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Gaetano M. Cecchini

First Impressions Last a Lifetimeme

It was March 1975 and I had just flown in from Columbus to Canton. I was meeting an owner of five McDonald's franchises to discuss a purchase agreement at the Top Chalet restaurant in Canton, which has been gone now for many years. Curiously, the owner had brought a guest for lunch, Brother Robert Francoeur. We had lunch. We talked business. And at the end, Brother Francoeur handed me a Walsh College fund raiser event ticket for $250! That was a lot of money for an event, but I wanted to stay in the good graces of the McDonald's owner, so I wrote the check and bought the ticket. Honestly, I didn't even attend the event. But I was so impressed by this charismatic man that I remained in contact with Brother Francoeur and came to know more about this small gem, Walsh College, in North Canton

After I purchased the McDonald's franchises and moved to Canton, I became even more involved with Walsh. Brother Francoeur was very intelligent, not many people knew he held 5 or 6 degrees, in addition, of course, to being an excellent fund raiser. One of those degrees was in law from The University of Akron. When he retired as President of Walsh College, Brother Francoeur came to work for me as one of my legal consultants with Ohio Operator Association. I remember once in May 1975 he helped to organize a McDonald's Franchise meeting in Chicago. I showed up and found that because he was involved in the organization of the event he had earned the penthouse suite in our hotel and I, a McDonald's owner, had a regular room! Over the years, my relationship with Walsh has even included a more global perspective. When Walsh wanted to expand its campus to Rome, Italy, I was proud to help by showing the current Walsh President and faculty members around my beloved country.

Over the years I have watched Walsh grow, struggle and grow again. I am proud to have played a humble part in establishing that legacy. And I'm proud to be openly linked to Walsh with the dedication of the Gaetano M. Cecchini Family Health and Wellness Complex in 2008. It makes me smile to think how one lunch could have resulted in two constants in my life for over 30 years…Cicchini Enterprises and Walsh University