New Castle High grads make mark in world

By Pat Litowitz
New Castle News
May 5, 2006

They serve presidents and Supreme Court justices.

Others battle polio and cancer, while some examine moon rocks and work with astronauts.

The community has been entertained through their music and heartened by their generosity.

The common thread? They were all New Castle High School graduates.

As the New Castle Area School District dedicated its new junior-senior high school Sunday, May 7, 2006, the New Castle News looked back at the accomplishments of alumni.

City residents may know of the work that Thomas Francis Jr., a 1917 graduate, performed in fighting polio and influenza. About a half-century later, Dennis Slamon would leave New Castle on his way to develop the breast cancer drug Herceptin.

But did you know about Patrick Maiella? This 1988 graduate has worked on technology to destroy chemical warfare agents. Today, he is part of a team creating a device to analyze biomolecules.

“I don’t think my accomplishments compare with those you listed,” Maiella wrote in an e-mail to The News. “I will not be offended if I am not included.”

Although modest, he deserves a place among New Castle’s best.

Other graduates have stayed close to home.

Fitness expert Leslie Sansone, class of 1979, created the popular “In-Home Walking” and “Walk Away the Pounds” video series. Her studio and production facilities are in nearby Neshannock Township.

Rudelle Thomas, a 1987 graduate, was chosen Ms. Woman of Color in 2004. An ordained minister, she is also a motivational speaker, author and businesswoman.

While impressive, the list that follows is woefully incomplete. The News asked its readers to provide the names of former students who have excelled or made positive contributions. We thank them for their help.

But there are many, many more that need to be recognized.

“This community is blessed with some of the finest students anywhere,” said Angelo A. Perrotta Jr., class of 1954. “The students at New Castle can reach any goal they desire.”

Perrotta should know. He served 39 years as an educator and principal in the school district.

“I strongly believe that the New Castle community is one of the finest places to raise your children.”

The List:

David G. Jenkins, 1900

Judge, 44 years with Mahoning County common pleas court

Louise Treadwell Tracy, 1914

Actress; married to actor Spencer Tracy; founded John Tracy Clinic for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Students; received Sixth Annual Award of the Save the Children Foundation in 1955; member, President’s Task Force on the Physically Handicapped

John S. Powers, 1914

Judge; former Lawrence County district attorney

Esther Hamilton, 1916

Popular Youngstown newspaper columnist and reporter; covered Lindberg baby kidnapping trial

James K. Pollock Jr., 1916

Professor of political science, University of Michigan; Medal of Merit recipient, U.S. government’s highest civilian award; served on Hoover Commission; vice chairman, Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations; named Pennsylvania Ambassador in 1952

Dr. Thomas Francis Jr., 1917

Designed and led the field trial for the polio vaccine; mentor of Dr. Jonas Salk; leading authority on influenza

Carroll D. Kearns, 1918

U.S. congressman, 1947 to 1962, Mercer, Erie and Crawford counties

Edmond M. Hamilton, 1919

Prolific science-fiction writer, also wrote under pen names Alexander Blade, Robert Castle, Hugh Davidson and Robert Wentworth; married to famous science-fiction writer, Leigh Brackett; writer, D.C. comics “Superman” and “Batman” series; graduated at age 15; Jules Verne Award winner

Bill Klee, 1921

Earned 12 varsity letters during high school career; New Castle high school teacher; coached under legendary Red Hurricane coach Philip Bridenbaugh; devised line play that led to six of seven WPIAL championships for New Castle; developed notable track athletes, such as Walt Mangham

Herbert Francis, 1922

Director, Vanderbilt University’s department of radiology

Harold V. Cohen, 1922

Dean of Pittsburgh theater critics; reviewer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dr. Wilbur E. Flannery, 1924

First physician to use penicillin in New Castle; president, Pennsylvania Medical Society; chairman of the board, Pennsylvania Blue Shield Corp.; founder and president, International Academy of Hospice Physicians; author; Jack Butz Humanitarian Award recipient

Mary Margaret Long Mullen, 1924

Philanthropist; donated $50,000 to Lawrence County Youth, Inc., $25,000 to the Children’s Advocacy Center, $25,000 to the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County, $50,000 to the Community Y, $25,000 to First Methodist, $25,000 to the Sankey Youth Center, $50,000 to United Way of Lawrence County and in excess of $350,000 to create scholarships for New Castle graduates in the name of her favorite teacher, Nora W. Long

Charles A. Shepp Jr. 1929

Philanthropist and community leader; estimated that he donated more than $750,000 to causes; noted for involvement with the American Red Cross, the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of America, Easter Seals, City Rescue Mission, the Pennsylvania Society for Crippled Children, the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens, the Salvation Army, Riverside Apartments, Lark Enterprises, I Care House, Lawrence County Historical Society and the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County; co-chairman, Old-Timers Day; president emeritus and former president, Lawrence County Building Trades

Thomas Phillips Johnson, 1930

Attorney; co-founder of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, Pittsburgh’s largest law firm; former co-owner and vice president, Pittsburgh Pirates; editor, Harvard Law Review; assistant to the secretary of the Navy; president, Lawrence Savings and Trust Co.; donated $750,000 to Rollins College

Arthur Reid Gorman, 1933

Music director, Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek, Mich.; trumpeter, Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra; designed trumpet for beginning students

Jack Cole, 1933

Cartoonist, created “Plastic Man” character; works appeared in “Boy’s Life,” “Colliers,” “The Saturday Evening Post” and “Playboy”; started comic strip “Betsy and Me”

Rear Adm. George R. Muse, 1933

Served in three wars; graduate, U.S. Naval Academy

Woodson “Woody” Collins, 1935

Veteran journalist, specializing in religion; started career at New Castle News and later worked at the Butler County News Record and The Vindicator in Ohio; community volunteer; City Rescue Mission’s first public relations director

Brig. Gen. William C. Chip, 1937

Quartermaster general, Marine Corps; 30-year military career that covered three wars; graduate, U.S. Naval Academy

Jack Mathews, 1939

Superintendent, New Castle Area School District

Forrest Raffel, 1939

Co-founder, Arby’s

Lindy Lauro, 1940

Professional football player, the NFL’s Chicago Cardinals and Eastern Football League’s Jersey City Giants; New Castle head football coach, record of 220-103-15; coached six undefeated teams, won three WPIAL championships and 10 Midwestern Athletic Conference titles; inducted into Pennsylvania Scholastic Coaches Hall of Fame and the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame

Alexander Stavas, 1940

Clerk, U.S. Supreme Court, 1981 to 1985

J. Fred Rentz, 1942

Former president, New Castle News; philanthropist; foundation fellow, Pennsylvania Newspaper Association; former trustee, Westminster College Board; received honorary doctor of public service degree, Westminster College

George Zambelli, 1942

President, general manager of Zambelli Internationale Fireworks Manufacturing Co.; known as “Mr. Fireworks”; Silver Buffalo Award recipient, 2003

Joseph Diana, 1942

Vice chancellor for administrative affairs and assistant vice president for business affairs, University of Illinois; served with MacArthur Foundation

Russell Horchler, 1942

Superintendent, New Castle Area School District

Dr. Edward Levine, 1942

Professor, Loyola University of Chicago

General” Robert E. Lee, 1943

Professional football player, Detroit Lions and in the Canadian Football League

Tony Razzano, 1943

Football player, University of Pittsburgh; scout, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers; director of college scouting, San Francisco 49ers; helped form World Football League; sports agent

Gene DeCaprio, 1944

Former New Castle Area School District assistant superintendent; director, Westminster College Celebrity Series; recipient, Army Commader’s Award for Public Service

Bill McPeak, 1944

Professional football player, Pittsburgh Steelers (All-Pro); assistant coach, Steelers; head coach, Washington Redskins; offensive coach, 1972 Miami Dolphins, which posted the league’s only unbeaten mark through regular and post-season play; director of scouting, New England Patriots

Philomena Sparano Jurey, 1945

White House correspondent and division editor-in-chief, Voice of America; author, “A Basement Seat to History” and “Bella Giornata and Elbow Grease”

Rear Adm. Lewis E. “Red” Angelo, 1947

Director, Medical Service Corps; director, Naval Medical Command

Dr. Nancy Lamancusa, 1948

Family practice physician for 42 years; delivered more than 500 babies in New Castle hospitals; past president, Lawrence County Medical Society; charter member, Visiting Nurses Association of Lawrence County; Outstanding Young Woman of America, 1964

Dr. Donald Levine, 1948

Professor, University of Chicago

Arden L. Bement Jr., 1949

Director, U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology; David A. Ross Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering; head, School of Nuclear Engineering, Purdue University; member, the U.S. National Science Board

Dr. Thomas J. Bashara, 1950

General practice physician, 25 years in New Castle

Margaret Panella Anderson, 1950

Judge, Orange County, Calif., common pleas court

William Panella, 1950

Lawrence County district attorney

Glenn McCracken Jr., 1953

President judge, Lawrence County common pleas court

James E. Stephenson, 1953

Violinist, U.S. Military Academy band, Cincinnati Symphony and the Houston Symphony orchestras; also played with the Cincinnati Opera, the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera

Francis X. Caiazza, 1954

Judge, Lawrence County common pleas court; magistrate judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, appointed in 1994; adjunct professor of law , School of Law, Duquesne University

Angelo A. Perrotta Jr., 1954

Educator, 39 years with New Castle Area School District; principal, New Castle High School; college professor

Dr. John Bonfield, 1954

Superintendent, Warwick School District, Lititz, Pa.

Dr. George Giacumakis, 1955

Director, south Orange County campuses, California State University; president and executive director, American Institute of Holy Land Studies, known today as Jerusalem University College; author

Joseph A. Scungio, 1955

Educator, 40 years; served in New Castle Area School District; superintendent, Neshannock Township School District; voted New Castle News’ Most Influential Lawrence County Resident of the 20th Century, education

Rear Adm. James E. Eckelberger, 1956

Director of supply operations, Defense Logistics Agency

Lt. Al Joseph Jr., 1956

Police officer, more than 30 years of service, Rochester, N.Y., Police Department; author, “We Get Confessions”; certified instructor, interview and interrogation; solved high-profile case involving man who raped 28 women over a period of six months in 1988

Dr. Gerry DeCarbo Angel, 1957

One of the first registered nurses to enter private practice in the 1970s; faculty, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing; author, “The New Assertive Nurse”; mental health nurse specialist; consumer advocate, long-term care insurance and Medicare health insurance

Thomas George, 1958

Businessman, developer; leading figure in redevelopment of New Castle’s downtown; restoring former Warner Brothers theater

Thomas L. “Tim” Foster, 1959

Oversaw business aspects of U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, served 31 years in the program; Adm. Hyman G. Rickover’s point man on public issues; assisted Columbia Accident Investigation Board, which investigated loss of space shuttle Columbia; founder and president, TAF Inc.

John F. Mastrangelo, 1959

Educator, 36 years with New Castle Area School District

Dr. Reggie Bonfield, 1959

Superintendent, Northgate School District, Pittsburgh

Dr. Ronald Joseph, 1960

Dentist, practiced in New Castle from 1970 to 1984

Joseph R. Noviello, 1960

President, former St. Francis Hospital

Harry Toscano Jr., 1960

Professional golfer

Dr. Jack Failla, 1960

Orthopedic surgeon; team surgeon, Pittsburgh Pirates; flight surgeon, Navy; founding partner, the Tri-State Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Clinic; associate clinical instructor in orthopedic surgery, University of Pittsburgh’s school of medicine

Paul Martin-Maki, 1960

Faculty, Manhattan School of Music; world-renowned organist; director of music, St. John Episcopal Church, Larchmont, N.Y.

Susan Levine Wittenberg Liebeler, 1960

Chair, U.S. International Trade Commission; professor of law, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles; founder, Lexpert, Malibu, Calif., consulting firm

Dr. Howard Solomon, 1960

Dean, Tufts University

Ralph J. Cicerone, 1961

President, National Academy of Sciences; chairman, National Research Council; researcher, atmospheric chemistry and climate change; Albert Einstein World Award of Science winner; Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science, 1999 laureate; and American Geophysical Union’s Roger Revelle Medal, recipient

Joseph A. Martin, 1961

Superintendent, New Castle Area School District

Israel L. Gaither, 1962

National commander, Salvation Army; first African-American to serve as the Salvation Army’s chief of the staff; served in following roles with the Salvation Army: divisional commander, field secretary/secretary for personnel, chief secretary, territorial commander and chief of the staff; honored for global leadership and ministry

Dr. Louis A. Zona, 1962

Executive director, chief curator of The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown; two-time recipient, YSU Distinguished Professor Awards; Gari Melchers Medal, 1996, Artist’s Fellowship of New York City; author

Thomas Piccione, 1963

Judge, Lawrence County common pleas court

Nicholas DeRosa, 1963

Educator and administrator, 42 years, New Castle Area School District; trustee, Slippery Rock University; New Castle councilman; community volunteer; former president, National Association of Wolves

Dr. John Mangieri, 1964

Dean of the school of education and dean of graduate studies, Texas Christian University; Fullbright Scholar; author; educational consultant; director, Institute for Literacy Enhancement; president, Center for Leadership and Personnel Development; Exemplary Models of Administrative Leadership Award winner

Dr. Dennis Slamon, 1966

Cancer researcher, University of California at Los Angeles; director, Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program; Dorothy P. Landon American Association for Cancer Research Award winner; developed breast cancer drug Herceptin; UCSD-Salk Institute Translational Medicine Award winner

Dominick Motto, 1967

President judge, Lawrence County common pleas court

Dr. Thomas Zumpella, 1967

New Castle High band director; first New Castle alumnus to direct band

George J. Gabriel, 1967

Superintendent, New Castle Area School District; elementary principal; director, special services; administrative assistant to superintendent

Louis M. Ross Jr., 1970

Senior electron microscope specialist, University of Missouri; manager, electron microscope facility; researcher, studied rocks and soils obtained during lunar missions and meteorites; director, Microscopy Society of America; membership chair, Microbeam Analysis Society; co-author, 22 publications; past president, Central States Microscopy and Microanalysis Society; master level, USA track and field official; past board member, Missouri University Track and Field Officials Association

Dr. Jane Wolanin Karski, 1971

Dentist; she and her sister Kathleen were first sisters to graduate from the University of Pittsburgh dental school; former president, Lawrence County Dental Society; noted for Faberge-style eggs, including one presented to Pope John Paul II; church organist for 37 years; performed during high Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican

Mark Marcucci, 1972

President, Macsteel Quanex of Jackson, Mich.

Dr. Kathleen Wolanin Montgomery, 1973

Dentist; she and her sister Jane were the first sister dental team to graduate from the University of Pittsburgh dental school; church organist for 35 years

J. Craig Cox, 1973

Judge, Lawrence County common pleas court

Rick Razzano Sr., 1974

Football player, Virginia Tech University and Cincinnati Bengals

Dr. Victor J. Thomas, 1974

One of 40 people nationwide to participate in five-year accelerated program combining undergraduate studies and medical school; received bachelor’s degree in science from Pennsylvania State University in 1977 and doctorate of medicine from the Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1979; graduated cum laude from both institutions; chairman, department of orthopedics, Passavant Hospital; president of the medical staff, medical director of the Orthopaedic Care Center and a member of the board of directors, Ohio Valley General Hospital; fellow, American College of Surgeons and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; and medical director, The Center for Musculoskeletal Evaluations.

Ludwig Picarro, 1975

Senior vice president, Zurich American Insurance Group

Note: Killed in Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers

Bruce Clark, 1976

College football, Penn State; two-time All-American defensive tackle; NFL, Green Bay Packers (first-round draft pick, 1980) and New Orleans Saints; Arena Football, Detroit Drive

Debra A. DeBlasio, 1976

Principal, Thaddeus Stevens Primary Center and Harry W. Lockley Kindergarten Center in New Castle; coordinator, Reading First Program, New Castle school district

Marianne Thomas Gilson, 1976

Art therapist; director of quality improvement, Penn Foundation Behavioral Services, Sellersville, Pa.; former director of partial hospital psychiatric program, Penn Foundation

Dr. Shawn Jones Elliott, 1977

Co-owner of a patent involving carpet manufacturing and recycling carpet; owns six gym franchises with more than 4,000 members and 50 employees

Leslie Sansone, 1979

Fitness expert; developed “In-Home Walking” and “Walk Away the Pounds” video series; author; contributing editor, Woman’s Day Magazine

Janine Plonka Stern, 1979

Artist; director, Canyon Road Art Gallery, New Mexico; has drawing in permanent collection of Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown

Sanjeev Malaney (exchange student), 1979

Founder and chief executive officer of MediaTel corporation, one of the world’s leading providers of electronic document delivery services; co-founder, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Capsilon, a California-based technology company

Dr. Thomas L. McDevitt, 1980

Holder of 28 patents and author of 15 technical papers in semiconductor processing technology; honored twice with Outstanding Technical Achievements award, IBM

Bryan Pezzone, 1980

Pianist and recording artist; performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Players, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Long Beach Symphony, the University of California Irvine Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, the International Orchestra of USIU in San Diego and the Eastman Philharmonic; created new works and transcriptions for the Yamaha MIDI Grand Piano; contributing editor, “Piano and Keyboard”

Chris Pappas, 1981

Actor, stage name “Cristos Andrew”; appeared in movies, including “In Pursuit,” “Deep Blue Sea,” “Desperado” and “Dust to Dawn” and television

Dr. George Peter Gabriel, 1982

Cardiologist, Allegheny General Hospital

Dr. Paul Wawrzynski, 1982

Cardiologist, New Castle

Dr. Norman Anthony Gabriel, 1983

Physical therapist; owner, Washington Center Physical Therapy

Brian Plonka, 1984

Photographer; National Photographer of the Year, sponsored by Missouri School of Journalism

Melissa Amodie, 1986

District Judge, Lawrence County

Dr. Kevin Pitzer, 1987

Army major, stationed at Fort Meade, Md.; chemistry professor, U.S. Naval Academy; researcher, Walter Reed Army Institute; received patent involving the treatment of malaria

Rudelle Thomas, 1987

Ms. Woman of Color, 2004; ordained minister; author, “Able To Stand!”; editor and publisher, “Divine Eloquence”; motivational speaker; owner, Divine Designs 777 Inc.; vice president, Grace and Mercy Ministries

Dr. Patrick Maiella, 1988

The Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh College Chemistry Award, 1992; R.A. Glenn Award, America Chemical Society’s Fuel Division, 1999; researcher, worked on new technology for the destruction of chemical warfare agents; chemist, Thiokol Propulsion DLVE, research focused on propellants used by the Navy Missile Defense Program; product manager, Waters Corp., currently working with development team on high end time-of-flight mass spectrometers, which are used to analyze and characterize biomolecules

Chandi Lowry, 1998

Producer, reporter for WYTV, Youngstown; named one of 25 Most Beautiful People for 2006, “Pittsburgh Magazine”

Stephanie Cubellis, 2001

Engineer, NASA’s Johnson Space Center; created database to track operation readiness testing results on software used by the International Space Station; trained astronauts and flight controllers on the motion control system for the space station; director of recruitment, Women in Engineering Program, Pennsylvania State University; Women in Science and Engineering Recognition Award, 2006; Joelle Award, 2006

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