Friday, November 13, 2015

Johnny Risko Part 2

Unlike the older editions, the Lorain City Directories of the late 1930s included Sheffield Lake, so it’s easy to locate Johnny Risko and his family in the listings.

The books reveal that John N. and Anna Risko’s restaurant was right where it is today – at 4219 Lake Road.

Apparently the property also included a gas station. A tragic accident occurred there in early October 1936. As reported in the Lorain Journal on October 5, 1936, an automobile crashed into a broken down freight truck at Stop 84, E. Lake Road. A Lorain grocer, A. W. Thomas and his wife Mae died when their car hit the rear end of the truck, which was parked partially off the road “at the Johnny Risko filling station.” The truck “was partially obscured from westbound traffic by a slight rise in the road grade."

A house built in 2000 sits at 4233 Lake Road today
(Photo courtesy of Lorain County Auditor website)
The listings in an early 1940s Lorain City Directory includes Risko entries at 4219 Lake Road (the restaurant) and also at 4233 Lake Road.

Also included in the listings are Mary Risko, who operated a beauty shop at 4233 Lake Road, and Paul Risko, who was serving in World War II.

(Paul Risko was killed in Northern France on July 29, 1944, and was believed to be the first casualty from the 86th and 6th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron during the war. He was honored in a ceremony in Lorain in July 2014, which you can read about here.)

Here are the Risko listings from the 1942 Lorain City Directory (below).

Johnny Risko passed away on January 13, 1953. He collapsed while attending a meeting at the Elks lodge in Miami, Florida where he had just arrived for a winter break.

Here is Johnny Risko's obituary as it appeared in the January 14, 1953 edition of the London, Connecticut Day. It provides a nice capsule summary of his impressive career.
And here (below) is his obituary as it appeared in the Chicago Tribune on January 14, 1953.

When Johnny Risko’s wife passed away in 1956, a controversy resulted over some diamond rings. The whole story ended up on the front page of the Lorain Journal on August 23, 1957. Here is the text of the article (below).


"Up To Court," Says Johnny Risko's Dad
Estate Problem Is Created By Two Rings Worth $2,000

Johnny Risko, Sr., 78 of 4233 E. Lake Rd., Sheffield Lake, shows no concern over whether he would inherit half of the $2,000 value set on two diamond rings which had belonged to the wife of his son, Johnny (Rubber Man) Risko, famed heavyweight boxer.

Briefs were to be filed today by attorneys in Cuyahoga County probate court to determine if Johnny Risko presented his wife, Mildred, with diamond-encrusted engagement and wedding rings while both were alive, or if Mrs. Risko bought them herself.

George A. Cain of Lakewood, attorney for Mrs. Risko's estate, said the rings are in question because "no one knows who bought the rings or where they came from."

The estates of Johnny Risko and his wife are under the scrutiny of Cuyahoga County Probate Judge Walter T. Kinder of Cleveland.

If Johnny Risko, who died on Jan. 13, 1953, made a gift of the rings to his late wife, when they were married in 1945, then half of the $2,000 value set on the jewelry passes to the elder Risko, according to Judge Kinder.

Asked what he thought about the case involving the rings, Risko puffed a big cigar, blew a cloud of smoke and said, "It is up to the court to figure out the ring business."

The mustached Risko contended, in effect, that the ownership of the rings didn't worry him at all.

Judge Kinder maintains that an Ohio law, known as the half-and-half statute, declares that when a wife follows her husband in death and she leaves no will, then half of all property which came to her from him "by deed of gift" passes by inheritance to next-of-kin.

Cain said that half of the value of the rings should not go to the elder Risko because "engagement and wedding rings, it seems to me, are not the ordinary kind of property that passes from a husband to a wife."

"They bind the marriage," Cain added.

Cain declared that he will attempt to show that Johnny Risko was in no position, financially, to purchase the rings when the couple was married and that Mrs. Risko was. Mrs. Risko was part-owner of a tavern in Lakewood prior to her marriage to the fighter.

The former boxer left his spacious lakefront home worth more than $30,000 to his wife. But half of it will go to the older Risko, who has lifetime occupancy of the home, under the requirements of the half-and-half statute.

Should Judge Kinder find that Johnny Risko did not buy the rings, or that Mildred Risko, who died on October 28, 1956, purchased them for herself, then the rings will go to her next-of-kin only.

Mrs. Risko's survivors include two brothers and three nieces and nephews.

Johnny Risko began a sensational professional boxing career in 1925, becoming a contender for the world's heavyweight crown the following year and emerged as one of the Cleveland area's boxing "greats."

From 1925 to 1934, Risko fought top fistic stars, including Max Baer, Gene Tunney, Max Schmeling, Mickey Walker and Jack Sharkey.


For more information about Johnny Risko, here is the link to his page on the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame website.

1 comment:

Wireless.Phil said...

Never knew he was a boxer?
My dad took me in there when little.
I think the bar was originally on the east wall and then it was moved to the west wall some time in the late 50s or early 60s.
When I was old enough, I'd stop in for a drink now and then, not been back since early 2000.