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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CELEBREZZE, ANTHONY J. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CELEBREZZE, ANTHONY J. (4 Sept. 1910 - 29 Oct. 1998) served the public for 45 years as Ohio state senator, mayor of Cleveland, Cabinet member in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and federal judge. He was born in Anzi, Italy, to Dorothry (Marcoguiseppe) and Rocco (Cilibrizzi), a shepherd who moved his family to Cleveland after securing work on the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad as a track laborer.

Anthony received his law degree from Ohio Northern University in 1936, then worked for the Ohio Bureau of Unemployment Compensation before opening his own law offices. He practiced law for 13 years, taking time off while serving in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II. In 1950, he ran for the Ohio Senate and won the seat vacated by Howard Metzenbaum. He won again in 1952, but ran for mayor of Cleveland as an independent Democrat when the incumbent mayor was appointed to the Senate in 1953. Celebrezze won by a comfortable margin, and was re-elected to four additional terms, serving as Cleveland's mayor until 1962.

During his administration (seeMAYORAL ADMINISTRATION OF ANTHONY J. CELEBREZZE) he drove efforts to build the city's freeway system, the port of Cleveland, Burke Lakefront Airport, the Erieview office tower and Garden Valley housing project, and portions of the rapid-transit system connecting the east and west side. He was elected President of the American Municipal Association in 1958 and became president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 1962. He resigned as Cleveland's mayor that year when President John F. Kennedy appointed him Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, a post he held for three years.

Celebrezze resigned in July 1965. President Lyndon Johnson then appointed him a federal judge in the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. He relinquished full-time courtroom duties in October 1980, but continued to hear cases on a limited basis until his retirement in 1995.

Celebrezze received the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, an honorary doctorate from Wilberforce University, and was decorated with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy.

On May 7, 1938, he married Anne Marco, and they had three children, Anthony Jr., Jean Anne, and Susan Marie. Mr. Celebrezze died at a Westlake hospice and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Anthony J. Celebrezze Papers, WRHS

Last Modified: 25 Aug 1999 04:49:25 PM

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