SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Mad River Region will soon induct its newest Hall of Fame members.
The late Donald Bishop, former president of First National Bank, and Ed Leventhal, owner and president of Valco Industries and A&E Powder Coating, have been selected this year at the organization’s 2010 Business Hall of Fame laureates.
JA of Mad River Region serves Clark, Champaign, Logan and Madison counties.
The Hall of Fame, established in 1990, is a way to recognize individuals whose leadership, vision and innovation have contributed to the area’s continued progress and prosperity, said JA President Louise Lambert.
Since 1998, two awards are given each year, with one given to a living individual and the other awarded posthumously.
A selection committee comprised of past laureates and business, education and civic leaders is gathered to consider a slate of potential honorees using the following criteria:
• Significant contributions to the success of their organization or profession.
• The highest moral and ethical principles.
• Civic responsibility and community involvement.
• Serve as outstanding role models for others in business, and especially for the youth of the community.
A true community steward
This isn’t the first time Donald Bishop has been recognized by JA for service to his community. The husband, father of two and former bank president received the local Ralph A. Baldenhofer Award in 1978 and a national JA award shortly thereafter.
Bishop spent his professional life in banking, working at Springfield Federal Savings and First National Bank, which became BancOhio. He retired from BancOhio as Chairman of the Board in 1981.
Even though he earned his living as a banker, “serving his community was a real passion. That was who he was — he didn’t do it because he was a banker and it was good for business. He was dedicated to it and he loved it. ...The word that best characterizes my dad is stewardship,” said daughter Nancy Bishop Prafke of her father, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 85.
Now a resident of Punta Gorda, Fla., Bishop Prafke continues to keep her father’s mission alive.
“People have commented that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree,” said the volunteer CEO of the non-profit group Team Punta Gorda, a grass-roots organization established to help rebuild the city after Hurricane Charley hit in 2004.
Others who remember Bishop talk about his commitment to the community, his tenacity and an uncanny ability to raise funds.
Long-time friend Mike Calabrese worked with Bishop to raise $530,000 in the late 1980s for a new facility for the Opportunities Industrialization Center.
Calabrese has been at OIC for more than 30 years and now serves as executive director.
The two men worked to raise the funds during an exciting time in Springfield, Calabrese said, which put them in competition for local dollars with a new hotel, library and YMCA.
The campaign was successful, as were most of Bishop’s, but Calabrese took away much more from that experience than money.
“There’s one important thing about Don that he taught me and others — you have to give every one the opportunity to contribute without making them feel their gift is too small. No amount is too small, he told me, because equal giving is not equal sacrifice. (Bishop) understood the various pulls on people’s lives and financial situations and he would regularly remind others of that,” he said.
In the early 1990s, a group including Calabrese established a scholarship with the Springfield Foundation in honor of Bishop that helps low income students with post-secondary education.
Bishop’s contemporaries remembered him fondly, all pointing out his ability to find money for a project he believed in.
“Don was one of those exceptional individuals who really enjoyed asking people for their financial support for the many worthwhile community projects in which he was involved. He could visualize the ‘bigger picture’ of how these undertakings would have long-lasting benefits,” said Richard Kuss, retired president of The Bonded Oil Co.
Kuss said Bishop was integral to the Clark State Performing Arts Center, OIC, Wittenberg University, the St. John’s Center, the Salvation Army and the local chapter of Boy Scouts of America.
“His creed was ‘If it’s to be, it’s up to me,’ and he was tenacious. He’d go back to people and keep on it because he believed in community service and lived it every minute,” Kuss said.
Some community leaders got their start by following Bishop’s lead.
Frank Otway, retired president and CEO of Schaefers Bakery, met Bishop when he moved to town in 1964 and soon became involved in many organizations with which Bishop was affiliated.
“He held a powerful position in the community, but he used that to raise money for what he believed in,” Otway said. “When he got involved, he went all the way. ...He was an example to so many people.”
Quietly working to provide opportunity
The emcee for the JA Hall of Fame banquet for the last decade will have to step down this year so he can receive the award he usually gives to others.
Ed Leventhal, husband, father of three, grandfather and owner and President of Valco Industries and A&E Powder Coating, has been giving to his adopted community for more than 40 years.
The Cleveland native moved here with his wife and after one year as a teacher with Springfield City Schools, he joined the family business, Vining Broom, leaving his formal teaching career behind.
Even though his professional career ended up revolving around business and manufacturing, Leventhal never stopped supporting young people, education and the economically disadvantaged.
“He stands for so many good things, but I think his greatest achievement is his tremendous work to improve the educational opportunities in this community. ... If there’s anything going on out there that’s going to improve the educational opportunities in our community, Ed Leventhal will be there,” said Fred Leventhal, Ed’s uncle, former owner of Vining Broom and Chairman of the Board of O-Cedar.
Fred Leventhal was the JA Hall of Fame award recipient 22 years ago.
Ed Leventhal’s personal passion drives him to work to create educational opportunities for young people, and his service reflects that.
He was one of the founders of the local chapter of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, has mentored three young men through the program, has volunteered with JA for nearly 20 years, helped establish a JA scholarship in honor of friend Tom McGregor and has served non-consecutive terms on the Springfield City School Board.
“The initial draw to JA for me was because it teaches young people about free enterprise, entrepreneurship and business and ties it all in with education. It also brings in a significant number of volunteers from the community into the schools, so those volunteers can get a better understanding of what’s going on in our classrooms. Those volunteers can also impart knowledge and experience and serve as role models,” he said.
Leventhal has also been involved with WorkPlus, Springfield Rotary Club, the Small Business Development Center, Community Hospital Foundation, OIC, Springfield Foundation and the Committee for Quality Education.
“Deep down he’s always been a big brother, teacher and mentor. He was drawn to JA because of what it does for kids and even after he stopped teaching, his concern for children remained. He’s a very caring person, very patient and rational,” said Laurie, his wife of 42 years.
That caring, patience and rational thought also helped Leventhal through a disastrous fire at Valco in 2007.
“It was such a mess, but he had a positive attitude about it. His biggest concern was always for his employees. ... He never missed a beat, he just started to rebuild. ... All the businesses he’s been involved in — Vining Broom, Valco and A&E Powder Coating — are successful because he hires good people, but more importantly he treats them with respect,” said Andy Bell, longtime friend and senior commercial account executive and agency principal at Consolidate Insurance.
Bell, who will serve as emcee at this year’s event, and Laurie both joked about how Leventhal often said he hoped he’d receive the award by 2020 or so.
“Now he can stop complaining,” his wife said lightheartedly.
“He’s given so much and worked very hard,” she added, “but has never asked for recognition because he has such genuine concern for the community.”
Junior Achievement Hall of Fame Banquet
When: May 20; welcoming reception at 6:15 p.m., Banquet begins at 6:45 p.m.
Where: Courtyard by Marriott, 100 South Fountain Avenue Springfield
TIckets: $85 each or $800 for a table of 10. Deadline to purchase tickets is May 14.
For information or to purchase tickets: Call (937) 323-4725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.