Chamber gives nod to achievers

HURON Monday's Gallery of Achievers awards ceremony put together by the Erie Chamber of Commerce tur
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010



Monday's Gallery of Achievers awards ceremony put together by the Erie Chamber of Commerce turned out to be something of a family affair.

The annual chamber event, which began in 2001, racked up its first father-daughter and mother-son combos Monday when it honored Wendy Kromer Schell, the daughter of 2003 honoree Robert Kromer and Dr. Thomas Steinemann, the son of 2001 honoree Virginia Steinemann.

The luncheon at Sawmill Creek drew a crowd of about 130, including many friends and relatives of the honorees.

It represented a "celebration of family and friends and community," said William Lally, superintendent of Erie Huron Ottawa Educational Services Center, who served as the master of ceremonies.

Here's a look at the honorees:

* Allen Bohl upgraded the sports programs at three different universities while serving as athletic director for the University of Toledo, Fresno State University and the University of Kansas. A professor of sports management at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla., he recently published his first novel, "Back Porch Swing."

Bohl, a 1966 Vermilion High graduate, said he's particularly pleased to represent his old school. He introduced the school's principal, Michael Colatruglio, and superintendent, Bruce Keller, who sat at his table.

* Jude Frederick Brown warmed up for his career as a naval architect by operating engine rooms for Great Lakes ore freighters. He led the team that designed the propulsion system for the Navy's next generation of attack submarines. The world-class sailor and racer has now been asked by the U.S. Navy to help design the next generation of destroyers.

The 1977 Perkins High graduate said his high school math teacher, Joe Taylor, and physics teacher, Paul Murschel, were big influences on his career.

* Wendy Kromer Schell was a successful European model based in Paris for 10 years before she launched her second career as a prominent chef. A first-place blue ribbon at a New York City cooking competition caught the attention of Martha Stewart's family of companies, and she's been featured for years in Stewart's magazines and TV show as well as other publications and TV shows.

Having sampled life in Paris and other locales around the world, Schell decided Sandusky had everything she wanted. The 1979 alumna of St. Mary Central Catholic School owns Wendy Kromer's Confections in downtown Sandusky, which reaches clients around the world through her Web site.

* James Landoll established a huge children's book publishing company, Landoll Publishing Co., and has fulfilled his longtime dream of owning his own castle by opening Landoll Castle, a medieval-style resort located near Mohican State Park. His most amazing business success may have come after a big fire destroyed his book publishing plant in Ashland in 1992. The bank got all of Landoll's insurance money, but he rebuilt his company from scratch.

"I believe in working hard, working until the job is finished," Landoll told the crowd. "Never give up, no matter what."

* James L. McCrystal, the only posthumous honoree, enjoyed a distinguished career as an Erie County judge. He established the first full-time adult probation department in Erie County. But he was best known for pioneering the use of videotape in trials, an innovation that allowed him to try three times as many civil jury cases than the average state judge.

McCrystal's award was accepted for him by his son, James L. McCrystal Jr., who said the family is pleased with the honor.

* Thomas Lawrence Steinemann is considered one the country's top eye doctors and eye surgeons. He practices at Cleveland Metrohealth Center and one day a month at Firelands Regional Medical Center.

Steinemann, who once gave tennis lessons to honoree Wendy Schell, thanked his wife Susan and his family for their support.

"Dad, you were right -- the harder I worked, the luckier I got," he said.

* Jude Theibert rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel during his Army career and collected many medals, including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. A star athlete at Sandusky High and a member of Army's football team at West Point, Theibert lost his right leg during the Vietnam War.

Theibert and his wife, Jo Ann, had lived in 14 communities and 17 houses, but after a 29-year Army career, they moved back to Sandusky.