EAST LIVERPOOL Museum honors hometown heroes
Lou Holtz wanted to give credit to those who devote their lives to young people.
By STEPHANIE UJHELYI
EAST LIVERPOOL -- Anyone who dreams will appreciate the significance of the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame.
Originally, the hall of fame was conceived to celebrate the life and success of Lou Holtz, an East Liverpudlian and famous college football coach; however, it quickly evolved into a place where people can see the success of anyone who dared to take a chance.
The Hall of Fame opened its doors in 1998, the 200th anniversary of East Liverpool's founding.
But that dream almost didn't happen.
Rejected at first: Holtz, a graduate of St. Aloysius Elementary School in 1950 and East Liverpool High School in 1954, initially rejected the idea of a Lou Holtz museum, because he said he didn't want a shrine dedicated to him.
Holtz had long attributed the success he had to the guidance, caring and encouragement bestowed on him by his family, teachers, coaches and others in the East Liverpool community.
"Having grown up in the Upper Ohio Valley, I was very much aware of the talented, hard-working and caring people who helped in the shaping of young lives," Holtz said. "Frequent visits back to the valley have reinforced this image." Holtz believed there are heroes among us -- community members who served as an example and inspiration to youngsters by working quietly within their own communities to give back after achieving success themselves.
Once the compromise was struck, the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame became a reality, and Holtz was the first honoree inducted July 5, 1998, by Regis Philbin.
Others: Holtz' story may be public knowledge, but the hall of fame also honors those whose stories may not be as well known.
There is Elizabeth P. Carter, the East Liverpool woman who was named the 222nd Point of Light in President George H. Bush's Thousand Points of Light program for her Tri-State Promoters organization's efforts to provide emergency assistance, food giveaways, free music lessons and programming to build self-esteem. Her group has been assisting East Liverpool and the surrounding community for more than 35 years.
There was Lt. Col. Mark C. McGeehan who died June 24, 1994, protecting those under his command from a rogue senior pilot who officials had refused to ground. McGeehan decided instead of risking his pilots, he would serve as co-pilot. On June 24, 1994, in preparation for an air show, the maverick pilot exceeded flight restrictions for the craft, causing the bomber to sideslip into the ground, killing all four on board.
Of course, alongside Holtz are some individuals who appear in national headlines just as often as he does, including U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., who was honored for his efforts for the unemployed.
The lives of Holtz, Carter, McGeehan and Traficant are just some of those success stories visitors will experience within the walls of the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame, located in the former Bank One building in downtown East Liverpool. The building was donated to the effort in 1998.
The message is clear: Lead by example and success can be inspired.
Holtz explained, "I believe that by learning about the work ethic and perseverance of inductees, these young people will find role models -- people of their own communities, not so very far removed from themselves, who worked to make their dreams come true."