By Gay Eyerman
In 1961, Chris Schraff was a freshman at Saint Ignatiusand the world was a different place. "It was the calm before the storm," Chris recalls. "We weren't far into the 1960s turmoil yet. We were among the last of the classes to share our parents' belief that you work hard, go to school, get a great job and life will be OK. We graduated and found things were more challenging than we expected."
Chris rose to the challengeand then some. He knew how to work hard, paying his own tuition with an afterschool job as a messenger for Jones Day law firm in downtown Cleveland. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree from John Carroll University and his law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School. Chris is now an attorney with Porter Wright in Columbus, Ohio, where he was named Environmental Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers® in 2010.
Life at Saint Ignatius
Coming from Cleveland's east side, Chris says Saint Ignatius "opened my eyes to kids from all over the city." He took part on the debate team and was inspired by teachers like Mr. Fleck in Latin, who "gently prodded me to work harder, with competitions between homerooms." And Fr. James Von Tobel "was a great role model for young men. He ran a tight ship in the classroom but would also shoot baskets with us."
In the 1960s, Chris describes the "Men for Others" culture as a feeling of being connected to other students, all carrying a heavy academic load. "But it was not just about us. In our sodality, we did works of charity and prayer."
While still in college, Chris served on the Saint Ignatius Alumni Council. "I couldn't contribute financially at that point, but it made me aware of students in need. When I was successful as a professional, I started making annual contributions and funding a life insurance policy for the school as part of my estate plan." An avid reader of history and biographies, Chris also loves donating books to the school library.
"If you've been fortunate in life and accumulated assets, it only makes sense to make a financial impact for those who need help," Chris believes. "Not just impoverished families but even the middle class struggle to pay for a Saint Ignatius education. That's an incentive to me."
Chris finds great reward in funding a legacy that will continue when he is gone. "I'm not sure I'd be where I am now without Saint Ignatius High School. It was wonderful preparation for life after high schoolfor college, setting goals, building discipline. It was an educational foundation for life."