George’s Journal

Thanks for visiting. It’s exciting to be here in 2012. While my health has generally been good and progressing steadily, my Dad’s has unfortunately declined over the past five months. Many of you know John V. Ghindia.  He is 86-years old, born on Columbus Day (10/12/25), and has led an illuminating life.  Demonstrating what is possible for all.

I have always considered it an privilege to boast about my Dad (and Mom). And I do not want to save it for when he is no longer with us. Some highlights of Dad’s All-American Story:

Dad is the second child (Aunt Olympia’s little brother) of Romanian immigrant steelworkers (John & Mary) who landed in Niles, Ohio in 1916; later moving to Ecorse, Michigan, a mill town, bordering SW Detroit along the Detroit River, or “Downriver.”

Champion

As the youngest high school basketball coach in Michigan history (interim coach at Ecorse as 16-year old Junior), Dad led the Red Raiders to the Class B State Championship game. He was a member of Ecorse High Rowing Eight crew that in 1943 won both the National High School Championship and North American Rowing Eight’s Open Championship (after upsetting the NCAA Champs). He headed to the University of Michigan, and was a linebacker, quarterback (started in 1949) and 3-year letterman (1947-49) – All three Big 9/10 Conference Championship teams. He was a key contributor on two (2) undefeated NCAA National Champions (1947-48) under legendary coaches Fritz Crisler and Bennie Oosterbaan The team traveled to Pasadena by train and beat USC 49-0 in the 1948 Rose Bowl. He earned Bachelor & Master Degrees from Michigan and pledged Phi Delta Theta. According to TheWolverine.com, Dad is one of the foundational bricks the Michigan Athletic program was built on. Dad’s life-long support of U of M is well known and respected. He’s the definition of a “Michigan Man.”

University of Michigan | 1948 National Champions | 9-0 | JVG #23

football

* Please click on the “Photos” link at the top of the page for more images of Dad

Hall of Fame Dad & Husband / Patriarch

Mom (Katherine Sue Tallman) & Dad were married “somewhere in Indiana,” April 10, 1956. We had a blast celebrating their 45th and Golden anniversaries. They have 5 kids (all earning at least Bachelor Degree, with 3 athletic scholarships), and 2 sons-in-law Terry & Mark. Cheryl lost her father when she was 25, so when we married 14+ years ago, Dad naturally embraced her as his own. Grandpa’s pride and joy are his 7 grandchildren: Colleen, Emily, Tyler, Nick, Jennifer, Jacquelyne and Eva. To his 15 nieces and nephews, it’s “Uncle Johnny.”  My Godmother, Aunt Sylvia (Barbot) Caruso, is his only first-cousin…really his “little” sister.  She met my Godfather, Uncle Bruno, at Melvindale High School. Our family’s roots are in the gritty, working class towns:  Detroit, Ecorse, Lincoln Park, Melvindale and Niles. Aunt “Limpy” and Uncle Gil Sutherland moved to Trenton first, then the Carusos and finally the Ghindias (1973). Sumner & Addien Tallman were from Tennessee, and moved to Detroit, then Lansing to raise my Uncles Sunny, Tom & Jack, and Mom, before settling in Lincoln Park in the 1940s.  Both sets of Grandparents were great, and always just a few minutes away. How fortunate for us.

Dad has been honored with selections to four (4) Hall of Fames: Michigan High School Coaches HOF, Michigan Catholic High School HOF, Michigan High School Officials HOF and Michigan Tennis HOF.  He coached football, basketball & baseball at Wyandotte St. Patrick and hockey & tennis at Ecorse High School, winning over 600 games and numerous championships.  When the Ecorse hockey coach fell ill just prior to the 1966-67 season, the principal asked Dad to step in for a one-year stint. He picked up hockey right away, using his unique leadership skills to propel Ecorse to runner-up in the state championships.

A few years later, Dad was asked to take over the Ecorse tennis program, with no experienced players and 4 crumbling cement courts (fencing for nets) in a rough neighborhood. He ramped up learning from Jean Hoxie, legendary coach at Hamtramck High http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Hoxie. Dad’s scrappy kids proceeded to battle and best Coach Hoxie’s top-ranked squads, featuring nationally ranked players, for a number of league championships. He compelled Ecorse to build 6 tournament caliber courts.

Dad always let me tag along. I learned tennis by banging thousands of balls against the gym walls at Hamtramck & Ecorse High Schools, and the plywood boards Dad put up in our garage.  He made it easy for all of us to play competitive sports: hockey (all 5 of us), football (John & me), tennis (Suzy, Mary Beth, Janet & me), track/shot put (John), volleyball (Suzy), baseball (John & me), and basketball (me).

Dad’s primary profession was educator/math teacher for 33 years at Lincoln Park and Ecorse High Schools, plus Henry Ford Community College. But he ALWAYS worked 3, 4 or 5 jobs to support our family of seven; including: Ecorse Recreation Director (late 50s/60s/early 70s), football and basketball officiating (high school, college), real estate and insurance sales, and tax-return specialist!  Through the years Dad has helped a large number of student-athletes from the Downriver area secure athletic scholarships to the University of Michigan and other colleges throughout the country.

Role Model / Community Leader / Patriot

“Pioneer” and “Doer” are other words that describe Dad. He was a major contributor to the growth of youth hockey in Michigan, boys and girls. He has served in Kiwanis 40+ years, including terms as President. Mom and Dad are long-time parishioners/benefactors at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, where Dad serves as an Usher. Dad met Mom at the West Shore Golf Club (Grosse Ile). He’s always been a low-handicap golfer, with 2 Holes-in-One. He first shot his age for 18 holes at 70-years old and most recently at 84. Dad has been the organizer and a perennial champion of several Senior Golf Leagues.  Add “Gold Medalist,” at numerous Senior Olympics, to his list of accomplishments. Dad loves playing cards, and has won countless local championships in Bridge, Pinochle and Euchre – most recently last summer. My parents love the Trenton Senior Programs at the Westfield Activities Center (thank you and hugs to Carol Garrison).

A World War II Army Air Core B-24 Bombardier, Dad is part of the “greatest generation.” His character, integrity, devotion to family, faith in God, patriotism, loyalty, love, compassion, work ethic, and servant leadership have provided me with the only role model I’ve ever needed. My sisters (Mary Beth, Suzanne, Janet), John and I have been extremely blessed.

Commitment to Kids / Top Recreation Program

Early in his career, Dad had many opportunities to move from high school to the college ranks. Many of his Michigan teammates, including Bump Elliott (Head Coach, Michigan, University of Iowa Athletic Director), Bob Holloway (Defensive Coordinator, Minnesota Vikings, Head Coach, St. Louis Cardinals) and Tubby Raymond (Head Coach, Football and Athletic Director, University of Delaware) invited him to join them. Dad’s passion, however, was working with young kids as a high school educator/coach and head of Parks and Recreation in Ecorse.

What was it like growing up in Ecorse? For the most part, great!  Every year, Dad’s P & R team offered hundreds of kids the opportunity to go on several fun field trips, including: Detroit Tiger and Red Wing games, Bob-Lo Island (Ioved the boat ride) and Cedar Point Amusement Parks, and Detroit Zoo. Dad would coax a free meal for everyone from the local Burger King or McDonalds. Taking a bus was a treat, since everyone walked to school.

Ecorse’s youth hockey and baseball programs were among the best in Michigan and probably the entire country (just ask Mike Illitch, owner of the Tigers, Red Wings and Little Ceasars), providing kids uniforms, ball fields, ice time, leagues, referees, trophies to winners, and clinics for FREE. Dad also hosted one of the Midwest’s top men’s Slo-Pitch Softball tournaments.

I started playing hockey 1967 on an outdoor rink (shoveled between periods). Soon after, Ecorse covered the rink and Dad caught a plane to Los Angeles to buy a Zamboni (from founder Frank Zamboni). Summers were spent at our neighborhood park (Beach Street…next to the railroad tracks) under the supervision of teenage park leaders. We played chess, checkers and knock-hockey, and made potholders, key chains, et al.

Ecorse parents had “peace of mind” for hours every day knowing their kids were safely entertained. Dad’s team staged an annual 4th of July annual festival featuring various races (sack, three-legged) and contests (pie-eating!) at the “Muni” (Municipal Field). Services and benefits were provided for no charge, perhaps a buck for the field trips. The local steel mill was pumping out tonnage and generating local tax revenues…and Dad always knew how to get the biggest bang out of a budget. He created healthy, happy times for all the Ecorse kids!

Hometown Boy / World Traveler

As mentioned, Dad has lived in the Downriver area since the early 1930s, Mom since the mid-1940s. While many of their friends escape to Florida every winter, my parents (mostly) love being “Downriver,” enjoying family and attending Michigan football & basketball games. Dad likes raking leaves and trimming hedges.  Once, we got him a big snow-removal machine for Christmas…it sat in the garage unused for years. Dad’s a genuine “do-it-yourself” guy.

“Johnny” & Sue have road tripped all over the USA including a couple dozen times to California, Colorado and Florida.  We have fond memories of childhood cross-country trips in our Mercury Colony Park station wagon, a genuine land yacht.  Mom & Dad always made/make stops along the way to visit friends & family and to enjoy the sights and rich history of our great country.  Annual trips to the Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, have been a highlight; especially dancing to the music of family-friend Bob Snyder’s Band.  While Hawaii and Alaska are two of their favorite destinations, they’ve cruised the world, i.e., Russia, Sweden, Italy, London England, Ireland, the Caribbean, Greece, Egypt and many other places. A recent Christmas Card featured them at the Great Pyramids. Oh yes, Mom and Dad relish life…and they’ve had a grand retirement!

Good Time to Check In

Aging is a complex, challenging process. Many times over the years Dad – the epitome of an active, independent Senior – has mentioned to me how he is unable to walk as much due swollen feet, golf as frequently, and use his hands/fingers (carpel tunnel). He wasn’t complaining, just sharing his reality, i.e., some frustrations of growing old.

Dad has been plagued by congestive heart failure for 12+ years. Now it’s coming to a head. He’s been in-and-out of intensive care since October. I doubt others would have made it, much less endured the aftermath. He’s the toughest man I’ve ever known, practicing what he preached as a coach, “When you get knocked down, you get right back up!” We’re doing everything possible to keep him comfortable. John & Mom are caring for him 24/7. His vital organs, particularly kidneys, are adversely affected by the progressive heart disease (poor blood circulation). Dad’s undergone dialysis since December. He’s still lucid and sharp, though his energy has dramatically waned. Thanks to John’s careful maneuvering, he recently attended Michigan’s big basketball victory over Ohio State – a real blessing, since it made him very happy. I’ve been praying that Dad experience some joy every day. Sadly, however, it’s increasingly a struggle for him to stay alert and communicate.

I’m sure my Mom would appreciate hearing from you. As with many of our elder parents, she’s going through a difficult adjustment. Dad will love to know you’re thinking about him. It will give him a boost. If you need their address or phone number, please contact John at 313.909.9728 / johnrghindia@hotmail.com or me at 925.366.5000 / gwghindia@gmail.com.

Special thanks to Dad’s wonderful medical and spiritual teams! The care Dad has received is first-class. Our family is grateful to all who have helped and continue to support him, and my Mom, including Father Brad Forintos and his staff at St. Joseph.

While we have been awed by the Lord’s miraculous healing power, and do not know what His plan is for Dad, the next week or two would be a good time for you to drop him a line. God bless you. Thanks for reading about my Dad and remembering him in your prayers.

I love you Dad…

George

“With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

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