SIDNEY — The Lehman Catholic High School Alumni Association has announced a 1976 graudate of the school will be inducted into the Lehman Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include three alumni, one former principal, and a school board president who was instrumental in merging Holy Angels High School and Piqua Catholic High School to form Lehman.
Since beginning this tradition, the Hall of Fame committee has sought to honor not only alumni but outstanding faculty and supporters of Lehman Catholic. Five distinguished individuals — Sister Patricia Mirsberger, John Frantz, Frank Gilardi Jr., the Rev. Dennis Jaspers and James McClain — will be inducted at Lehman Hall of Fame festivities on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016.
The Hall of Fame evening will begin with Mass at 5:15 p.m. in the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel on campus. Mass will be concelebrated by the Rev. Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, a former Lehman chaplain who currently serves as Rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati, and the Rev. Dennis Jaspers, one of the Hall of Fame recipients. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6:00 p.m. with dinner to follow at 6:30 p.m. in the Cianciolo Family Gymnasium. The dinner will be catered by The Spot.
One inductee to the 2016 Hall of Fame is Frank Gilardi Jr., Lehman Catholic class of 1976. He is a local business owner and community leader who has been actively involved at Holy Angels Church and at Lehman for many years.
Descended from Italian immigrants who settled in Sidney in the 1860’s, Frank’s grandfather, Tony, and Tony’s sons, Frank Sr. and Matt Sr., grew A.M. Gilardi and Sons Wholesale Fruits and Vegetables into a profitable family business. The Gilardi family also opened a pizza restaurant in the 1960’s. Soon Frank Sr. took over the wholesale operation while Matt maintained the restaurant.
Frank Jr. and his brother Philip (LCHS ’85) began making pizzas and preparing salad orders while still in grade school. They learned the importance of providing value to customers and doing business in an honest, ethical manner through the example of their father and grandfather.
In 1988, Frank and Phil purchased the assets of their father’s wholesale business and began Freshway Foods with one truck and five orders for vegetables processed for delivery. Frank was the salesman and delivery driver, and Phil led the processing team and packed orders for shipment in a cramped 7,000 square foot facility.
By 2000, they had outgrown several buildings and broke ground for the current 100,000 square foot state-of-the-art refrigerated processing and distribution space. Their delivery fleet, Freshway Logistics, has over 50 energy efficient trucks.
In 2006, the brothers sold the pizza business to concentrate on produce and other products. MaMa Rosa’s Pizza is still headquartered in Sidney. Frank and Phil recently announced the sale of Freshway Foods to US Foods of Rosemont, Illinois. The brothers will remain with the operation for at least the next two years.
Frank is a past member of the Lehman Board of Limited Jurisdiction and current member of the Lehman Foundation Board of Trustees. Strongly committed to his Alma Mater, he served as chairman of the Lehman “Secure the Future” Capital Campaign. He and his wife, Julie (Raterman), also a member of the Lehman class of 1976, have one daughter, Jennifer (Gilardi) Jung (LCHS ’06).
In his nomination letter, friend James Kerg (LCHS ’74) wrote: “I first met Frank in the early 1070’s when we shared time and great fun in the Lehman marching band. Our lives and our families’ lives have been intertwined for 46 years… We have worked together in business, school, church, politics, community and philanthropic projects for more than four decades.”
“Many years ago, I realized that Frank was a truly special man, a rare find these days indeed,” said Kerg. “I have not wavered from that initial conclusion in witnessing his leadership, compassion for others, spiritual sincerity and meaningful generosity for decades. He literally is a living example of a timeless friend, loving husband and father, major business leader and employer, and ultimately a life-long student, alumnus, and benefactor of Lehman Catholic.”
Frank has also served the Sidney community as a past chairman of the Wilson Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees, past board member of the Holy Angels Soup Kitchen, past president of the Sidney Municipal Airport Advisory Board, past chairman of the Sidney Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, and past president of the Holy Angels Parish Council.
In conclusion, Kerg writes: “Frank is simply a good and decent man of truly deep faith whose reliance on God is a light to the men around him. I am proud and blessed to have shared his friendship.”