23 Tristaters offer appreciations

Sunday, May 10, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Bits of wisdom from Mom have been chronicled for years, which led the Enquirer to ask prominent Tristaters to recall the most important lesson they learned from their mothers. A recurring theme emerged: Work hard, but always put family first. Here's a look at lessons from 23 mothers who helped shape the lives of Greater Cincinnatians.

Bob Graeter with his mother, Mary Jo Graeter.
(Yoni Pozner photos)
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Bob Graeter

With a name like Graeter, you'd think the dinner conversations at Bob Graeter's house might center on ice cream and candy.

But that table talk was rare when he was growing up in Terrace Park, and Mr. Graeter credits his mother, Mary Jo, for reserving time at home for family -- not the family business.

"My dad worked long hours at the plant, but my mother had nothing to do with the business," says Mr. Graeter, 42, vice president of production operations at the 125 year-old Cincinnati confectionery. "So I think it was important for him (his father) and us to be able to come home to her every night."

Mrs. Graeter lives with her husband, Louis, in East Walnut Hills. When Mr. Graeter left the family business to get his MBA and then to work at Procter & Gamble, his mother supported him. When he returned five years later, she supported him again.

"She stands behind her kids, no matter what," he says.

Family is more important than business -- that was his biggest lesson.

"She showed us how to build a family and to be there for our kids," says Mr. Graeter, the father of three young daughters.

Jason C. Lin credits much of his success to his mother, Yuen Lin.
(Yoni Pozner photos)
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Jason C. Lin

Seventeen-year-old Jason C. Lin of Fairfield, a senior at St. Xavier High School in Finneytown, received a perfect 1600 score on his SAT exam. He'll attend Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, majoring in computer engineering and genetic engineering. He credits much of his success to his mother, Yuen Lin, who owns the Golden Chef Restaurant in Fairfield with his father, Fu Lin. "I think the most important lesson I learned from my mother is hard work, probably because she's worked hard her whole life and ours just to provide for us. She works 80-plus hours a week in the restaurant, and then she goes home and cleans. She's helped me to achieve my goals and try to excel at whatever I do."

Kristin Titko

Kristin Titko, 30, of Sharonville is team podiatrist for the Reds, Cyclones and Silverbacks and is in private practice with her father, Jerry. She's on the executive board of the local chapter of the American Diabetes Association.

Her mother, Phyllis Titko, a public relations representative, lives in Montgomery.

"My parents were divorced," Dr. Titko says. "My mother raised me and my brother alone. So while my father spoiled us, she was the one who had to make all the rules.

"The most important lessons were to set goals for myself, and then strive to achieve them; always follow up and do what I say I'm going to do. She taught me to always be myself, and not change to make other people happy."

Cincinnati Fire Chief Robert Wright's mother, Susie Wright, gave her family lessons in respect.
(Glenn Hartong photos)
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Robert Wright

Cincinnati Fire Chief Robert Wright, 47, was 6 years old in 1957 when his father, Willie, died of complications from appendicitis. His mother, Susie Wright, was a month away from giving birth to her sixth child.

Still, that was the year Mrs. Wright made sure the family realized its dream of moving out of an apartment and into a house. Then she made sure that their Evanston home, where she still lives today, had a nurturing environment.

"It was a house where you had to learn discipline, you had to learn to wait your turn on a lot of things," Chief Wright says, chuckling at the memory. "But it was a house where she taught you to respect others and, most of all, your family.

"She would not let you quit. Perseverance was her second-biggest thing. Family was No. 1."

Only after he had experienced life in the Army -- with all its constraints and curtailed freedoms -- could Chief Wright fully appreciate his mother.

Then he began to understand: Surely she missed her freedom. Surely there were many times when she had wanted to do things besides care for six children. But for more than 20 years, she stayed home and devoted herself to them.

Mrs. Wright was able to stretch her husband's pension to meet their needs. In turn, she taught her children to be frugal, to save money for important things.

"I was poor," Chief Wright says, "but I didn't know I was poor." His mother made sure of that.

Karen Hendricks

Karen Hendricks, CEO of Baldwin Piano and Organ Co., Loveland, says, "My mom (Betty Lafferty of Shelby, Ohio) taught me that you're never too old to learn something new. She has a real sense of adventure. Right now she's becoming computerized at the age of 80.

"She also told me that hard work gets you 90 percent of the way and that you've got to stick to the job until it's done. These are really basic rules, but they've helped me a lot.

Sister Alice Gerdeman

Sister Alice Gerdeman, a 51-year-old Catholic nun, is director of the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center in Over-the-Rhine. She was the oldest of eight children born to Otto, 86, and Bertha Gerdeman, 79, who brought up their family on a farm near Kalida in northwest Ohio.

"One of the things my mother said over and over was, "A woman's work is never done.' She didn't say it in a down way. I think it applies to anyone who in concerned about their family or the world. You're work doesn't end. It just changes."

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4
Bob Graeter
Jason C. Lin
Kristin Titko
Robert Wright
Karen Hendricks
Sister Alice Gerdeman
Joe Nuxhall
Jerry Carroll
Alison Boynton
Ross Love
Megan McKnight
Aimee Hurst
Timothy Lees
Katie Brown Blackburn
Bishop Robert Muench
Nick and Drew Lachey
Dale Hodges
Alex Chin
Vicki Lewis
Sharon Kohn
Eduardo Perez

Enquirer reporters John Johnston, Sue MacDonald, Jim Knippenberg, Cresta Williams, Reon Carter, Owen Findsen, John Kiesewetter, Cindy Kranz, Larry Nager, Jackie Demaline, Chuck Martin, Reon Carter, Mark Curnutte, Maxine Berkman, Polly Campbell, Margaret A. McGurk and Scott MacGregor contributed to this report.

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