Message Forum

go to bottom 
  Post Response

10/25/08 10:39 AM #1    


(June) Mary DiFiore (Pulford )

Welcome to the Eastern High School Class Of 1959 forums. Please press "Post Response" to participate in the discussion.

11/22/08 08:04 PM #2    


(June) Virgene R Oberlin (Price)

Thanks to all those who are working so hard to make a great 50th High School reunion possible. Sure hope to see or hear from a lot of my old friends -- especially those from Sheridan Road School. Virgene Oberlin Price

06/04/09 01:51 PM #3    


(June) Mary DiFiore (Pulford )



May 17, 2009

Perrone inspired as teacher, coach, academic

Hall inductee made big impact in many areas

Neil Koepke

It wasn't long after Vito Perrone took over for the legendary Don Johnson as Eastern High School wrestling coach in 1957 that Vito's friends and colleagues knew that Perrone was destined for great things in the academic world.

"He was a history and government teacher at Eastern, too, and I visited his classroom and watched and listened to the way he taught,'' said Johnson, who coached Perrone, an all-state wrestler in 1950 as a senior.

"I almost wanted to jump up and clap. A lot of kids didn't like to study history, but these kids were enthralled. Vito was a great teacher and with his interest in education, I had a feeling we wouldn't be keeping him for very long.''

Perrone, a Big Ten champion and All-American wrestler at MSU, stayed at his alma mater as coach for five seasons and had great success. He led the Quakers to the state championship in his first year and coached six individual state champions and 19 all-staters.

While coaching, Perrone earned master's and doctorate degrees in education from MSU and left Eastern for the start of a remarkable teaching and academic career in 1963. He taught and held academic positions at Northern Michigan, North Dakota, Princeton and Harvard.

Perrone, 76, is one of eight individuals and one team in the 2009 class joining the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame next month. Other inductees include Gary Boyce, Jake Boss Sr., Karyn Cribley, Jim Mooney, Bill Ross, Paul Pozega, Kristen Rasmussen and the 1954 Everett football team.

The induction ceremony and dinner is at 6:30 p.m. June 25 at Lansing Community College's Gannon Building gymnasium.

"Vito was really into wrestling and coaching, but he loved teaching, and you could tell he really wanted his career to be in academics,'' said Jack Perrone, Vito's older brother who still lives in Lansing.

"No matter what Vito does, he puts his soul into it. He works so hard, whether it was his athletic career, teaching and coaching or in the academic world.''

Perrone, 76, lives in Cambridge, Mass., with his wife, Carmen. They'll celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary on May 26.

Serious setback

On April 24, 2000, while working at Harvard, Perrone suffered a serious stroke. With the same determination that made him so successful, Perrone has made great progress in his recovery.

"He's worked very hard with his speech therapy. It's getting better, but he gets frustrated because he knows what he wants to say but can't get it out,'' Jack Perrone said. "His memory is just fine.''

Carmen Perrone said her husband was thrilled and "very honored" about the Hall of Fame recognition and is looking forward to returning to Lansing for the induction ceremony next month.

"That was a long time ago. It was a great time in my life,'' Vito said, when asked about growing up in Lansing and his athletic career at Eastern and MSU. "(There were) lots of good memories.''

'Great values'

Perrone, the son of hard-working immigrant parents from Italy, was born in Bath in 1933 and moved to the north end of Lansing in 1939. He was an excellent student early on and got into wrestling just before high school.

"He was a lean kid in high school and was more of a technician than an overpowering wrestler,'' said longtime close friend Jimmy Sinadinos, a teammate at Eastern and MSU.

"He was very intelligent in school and as a wrestler he took to coaching from Don Johnson. He was a determined kid and I think that came from his background.

"His parents came over from Italy and struggled, but they worked hard, instilled great values in their kids, and Vito knew how important it was to get an education.''

Johnson said Perrone was very young in high school and graduated after he just turned 17.

"He was a bright person and won because he was so coachable and a student of the sport,'' Johnson said. "He didn't develop physically until he was at Michigan State.''

Perrone made the all-state team in 1950 at Eastern, earned three letters as MSU, winning a conference championship at 167 pounds in 1953. He served as Spartan captain for two seasons.

"When he was at MSU, he was one of four Eastern wrestlers on the team - Larry Fowler, Don Phillips, Jimmy Sinadinos and Vito,'' Johnson said. "That was great for our school.''

Sinadinos won Big Ten titles at 123 and 137 pounds in 1956.

"When Vito came back from the Army, after leaving MSU, and took over for me when I went into administration, he fit right in and became a great coach and teacher,'' Johnson said.

Major influence

When Ed Rodgers II was age 7, he met Perrone through Rodgers' father while both were students at MSU. Vito inspired Rogers to get into wrestling and he eventually won a state title at the Michigan School for the Blind.

"Vito is the kind of guy who never does anything halfway. If he gets into something, it's always 100 percent,'' said Rogers, a prominent attorney who is now the supervising administrative law judge for the state of Michigan.

"He was one of my dad's best friends and was almost like an uncle to me. He had a positive impact on my life.''

Rogers used to go watch Eastern matches when Perrone was the coach.

"He coached some kids who turned out to be state champions but who had some trouble in school until they were coached by Vito,'' he said. "He inspired his wrestlers to work hard academically because they had to do something life when wrestling ended.

"He was so smart as a teacher and had lots of great ideas about the educational system in this country and he's a world-renowned educator. My son has read three books Vito wrote about teaching.''

Perrone spent four years teaching at Northern Michigan before moving to the University of North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife and seven children - five sons (Vito, Christopher, Patrick, Jack and Sean) and two daughters (Mary Ann, Siobhan) - spent 18 years in Grand Forks, where Vito also served as a dean of the UND Center for Teaching and Learning.

Perrone never lost his love for wrestling and helped mentor his sons in the sport.

After leaving UND, he accepted a fellowship at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, then moved on to Princeton for two years before joining the faculty at Harvard. In the mid-1990s, he served as director of teacher education at the Graduate School of Education.

"As a coach, his kids had tremendous respect for Vito because he was a winner, a leader and teacher,'' Sinadinos said. "He was the same way in the academic world.

"You don't make it to Harvard as just another professor.''

Additional Facts
• This is the third in a series of profiles of this year's inductees to the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame. To read previously published profiles, go to

06/15/09 11:51 PM #4    


(June) Mary DiFiore (Pulford )


June 13, 2009

Pattengill school site will take a week to raze

'It's kind of sad. My kids all went here.'

Susan Vela

Two excavators seemed to tango across pavement Friday morning, preparing to demolish the old Pattengill Middle School.

Their shadows dipped toward each other and then separated. The lumbering pieces of machinery took separate posts at the eastern corners of the nearly 90-year-old Lansing School District building.

One extended its claw to the third story. Shortly after 8 a.m., it began ripping.

The claw ripped and ripped - tearing down bricks and mortar, walls and floors - until the few bystanders could barely speak.

"It's kind of sad," Donna Peterman, a 58-year-old Lansing resident said. "My kids all went here.

"It's too bad that the old building can't be saved."

Excavators should raze the majority of Pattengill, which adjoins Lansing's Eastern High School, within a week, said Project Director Jerry Brand of Granger Construction.

Evidence of an old school should vanish in three weeks. Debris cleanup could continue into July.

Then workers will turn their focus to restoring and remodeling Eastern's new Jerome Street facade.

Sprucing up Eastern

Brand promised that the old Pattengill's decorative friezes and other architectural features will reappear in Eastern's revamped exterior.

"That grand old lady over there is going to have a nice appearance when we finish," Brand said Friday, speaking of Eastern High School in the distance.

Demolition was long overdue for the Jerome Street structure that first opened its doors to Lansing teens in 1921.

The Lansing School District actually planned to raze the school during the summer of 2007, after old trophies and other keepsakes already were resting at the new Pattengill at 626 Marshall St.

Then contractors discovered asbestos in Pattengill's plaster walls and floor tiles during a pre-demolition survey.

A total of $2,044,965 will be required for asbestos removal, demolition, site restoration and remodeling of Eastern High School's facade and structural work to the area where Eastern joined Pattengill.

The abatement alone cost the district $1 million.

A former student looks on

Expecting the demolition and actually witnessing the bricks fall are two different things.

"It looks like it'll take awhile to get to my old homeroom on the second floor," said 74-year-old Bill Besley, a retired Lansing firefighter who visited the demolition site Friday morning.

The district is closing Eastern for most of the summer and staff members are working out of the new Pattengill until work is complete by Aug. 24.

Lansing officials have promised to transform the property into some combination of green space and parking for Eastern's auditorium.

Steve Serkaian, the district's spokesman, vowed that LSD would partner with Sparrow Hospital, right across the street, to make the best use of the property.

Richard Mull, a 1959 Pattengill graduate, has spent the past decades biking past the school on his way to work. He said he'll always have his memories.

Forming new memories

Others, with no Pattengill ties, visited the demolition site Friday to make new memories.

Delhi Township resident Eric Stuber placed his 18-month-old son Max on his shoulders for the demolition event.

"I thought he would enjoy it," Stuber said. "He's at that age where he enjoys the trucks and the diggers."

Sparrow spokesman John Lux took pictures for the hospital newsletter and for personal reasons, too.

"Since my wife taught there for 30 years, I thought she might like to have a picture of it coming down," he said.

Additional Facts
What's next
Excavators should raze the majority of Pattengill, which adjoins Lansing's Eastern High School, within a week, said Project Director Jerry Brand of Granger Construction.

Evidence of the old school should vanish in three weeks. Debris cleanup could continue into July.

Then workers will turn their focus to restoring and remodeling Eastern's new Jerome Street facade.


06/16/09 08:37 PM #5    

(June) Barbara A Landells (Gietzel)

Thanks, Mary, for posting the video of the razing of Pattengill. I only wished they could have taken a video of the inside before they razed it. It certainly is a sad sight to see. I wonder how many thousands of students passed through those halls during those many years. It will be interesting to see how Eastern will look when they finish renovating the outside.

06/30/09 11:16 AM #6    

(June) Glenn W "Bud" Buckborough

Mary Put me on to play golf,Ok?

07/26/09 02:53 PM #7    

(Jan. ) David W Lyon

More on Vito Perrone: In 2000 I wrote some stories about early days in Lansing. In the preface to these stories I noted the positive influence Vito had on my life. My family lived on Vermont Street in the late 1940s and Vito and his family lived across the street. It was 1949 and I was eight years old. Here is what I wrote about Vito in 2000. "Vito Perrone gave me the nickname 'Sunshine' in 1950. He also gave me sure victories in street football, large pieces of chocolate cake, and confidence when he taught me American history in high school ten years later. He would become a Big Ten champion wrestler at Michigan State University, but he was first, and foremost, my hero on home grounds. The games took place on Vermont Street between the Drooping's driveway and the streetlight in front of the Perrone house. With or without parked cards, you were out when the touched the curb. He chose me for his team because I was skinny and the youngest. When he played, we always won. If I passed the ball, he caught it. If he passed the ball, it was always in just the right place. Vito had all of the moves of a great running back, and he called me Sunshine. Before the game he would walk out of his house, the screen door slamming behind him, take a bite out of a large piece of chocolate cake, and hand another to me. 'You need to put on some weight,Sunshine. This will help.' And there I was. Eating his mother's cake, licking the dark chocolate icing from my fingers, and getting ready to win the game. Vito was my hero."

Vito was in college in those days yet he treated all the neighborhood kids like good friends. He was a wrestler but had the finesse of an artist. After writing these words about Vito I learned how successful he has been as a professor,teacher, administrator and leader in the national education community. I was not surprised. I have never forgotten the effect he had on me at such a young age.

07/28/09 12:02 AM #8    

(June) Barbara A Landells (Gietzel)

If you know of a former classmate who is dragging their feet about coming to the reunion, encourage them to attend and get their reservation in. You just never know who won't be around for the next reunion!

08/13/09 02:33 PM #9    


(June) Brenda Avis (Miller)

I am so happy that this website was erected and with such great details. It has put me back in touch with many of the friends I ran with in school. Now we all email each other every few days. Its so interesting to see their photos and hear what their life has been like. The saddest part of the website is to see all the kids who have passed on, there are soooo many. I am so happy that most of my old friends and still alive and kicking.

08/31/09 02:40 PM #10    

(June) Jenny Lee Quandt (Strait)


09/13/09 05:09 PM #11    

(June) Dawn M Battley (Wicker)

Great web site Mary! Have really enjoyed it. See you this Friday.

09/21/09 10:35 AM #12    

(June) Jenny Lee Quandt (Strait)


09/22/09 10:11 AM #13    

(June) Roger L Kowalski

Great job!!! Kudos to the committee. It was a real treat to see and talk to Don Johnson and Eleanor Doersam.

10/11/09 11:59 PM #14    

(June)The Very Rev. Anthony C Thurston

Thanks to all of you who worked on this 50th event. I was not able to come since I live so far away at this point, but the website has been fun and connecting with old friends and flames has been good. We live in the Northwest now, so no snow and sleet and ice, but lots of rain. I have convinced my kids that I used to walk a mile to Pattengill with no shoes, but barbed wire on my feet to keep from falling on the ice. I don't really thnk they belive it, but they're great kids and like to listen to the crazy stories. Best to everyone, and, again, thanks for the enjoyable and fun website.

Anthony Thurston

02/14/10 11:38 PM #15    


(June) Mary DiFiore (Pulford )


Eastern High to induct Hall of Fame class Feb. 26

The Eastern High School Athletic Hall of Fame will induct this year's class on Feb. 26. A 5 p.m. dinner will be followed with the inductees being introduced during halftime of the Eastern/Okemos boys basketball game at Don Johnson Fieldhouse. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Chris Barajas at 482-9866 or by e-mail at xdcbarajas@

This year's class includes:

• Jean Robinson Clum (class of 1964): Played volleyball, basketball, field hockey and softball and swam, and played field hockey at Michigan State. She coached the Quakers volleyball team to a 70-1 record and five league titles from 1973-78. She coached the softball team to a 148-27 record and six league titles and the 1981 state championship during her tenure from 1975-83.

• Don Feighner (1959, died 1984): Won regional and league pole vault titles in 1958, when the Quakers won their first league title since 1933, then set a regional record of 12-foot-6 as a senior before tying for second at the Class A state final at 12-10. He won that year's city meet with a vault of 13-1.

• Dr. Richard Fronczak (1957): All-state in football and a state champion wrestler before continuing at Michigan, where he wrestled three seasons.

• Tim May (1971): All-state in basketball and baseball and also golfed before playing baseball at Western Michigan. Taught, coached and was assistant athletic director at Battle Creek Central and is a member of the Battle Creek Area Amateur Sports Association Hall of Fame and Michigan Amateur Baseball Association Wall of Fame.

• George Wakulsky (1948): Football player and golfer, he won the individual league title in 1947 before playing three years at Michigan State and serving as team captain in 1958. Won the All-City match play three times, stroke play twice and senior championship twice and is in the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame.

• 1955 boys cross country team: Won city, league and then became the first Eastern cross country team to win a state championship. That Class A state title was the first of three straight for the program.

• Bill Land: Longtime volunteer who sells tickets, runs the clock at home football and basketball games and keeps varsity basketball statistics for road games.

NOTE: Classmate, Alex Valcanoff was inducted to EHS's Athletic Hall of Fame last year, I am sorry I did not get the information posted at the time.


04/08/11 07:45 AM #16    

(June) Jerry A Smith

Good morning,

This is in response to email regarding Birthday celebration. I would be interested in attending a function in the summer months of July or August.

Jerry A. Smith


09/27/11 06:58 PM #17    


(June) Mary DiFiore (Pulford )


Delicate Pink Rose Design clipartOUR CONDOLENCES



Vito Perrone

Vito Perrone Age 78, of Cambridge, died on August 24, 2011. He was born on April 26, 1933, in Bath, Michigan, the son of Joseph and Anna (D'Anna) Perrone. Vito graduated from Lansing Eastern High School and attended Michigan State University. At MSU, he was a Big Ten Wrestling Champion and an All American. After earning

his B.A., he served in the U.S. Army. While pursuing his master's and his doctorate at MSU, Vito taught social studies and coached wrestling at his former high school. Vito's first position in higher education was at Northern Michigan University where he was Associate Professor of History and Dean of Common Learning and Graduate Studies (1962-1968). In 1968, Vito became Dean of the New School of Behavioral Studies in Education and four years later Dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Dakota. In 1986, he left North Dakota to become Vice-President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Two years later, he joined the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he served as director of Teacher Education and chair of the Teaching, Curriculum, and Learning Environments Program. From 1972 until 2000, he coordinated the North Dakota Study Group on Evaluation, a national organization of teachers, school administrators, and university scholars. Vito gained national recognition for his work on educational equity, progressivism in education, and testing and evaluation. He received numerous awards and honors over the years, including the Fourth Annual Global Citizen Award from the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century in 1998 and being named the Theodore R. Sizer Senior Lecturer on Education at HGSE in 2001. In 2000, he suffered a debilitating stroke. Vito's humor, kindness, patience, and perseverance sustained him and his family during these trying times, and gradually he recuperated sufficiently to meet regularly with family and friends and to participate in the activities of the Aphasia Community Group of Boston. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Frank, Dominick, and Jack, and his sister Leonarda Bono. He is survived by his beloved wife of 55 years Carmel (Leonard) Perrone. He was the devoted father of Rev. Vito J. Perrone, C.O.S.J., of San Francisco, CA, Christopher of Invergrove Heights, MN, Patrick of Nutley, NJ, Maryann of Lyon France, Jack of Rochester, MN, Sean of Watertown, MA, and Siobhan of Danvers, MA, Brother of Rose Doeringer of Grand Rapids, MI, Also survived by many loving In-Laws, 11 grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews. Funeral from the Stanton Funeral Home 786 Mt. Auburn St. (RT16) Watertown on Saturday Sept. 3, 2011 at 9 a.m. Funeral Mass in the Sacred Heart Church, Watertown, MA, at 10 a.m. Relatives and friends respectfully invited to attend. Visiting hours Friday Sept. 2, 2011 from 4-8 P.M. Interment Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Vito's memory may be made to the Aphasia Community Group of Boston, c/o Jerome H. Kaplan, M.A., CCC-SLP, Sargent College, Boston University, 635 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215.

Published in Lansing State Journal on August 28, 2011

9/10/11 For more on Vito Perrone, click this link I received from Pat Palmer.

9/17/11 Mike McCaslin sent this link to a half-page article in today's New York Times. I have also posted it in the Message Forum but for some reason the picture did not transfer with it.

NYT U.S. | September 17, 2011
Click here: Vito Perrone Sr., Who Fought Standardized Tests, Dies at 78
Dr. Perrone's ideas on flexible teaching methods led to a loose network of public alternative schools in New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.

11/27/12 10:12 AM #18    

(June) Joan Dines (Webster)

Hi Mary,

I just visited the '57 site re their 55th reunion.  Were you there?  It sounds like their 'mix & mingle' format was well received and I would suggest the Reunion Committee consider that for our  55 yr reunion.  In fact, they had some good suggestions in their Message Forum.

Have a happy holiday!

Joan Webster

09/09/13 11:15 AM #19    

(June) Marilyn Kell (Sample)

Mary, thanks for all the work you have done on this website.  It has been raining all morning, and I have spent the time going through all of the "In Memory" obituaries.  The commitment and time you have spent on this website cannot be appreciated enough by all of us.  Thank you so very much.


Marilyn Sample

go to top 
  Post Response