The Chagrin Falls Alumni Association will induct a new class of honorees for the Achievement Hall of Fame next week. The ceremony is scheduled for October 6th at the Tanglewood Club. (Tickets available at Chagrin Hardware.) They will also be recognized at the Homecoming Football game halftime ceremony next weekend.
This year’s selections range from Class of ’66 to Class of ’88. Here are the new members.
Tom Anderson, Class of 1966
Tom has had an award winning career as an independent recording engineer, producer, & studio design consultant. After graduating from the University of Denver, Tom went to the Bay area as a musician and in the role of production engineer and assistant engineer. He has worked in primarily all the music genres in his career from jazz, rock, funk/soul, blues, pop, folk, world, & country. During his illustrious career he was in high demand by the top record labels like Warner Bros. and A & M Records. His work has been nominated for 3 Grammy Awards and earned multiple Recording Industry Association of America Gold and Platinum Album awards. Tom has been an engineer on albums for many bands and individual singers including The Allman Brothers, America, Hoyt Axton, The Blackbyrds, Alice Cooper, David Crosby, Pablo Cruise, Alex DeGrassi, The Eagles, Dan Fogelberg, Jerry Garcia Band, The Grateful Dead, John Lee Hooker, The Marshall Tucker Band, Steve Martin, Paul McCartney and Wings, Buddy Miles, Van Morrison, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Poco, REO Speedwagon, The Rolling Stones, Sly and the Family Stone, Rick Springfield, Supertramp, Stephen Stills, Joe Walsh, & Steven Wright. He has also recorded such artists as Jimmy Cliff, Bing Crosby, Buddy Miles, Jimmy Page, Gary Puckett, & Tommy Smothers. A few years ago Tom would relocate back to Chagrin Falls where he runs T A Audio, a sound engineering firm and is a college instructor in the fields of audio engineering, production techniques, sound for film and sound design.
Scott Lax, Class of 1970
Scott has had a rich career as an award-winning writer, novelist, a produced playwright, an essayist, columnist and features writer, educator, and a film and television writer. Before he became a full-time writer and educator, Scott was a salesman, as well as a professional drummer who drummed with Bo Diddley, among many other musicians. Scott has authored two novels, “The Year That Trembled” and “Vengeance Follows,.” both of which take place in a fictional version of Chagrin Falls. The former was named Vermont Book of the Year, Runner-Up; one of 1998’s “Milestones in Fiction” by the Denver Post. He would later be a source-writer and producer of a feature film based on “The Year That Trembled.” Scott would go on to earn four first-place international film festival awards for his role in the film, including the 2002 Midwest Filmmaker of the Year from the Cleveland International Film Festival.. His adaptation of his novel was produced as a stage play twice at Cleveland’s University School, in 2003 and 2013. His college alma mater, Hiram College, where he delivered the commencement address in 2001, named him along with thirteen others as their “Most Illustrious Alumni.” He has also been recognized as the 1992 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bernard J. O’Keefe Scholar in Nonfiction and the 1998 Sewanee Writers Conference Walter E. Dakin Fellow in Fiction. “Vengeance Follows” was called “a minor masterpiece of suspense and human nature by The Midwest Book Review, who also called Scott, “A master wordsmith of the first order.” Scott has also earned awards from the Ohio Professional Writers Communication Contest and the Ohio Excellence in Journalism. Currently, he is on the liberal arts faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he teaches screenwriting. Scott recently wrote a feature for ESPN on the Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship, which ran on SportsCenter the day after the final victory.
William “Skip” Church, Class of 1971
Skip has had a prolific career both in front of and behind the television camera. While still attending Western Kentucky University, he became the youngest sports director of a commercial television station in the country at age 20. (WBKO-TV) He would go on to be a sports anchor, producer, and feature reporter. Skip has been honored with two Emmy Awards, five Emmy nominations, and the Associated Press Sports Feature of the Year. For the past two decades he has overseen his video production company, Skip Church Enterprises. He produces a wide range of programs from national documentaries to corporate videos, with many of his video productions winning a Telly award, an honor for the very best film & video productions. A significant part of Skip’s life has been with giving back. He has served on the Board of Directors in Connecticut for both the Special Olympics & United Way. Skip even hosted the first-ever live televised Special Olympics Event. His civic duty is most notably recognized in regards to drinking and driving due in part to his youngest son Dustin being killed by a drunk driver in 2004. Skip drafted and promoted the passage of legislation that strengthens drunk driving laws by requiring convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device that prohibits engine starts for those that are impaired. In the first two and a half years of the program, those devices have prohibited engine starts more than 105,000 times, which averages to 115 less impaired drivers on a daily basis. Skip and his wife Colleen, who is the National President for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, also created a summer day camp for children in honor of their son, called Dustin’s Place.
Jonathan Engel, Class of 1973
Jonathan has been fortunate to pursue two careers unified by a single passion — to promote informed decision-making in a complex world. He began as a journalist for several respected news organizations, working in the 1970s and 1980s for the Des Moines Register in Iowa, Reuters and Dow Jones in London and the International Herald Tribune in Paris. At Reuters in the 1990s, he served in several senior editorial posts, including Global Editor at Reuters Television, the first worldwide TV network dedicated to market-moving financial news. He also helped integrate traditionally separate news units in the new position of Manager of Multimedia News Production. As news organizations and other information providers embraced digital production, media consumers struggled to cope with floods of easily published but poorly defined content. Information overload became a common complaint. Jonathan helped pioneer new techniques for organizing, classifying and link- ing information for more effective Web-based search, navigation and delivery. Eventually, he set up his own information architecture consultancy in 2003, InfoArk Ltd., to assist a variety of organizations, including global companies, UK government agencies and influential charities. He has worked for Unilever, Cambridge University, Times Newspapers, the National Health Service, Oxfam International and children’s charity Barnardo’s. Additionally, he has been a member of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA).
Tim Swan, Class of 1975
Tim has been a leader in commercial real estate in Denver, Colorado for over 30 years with over $7.5 billion in transactions covering more than 34 million square feet. Early in his career he held the roles of President of The Denver Solar Energy Association & Partner at East-West Energy Co. (Denver, Colorado). Before recently retiring, Tim was Managing Director, CBRE Capital Markets Group, Colorado Region. Tim closed more than $1.37 billion in sales volume in 2007, including the Blackstone Denver CBD Office Portfolio for $770 million. This portfolio sale surpassed the highest recorded commercial trans- action in Denver’s history by a factor of three. His success was noted with being honored with Commercial Real Estate Association Denver Chapter’s “Investment Broker of the Year Award” on three separate occasions. Tim also received the “Heavy Hitter” Award from the Denver Commercial Real Estate Association multiple times. Outside of real estate, he has been an avid volunteer for such groups as National Association of Office & Industrial Parks, Project Healing Waters, Colorado Association for Viticulture & Enology, the Denver International School, & The Cultural Food Guild. What has given Tim the most pleasure is mentoring young people, whether they are just starting in their careers or are high school students in maximizing their potential.
Wendy Diamond, Class of 1988
Wendy Diamond is a Social Entrepreneur, Humanitarian, Endangered Animal and Rescue Advocate, World’s Premiere Pet Lifestyle expert, Best-Selling Author, and TV personality. She is heralded and recognized as a pioneer in the animal world; dubbed “Martha Stewart of the Milk Bone Dish” by The New Yorker, and crowned the “Canine Queen” by Forbes. She founded Animal Fair Media with a specific mission to save disenfranchised animals in shelters, and endangered wildlife globally, by promoting animal welfare and rescue, healthy pet lifestyles, and responsible breeding. Since its beginning, the number of animals euthanized annually has dropped by 58 percent, from 12 million to 4 million. Wendy has authored several best-selling books including: Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog, What I Learned from the Cat, My Cat’s Life, My Dog’s Life, How to Understand Men Through Their Dogs, How to Understand Women Through Their Cats and It’s a Dog’s World: The Savvy Guide to Four-Legged Living; A Musical Feast and All Star Feast. With the help of Lucky, her first adopted dog, and Baby Hope the second one, Wendy holds 3 Guinness World Records. Lucky Diamond is The Animal Photographed with the Most Celebrities with 363 celebrities. Baby Hope had the most ex- pensive pet wedding in history raising money for a wing at the Humane Society of New York. Wendy herself received a Guinness for the longest curtsey relay in 5 minutes of 314 curtsies. Recently she launched Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) at the United Nations in 144 countries, which is a day to celebrate, support and empower women entrepreneurs and women owned businesses globally. Wendy has received countless honors and titles including the 2016 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, Grand Marshal of Barkus, & Chairwoman of the Katrina Pet Memorial. She also serves on the Board of Advisors for the United Nations Millennium Development Goal Achievers, Grey Muzzle Foundation, Social Innovation Forum/United Nations and World Entrepreneurship Day.
Community Service Honoree: Mark Gebler, Class of 1975
Like many fathers in Chagrin Falls, Mark Gebler became involved in the youth programs of his sons (Scott ‘00, Brett ‘02, and Zak ‘05) from Indian Guides to football and wrestling. However, Mark not only took lead roles in these ventures, he continued on with them when his sons went on to high school and college. His volunteerism began with the Chagrin Valley Jaycees where he was Co-Chairman of Blossom Booths and Games from 1983-86. He was also Chairman of Blossom Time Run water stops for 14 years. His efforts were recognized in 1995 with the Chagrin Valley Jaycees Distinguished Service Award as the Outstanding Jaycee. From 1989-93 he was Nation Chief for the Geauga County YMCA Indian Guides. His duties included promoting, organizing events, including field trips for approximately 225 youth members and their fathers. His efforts were also felt in the Chagrin Athletic Association. During the 1990s, Mark was the Head Wrestling Coach and Commissioner of Wrestling building the program from 16 wrestlers to 61. Additionally, he was a Head Football Coach in CAA at this time. He would later volunteer as a football coach on the CFMS staff for 12 seasons. Further, he has continued to volunteer as the Head Statistician for the CFHS Varsity Football Team, a role he began in 1997. Mark had a 36 year career in the postal service with 10 years as the Postmaster of Chagrin Falls. A highlight from his career was overseeing the naming of the Chagrin Falls Post Office to the Sgt. Michael M. Kashkoush Post Office Building. Michael Kashkoush ‘01 died while in combat in Iraq, while serving in the U.S. Marines. Mark continues to volunteer in a number of roles in Chagrin today with his wife Debi Shukys Gebler ‘75.