought a trucking company.
“I had three kids and needed a job,” Ferrante says. “I caught a break when a law firm offered me the opportunity to use my experience and buy Kaplan Trucking Company. I had worked at Brooks Transportation, a division of Bobbie Brooks, so I thought I knew something about the business. I realized how little I knew when I walked in and found out all the problems the company had.”
The Ferrante family now owns four companies – Kaplan Trucking and Eastern Express are steel haulers working with major steel producers and processors, while Horizon Freight System and TRX provide intermodal trucking services for railroads, steamship lines and other domestic customers.
Ferrante is now in semi-retirement – his son, David, manages the businesses. Ferrante also has two daughters, Nancy Westrick and Suzanne Ferrante, threegranddaughters, one great grandson and one great granddaughter.
‘Holy Name Has Always Stuck With Me’
When Ferrante toured the current Holy Name High School, he couldn’t believe the difference between the school he attended and the beautiful campus, he says.
“I saw a beautiful school compared to where I went to school,” Ferrante says. “It was very exciting.”
However, one aspect of the campus that wasn’t as exciting was the library.
“I visited the library and could see it needed some updating,” Ferrante says. “So one day I went there with my wife and made a donation toward it.”
To honor Ferrante’s generous donation, the school named the facility the Ferrante Library & Media Center, which includes not only a library and technology center but also a television production studio and control room, instructional classroom with Smart board and wireless Internet. HNNews, Holy Name’s news team, produces daily broadcasts using the production studio’s high-definition and 3D cameras, green screen capabilities and editing and broadcasting equipment. The center also includes 33 laptop computers, ten iPads and eight iMacs.
Principal Ben Farmer says of the donation ““Today, our students require a learning environment with a focus on technology and state-of-the-art equipment for 21st Century learning. The creation of a more open and collaborative work space enhances our college preparatory curriculum to attract high academic achievers to attend Holy Name High School. We are grateful for the generous support from Mr. Ferrante and his entire family. He has changed the lives and futures of current Holy Name students and those yet to be.”
“I feel Holy Name gave me a start,” Ferrante says. “Although I was Catholic, at 15 years old, when I went there, I was not very religious. However, Holy Name instilled in me that feeling of the church and Catholicism. And I loved the spirit of the students, who were from all over the west side and downtown and a few east siders, like me.
Holy Name has always stuck with me. All through my married life, I’d sing the fight song. I feel they gave me something important, and it’s time that I should reciprocate and show some respect for the school.”
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