Five people inducted into the VLS Hall of Fame on January 30

Every year, past and present members of the Vermilion Local Schools community are honored and recognized by being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Whether being honored as former students, coaches, or educators, each of these individuals contributed something special to the community. The Hall of Fame inductions took place on Tuesday, January 30, during the Vermilion Boys Varsity basketball game.

Michael  Gerken

Mike was born and raised in Vermilion. He attended Valley View Elementary, South Street Junior High, and Vermilion High School. After graduation Mike attended Bowling Green State University on an athletic scholarship.

In Mike’s high school years he excelled in wrestling. As a Varsity wrestler Mike had a record of 95-6. He was a three-time Sectional champion, one-time District runner up, and two-time District champion. In 1977 he finished second in the State Wrestling tournament. In 1978 Mike was State champion at 105 lbs.

After college Mike was hired at Lithonia Lighting based in Vermilion. He later was transferred to their Chicago facility. Mike later returned to the area to work at Freeman Environmental.

Mike is a resident of Lorain with his wife Valerie and son Trenton. For the past twenty-five years he has worked for Ford Motor Company located in Avon Lake. His current position is Launch manager.


U.S. Army Sergeant John L. Kotora

John L. Kotora did not go to Viet Nam to die.  He went to fulfil a sense of duty and honor.  He went to fight for a country he believed in.  After he was wounded, dozens of letters sent to him never made it to his bedside.  Alone in a foreign land, without any comfort from home, he died for a country he believed in.

Every generation is asked to pay a price for freedom.  Sometimes that price is measured in blood as it was with Sgt. John L. Kotora on May 3, 1970.  Sometimes it is measured in life changing grief, as it was with his parents Dominic and Mary.  Sometimes it is measured in the loss of a good brother, as it was by Louie, Tom and Donna.  Sometimes it is measured by the absence of a good friend as it was with the friends and neighbors John left behind in Vermilion, Ohio, and a half a world away from a place called Viet Nam.

Indeed, no man is an island unto himself and no man, who is a good man, truly dies alone.  To the next generation, know this; that we here today pause to remember Sgt. John L. Kotora but choose to speak to you.

To remind you, that in fighting for what you truly believe in, you alone have the power to change the world in which we all live.


Allie LaForce

Allie LaForce graduated as Valedictorian from VHS in 2007.   She represented her city, state, and country as Miss Teen USA in 2005.  Travels included a USO tour in Germany, a 90-mile ride from Boston to Hyannis Port for the Shriver family foundation “Best Buddies”, and speaking to local high schools around the country.  She was a national spokesperson for Sparrow Clubs and adopted a member of the Vermilion community to raise money to cover medical expenses.  During this time she was also a four sport athlete in basketball, softball, track and volleyball.  She earned four varsity letters in basketball and received the MVP honor in softball.  Allie was also a student council member, Soundsation Show Choir member, Honors Choir member and theatre program participant.

Her love for basketball ultimately followed her to Ohio University where she played collegiately.  She was active in the Scripps School of Journalism as a producer for Emmy Award winning “Gridiron Glory”, while also producing and hosting the college football coach’s show, “Bobcat Blitz” before graduating Magna Cum Laude from the Honors Tutorial College.

After college, she worked for Cleveland’s Fox8 News, where she won an Emmy as host for “Friday Night Touchdown.”  She went on to work as a sports reporter and host for CBS national.  She was given the title of lead sideline reporter for the SEC on CBS and the coveted Army/Navy game.  She is also a reporter for college basketball and the NCAA tournament, host of the first-ever all-female national sports show, “We Need To Talk”, and works the sidelines for the NBA on TNT.

She continues to give back to the community.  She and her husband Joe started their own charity, “Help Cure HD” to raise money and awareness for Huntington’s Disease.


Richard Masin

Richard was born in 1925 in Lorain, where he lived with his younger sister, mom and dad, through graduation from Lorain High School in 1943. He then enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Prior to serving in the South Pacific Theater during World War II, his Navy training consisted of attending classes at the University of Illinois and Landing Craft School in San Diego, California. After discharge from the service, he enrolled at Kent State University in the Industrial Arts program to receive a B.S. teaching degree in 1949. Subsequent to this, he received an M.S. degree in Education at Kent State University.

In 1949, he married to Eleanor Reilly. Their marriage lasted 62 years until her death in 2010. Her support and management skills created a prime environment on their small farm for Richard and their seven children. He was able to improve his teaching skills in the field of Industrial Arts. He became more experienced by working as a supervisor on building sites, doing carpentry and drafting. His children, Rich, Barry, Dale, Maureen, Kathy, Jeanie and Sean also provided a great source of how to best work with students of different ages and temperaments.

Richard spent an enjoyable 20 years of teaching Industrial Arts were spent at Vermilion Schools. Some of the student accomplishments included planning and constructing a geodesic dome, props for theater productions, foundation drawings and construction of an athletic stadium, drawing plans and constructing furniture and entering them in industrial arts exhibits. One of his favorite student projects was for eighth graders and entailed building Adirondack chairs. He spent an additional ten years of teaching took place at Clearview and Perkins Schools.

All of his experiences in teaching were enjoyable and satisfying; he likes to think of them as being very student-focused in terms of good possible future employment. His wish is that the Industrial Arts program would be reintroduced into the local school systems.


Charles T. Trinter

Charles graduated from VHS with honors in the class of 1969 as one of the top 5 seniors. While in high school he participated in concert band, football, basketball and NHS. He continued his education at The Ohio State University. While attending OSU, Charles actively participated in Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, Ag College Council and the Dairy Science club. Charles graduated in 1972 with a B.S. in Agriculture with distinction in Dairy Science, was named one of the top 5 seniors in the College of Agriculture and was linked into Sphinx Senior honorary.

Charles returned to the family farming operation in Vermilion Township to pursue a career in dairy milk production and became active in the Lorain County and state Dairy Herd Improvement associations, eventually serving 9 years on the Ohio DHIA board of directors. He was a 4-H club advisor and was appointed to the Erie County Fair board in 1972 and has served as a director for 45 years.

Charles is a member of Vermilion St. Mary Catholic church where he met his wife Barbara whom he married on January 2, 1988. Their three children; Joseph, Rebecca and David, are all graduates of VHS. After dispersing his milking herd in 1999, Charles became more active in his church by becoming a Confirmation teacher and program coordinator in 2002 and continues in the role today. With his children participating, he became a CYO sports coach and athletic director at St. Mary until 2013. He is also a Eucharistic minister and member of the Knights of Columbus.  When his children attended VHS, he participated in band and choral booster activities. Over the years, he has volunteered in many ways including serving on advisory committees, chaperoning trips, working concessions stands and even donating animals for classroom science projects.

Charles was appointed to the Vermilion Township Zoning Commission in 1994 and eventually elected a township Trustee in 2009 and continues to serve in that capacity today. He owns and operates Trinter Farms Inc., a diversified beef and crop farming operation with his son Joseph.



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