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Old Brooklyn Community News
Director of Marketing and Development July 2014
Old Brooklyn CDC is seeking input on how to improve the neighborhood website. Please take this short survey and be entered into a raffle for a gift certificate to a …
By Jayme Lucas-Bukszar
Lifelong resident Don Kasych, in his career as a landscape architect with the City of Cleveland, has touched every Cleveland park and recreation facility in Old Brooklyn — Archmere Park, Goudreau Park, Loew Park, Harmody Park (including the Treadway Creek Trail) and Estabrook Recreation Center.
Don worked for the City of Cleveland for 26 years, starting as a Landscape Architect and moving up to the Assistant Director of Capital Projects. He recently accepted the position of Planning Supervisor for the Lorain County Metro Parks.
One of Don’s favorite projects was the restoration of Historic League Park, the original home of the Cleveland Indians. This stadium was where Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run; the Cleveland Indians won the 1920 World Series; and the only unassisted triple play in World Series in history occurred.
League Park’s restoration is nearly complete and a grand opening is being scheduled for August. “You will be able to stand in the exact spots where Babe Ruth stood at the plate and where Cy Young pitched. It’s an incredibly exciting project for the City and the whole region,” Don stated.
When asked about his time with the City of Cleveland, Don said, “The City gave me the opportunity to raise three great kids and work on great parks. I’m especially proud that I was able to work on every park in my neighborhood, Old Brooklyn.”
Don was born and raised in Old Brooklyn; he went to Benjamin Franklin Elementary, Charles A. Mooney Junior High, and James Ford Rhodes High School. He has been a gardener at Benjamin Franklin Community garden for the past six years and remembers gardening there when he was in the second grade as part of Benjamin Franklin’s curriculum.
Aside from college, Don has only lived in four homes. He grew up on Hood Ave. and Canova Ave., lived on Cook Ave. with his grandmother right after college, and shortly thereafter purchased his current home on W. 14th St.
Don fell in love with working with plants and the earth when he started working with Skip Cook at the former Cook’s Greenhouse at 701 W. Schaaf Rd. when he was thirteen years old. The greenhouse was torn down when I-480 was built.
The only time Don was away from Old Brooklyn was when he studied Landscape Architecture at Ohio State University. He put himself through college raising and selling zucchini; he sold them for twenty five cents a piece on an honor system with his partner, Skip. He earned $2,000 this way every summer.
After college, Skip Cook started a manufacturing plant and Don worked there for five years. He started his 26 years of service for the City after he saw – and applied for — a City of Cleveland job posting for a Landscape Architect.
Don said that he learned many life lessons working at the greenhouse as a teenager and young adult — “I learned that hard work pays off and that there is no such thing as a free lunch. I love working with the ground and watching the seasons change.” He and his wife tend two-and-a-half plots at Benjamin Franklin Community Garden; they specialize in growing kohlrabi.
“We have over 100 kohlrabi plants; I just eat them like apples”, Don stated. They also grow tomatoes, lettuce, green beans and other vegetables. His wife Linda cans tomatoes using Don’s grandmother’s recipes.
Don’s grandparents on his mother’s side have always lived in the neighborhood on Cook Ave. His father’s family owned what is now Larry’s Tavern at State Rd. and Archmere Ave. It was called ”Kasych’s” when his grandfather and father owned it. Both of Don’s parents are Rhodes graduates, but they actually met at Kasych’s.
Linda Kasych also grew up in Old Brooklyn. The “urban legend” is that while Don was playing poker with Linda’s brother, he “won a date” with Linda. She agreed to go out and they have been together ever since, and married for 28 years.
Through the years, Don and Linda have been involved in a variety of neighborhood activities. Don coached OBALL and OBYL teams for almost ten years. He and Linda taught Sunday school at St. Leo’s, helped with St. Leo’s Capital Campaign and were Game Room chairmen for St. Leo’s fall festivals.
All three of the Kasych children attended St. Leo School (where Don chaperoned eighth grade class trips to Washington DC). Now they are all successful, very well-educated who live in various parts of the country.
Empty nesters, Don and Linda love to travel. They have been on cruises to Hawaii, the Panama Canal, and this fall will be going on their second transatlantic cruise. Don’s next goal is an Alaskan cruise.
When asked why he chose to stay in Old Brooklyn, Don said, “We live on a great street with great neighbors in the middle of everything. We can be just about anywhere is Northeast Ohio in less than 30 minutes. Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?”