Being inducted as 2018 Belleville High School Distinguished Graduates on Friday, April 27, will be: Rosemary Loria, Class of 1966 and Jack Loria, Class of 1964; Timothy Katona, Class of 1973; Lois Mida Zilka, Class of 1954; and James Sayre, Class of 1946, a posthumous honor.
Rosemary and Jack Loria
Jack and Rosemary Loria are life-long residents of the Belleville area. Jack moved to the city of Belleville at age 2 with his family. Rosemary lived in the city with her parents until moving to Van Buren Township as a toddler.
Both attended St. Anthony Grade School and graduated from Belleville High School, he in 1964 and she in 1966.
Jack and Rosemary married in 1969 and lived in Van Buren Township until purchasing their home in the city in 1972, where they raised their two children and still reside today.
Rosemary spent most of her “work” years on Main Street: Mel’s Cleaners, Young’s Market, and 21 years at the H.R. Deering Agency. She retired in 2005 from Van Buren Public Schools after 10 years.
Jack spent 38 years with American Airlines. In 1974 he joined the Belleville Fire Department where he volunteered for 27 years, retiring in 2005 as Fire Chief.
Over the years, Jack and Rosemary have given many volunteer hours with Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, St. Anthony School, BHS Swimming, BHS Football, umpiring softball and baseball, BHS musicals, and being involved with the original Strawberry Festival at St. Anthony Church.
They say being active in the city of Belleville has been a pleasure over the many years where both have served on the Planning Commission (Jack), Belleville City Council (both), and the Belleville Downtown Development Authority (Rosemary). Currently Jack is Mayor Pro-Tem on the City Council and Rosemary is Chairperson of the Belleville DDA.
Jack graduated from BHS in 1964 and from Cleary College in 1970. He was with American Airlines from 1968 to 2005 and has worked for the Van Buren Public Schools from 2007 to the present. He served on the Belleville Fire Department from 1974 to 2005 and was chief from 1993 to 2005. He is a registered official for MHSAA Baseball and Softball. He has been a volunteer with BHS football for more than 20 years.
Timothy John Katona
Timothy John Katona, BHS 1973, was proclaimed “The Pride of a Champion” in the headlines of The Toldeo Blade on Oct. 30, 1983, just a short ten years after graduation from BHS. He trained with the finest to master the art of training and riding Reining Horses.
One must consider themselves fortunate to make a living doing what they love to do and for Tim, Reining and Training and Teaching had been inculcated at a young age with a pony at age five, then to POAs, on to Appaloosas to Quarter Horses. Competition in local and state 4-H nourished the seeds of competitiveness.
Tim graduated in June of 1973 and while friends went off to colleges and universities, he wanted to apprentice to one of the finest horse trainers in the United States, Oscar “Shorty” Russell of Brownwood, Texas. On Sept. 25, 1973, Tim left Belleville to evolve his avocation into his vocation. After years of training and competition in local, state, and National Reining events, Tim became a National Reining Horse Champion many times — as numerous trophies, cash prizes, and tack attest.
But, Tim saw a void in Reining competition. There was no youth program. Nowhere could young people compete beyond the local level. He saw a need and set about filling it by planning, organizing, and convincing the Michigan and National Reining Horse Associations to establish a Youth Michigan Reining Horse Association competition and a Youth National Reining Horse Association competition mirroring the adult programs with trophies, tack, and cash prizes. Today — through Tim’s vision, verascity, determination, and skill — young programs exist in all 51 states and internationally.
With the help of an avid Reiner — Bob Evans of restauranteur fame — Tim established a training curriculum and training sessions for potential judges state and nationwide. He conducted numerous workshops and on-site simulations that established champion standards that have upheld the test of time. He still trains students and horses in the sport of Reining at his facility located at 44641 Bemis Road, Sumpter Township.
On Feb. 10, 2017, Tim Katona was recognized as the recipient of the “2017 Dale Wilkinson Lifetime Achievement Award” at the National Reining Horse Association Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, “For his contribution to the horse loving youth of the nation.”
Lois Mida Zilka
Lois Mida Zilka, BHS Class of 1954, was born and raised at her home on Ecorse Road and attended Belleville schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. She spent four years as a library assistant. In her senior year, she was voted in as the Y-Teen president. She performed in the junior and senior plays. Lastly, she was a part of the Girls Athletic Association (GAA). Lois is currently involved in the preparation and organization of the Belleville All-School Reunion and the annual Class of 1954 Reunion, as well. She was instrumental in forming the Class of 1954 Reunions and hosts them at her home.
Lois was married in August of 1954 and moved to Canton Township where she still resides. She raised four children and now has seven grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, as well. As one of the co-founders, Lois organizes and hosts yearly family reunions.
Lois was a 4-H leader and Cub Scout den leader. She has cooked meals for the local Salvation Army church for the last 20-plus years. Lois retired in 1992 from Wayne-Westland Community Schools where she was the Pupil Accounting Secretary. Since then, she has taken on the role of Area Director for MARSP (Michigan Association for Retired School Personnel) for 13 school districts. She was awarded a certificate of dedication in volunteerism from the Wayne-Westland Head Start Program where she spent hundreds of hours volunteering. Lastly, she is a member of the Fraternal Order of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs and received their highest form of recognition: The Degree of Chivalry.
Lois joined the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church when she was just 16 years old. She has been a staple in the church choir for over 65 years. Other church activities have included hand bell choir, giving communion to shut-in church members, Sunday School teacher and superintendent, chaperone for the youth group, and counselor for catechism camp.
James Sayre, posthumous
Jim Sayre was a 1946 graduate of BHS and attended Michigan State University for one year, having to return to the family farm to help his parents.
He was a lifetime farmer. He was past president of the Belleville Jaycees and past Rotarian in Belleville.
He served eight years as member of Van Buren School Board, was a member of the Kellogg Farmer Program, and a 16-year member of the Board of Directors for the Michigan Farm Bureau.
He was the owner and operator of Sayre’s Red Barn Market and Pick-Your-Own farm.
After retirement he enjoyed restoring old tractors and was a charter member of the Tri-County Two-Cylinder Club. He also sat on the Board of Directors of the Stony Creek United Methodist Church.
Induction ceremonies for the Belleville High School Honor Society and the BHS Distinguished Graduates begin at 7 p.m. Friday at the BHS Auditorium.
It is preceded by a 5 p.m. special dinner for all Distinguished Graduates and others in the BHS Commons and a 6 p.m. tour of BHS. Call BHS at 697-9133 for information.