Lake County Blue Coats Inc. Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow helping First Responders & Their Families.
The Lake County Blue Coats, Inc. is a 501(C)(3) that recognizes the enormous contribution to our community made by police and corrections officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and emergency dispatchers. Our mission is to provide assistance to the families of first responders in the event of a line of duty death. We also recognize, on an annual basis, extraordinary acts of valor by first responders through the Jorge Medina Distinguished Service Award, and we award the Ronald J. Taddeo Memorial Scholarship to children of members of our safety forces that are headed to college.
We encourage all citizens in Lake County, Ohio to become members and assist us to support those who protect us everyday and sacrifice themselves in many ways. We also offer a reduced rate membership to those who serve and are employed by a governmental agency within Lake County to become members in support of your brothers and sisters.
In 1966, Willoughby thoracic surgeon, Dr. Jorge Medina, assembled a group of civic-minded Lake County citizens for the purpose of establishing an organization that would be supportive of the county’s safety service members and their families. Dr. Medina’s efforts culminated in the incorporation of Lake County Blue Coats, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, on July 15, 1966.
The initial and main purpose of Lake County Blue Coats, Inc. was to offer financial assistance to the families of safety service members who had lost their lives in the line of duty. At the time of our creation, we were becoming part of a larger movement started in 1950 by Detroit auto dealer William Packer who conceived of the idea and prototype of a service organization that would help these families survive. Mr. Packer named his organization, “The 100 Club” because the original membership included 100 private citizens willing to contribute to an ongoing rescue fund that could be utilized quickly when needed. The 100 Club idea rapidly caught on and spread across the U.S. with the establishment of over 120 such organizations, 8 of which are in Ohio.
Lake County Blue Coats, Inc. was patterned after Bluecoats, Inc. of Cleveland/Cuyahoga County which was created in 1956. While throughout the country, these organizations have adopted a variety of names, all have similar goals and provide financial assistance for surviving families, educational programs, and valor awards.
In 1968, Lake County Blue Coats, Inc. began awarding Distinguished Service Awards to honor the men and women of the county’s safety forces whose courageous actions and often lifesaving performances exceed the call of duty. In 1989 this award was renamed, “The Jorge Medina Distinguished Service Award” in honor of the founder of our organization. To date the list of recipients of this award numbers 118.
Since 1981, Lake County Blue Coats, Inc. has also offered educational scholarships for the children of our safety force members. In 2020, these scholarships were renamed the Dr. Ronald J. Taddeo Memorial Scholarships in honor of Dr. Taddeo and his 30 years of leadership as President of our organization. In addition to serving as President, he was also a dedicated member of our scholarship committee and spent hours carefully reviewing the applications. He was always impressed by the applicants and always wished we could award more of them. His passion and dedication are what led the board to rename the scholarship in his honor. Presently, we offer six $2000 scholarship awards per year.
For over 55 years, Lake County Blue Coats, Inc. has proudly supported Lake County’s safety service personnel. We will continue to encourage support of our county’s safety forces and their families. We are always seeking new members who believe in and support these endeavors
We are working hard to increase the number of members we have in our organization so that we can grow to assist many more safety professionals in Lake County, Ohio.
Lake County Blue Coats, Inc. Historical Highlights
Founded in 1966 to provide moral support to Lake County’s Police and Firemen and to offer economic assistance to the families of police and firemen killed in action. Also a yearly honor given to a police officer of firefighter for outstanding service, was initially titled the Outstanding Service Award.
1967 - The first two membership meetings were held, and established the policies that would establish the path of the organization going forward. The first meeting was at the Hospitality Motor In on June 7, 1967 and the second at an unrecorded location, was on December 7, 1967.
1968 - The first recipients of the Lake County Blue Coats Outstanding Service Awards were Patrolmen William Chamar and Elton Vogel of the Willoughby Police Department.
1969 - Cleveland Police Det. John Apanites, a Lake County resident, was killed while working in Cleveland at an off duty job. After an inquiry, it was determined that his death did not qualify for benefits from the Lake County Blue Coats due to the fact that Officer Apanites was employed by a police agancy located outside of Lake County. A private collection among the membership raised the then current benefit amount of $1000, which was sent to his widow.
1975 - Founder and First President of the Lake County Blue Coats, Dr. Jorge Medina stepped down He was presented with an engraved silver tray for his service, by new president, Edward L. Meister, Jr. who had been named to succeed Dr. Medina
1978 - Committee formed for the purpose of awarding college scholarships to children of police and fire personnel
1979 - President Edward Meister dies on August 24, 1979. Dr. Medina resumes his prior position as president.
1986 - Assists the family of Firefighter Albert Dingle, Madison Fire District, who died while fighting a house fire in Madison.
1989 - Dr. Jorge Medina died on February 9, 1989. Dr. Ronald Taddeo takes over as president of the Blue Coats.
1990 - The Distinguished Service Award was renamed the Dr. Jorge Medina Distinguished Service Award at the 1990 awards dinner.
1994 - Dr. Michael Matteo, a founding member of the Blue Coats, passed away on September 20, 1994.
1996 - The Blue Coats made contributions to the families to two area first responders who had died while off duty. Michael Fielder of the Perry Township Fire Department passed away on May 16, 1996, after medical emergency while off duty, coaching at his son's baseball game. Fielder has been awarded the Jorge Medina Distinguished Service Award in 1992. Also, Fire Chief David Geosano,, WIckliffe Fire Department, passed away unexpectedly on June 8, 1996. Both of these men had young families, and the organization decided a cash contribution would be appropriate. Trustee William Kochever passes away in June 29, 1996.
2001 - Award benefits were extended to include Police K-9 dogs if they are killed in the l1ne of duty. The $1000.00 benefit will be paid to the department, in recognition of the loss of their K-9.
2002 - Donated $2000.00 to the Silver Shield to be added to their scholarship fund for children of first responders who were killed on September 11, 2001.
2004 - Dr. Wesley Pignolet passed away on April 18, 2004.
2006 - Andy Nowacki, a Grand River Patrolman, was serving in the U.S. Marine Corp, In Iraq. On February 26, 2005, he was killed in action when a roadside bomb exploded. At the annual meeting the Blue Coats donated $1000.00 to the Andy Nowacki Memorial Scholarship Fund. The donation was presented to Andy's parents.
2007 - Awarded a plaque in recognition of numerous acts of bravery and heroism by first responders during the floods of 2006. Plaque to be displayed at the Police - Fire Mini Museum. Noted the deaths of Robert Clair on April 1, 2006 and Barry Byron on December 29, 2006, both of whom served as legal advisors to the Blue Coats, Inc.
2008 - The Lake County Chiefs of Police presented the Blue Coats with a plaque in recognition to their years of service
2009 - Proclamation was issued commending all of the police agencies and the supporting crime lab personnel involved in the solving of the Dr. Robert Kalina murder investigation.
2010 - Members of Lake County Safety Forces are granted membership eligibility.
2012 - Assists the family of Patrolman Jason Gresko, Willoughby Police Department, who on September 21, 2012, died in a car accident while responding to a call of an officer needing help. On August 12, 2012, The Blue Coats Police-Fire Museum held a grand opening and dedication of their permanent home at the Lake County History Center,415 Riverside Drive, Painesville Township. Longtime treasurer Tom Ellis dies on December 9, 2012. Danielle Seusel bequeathed over $32,000 to the Lake County Blue Coats upon her death earlier this year.
2013 - Noted the passing of three long time members of the organization : Emile Legros on April 27, 2013, Charles Cannon on May 18, 2013, and Dr. John Cahill on August 3, 2013
2014 - Lake County Blue Coats Inc, formally commended Dr, Taddeo for his years of service to the organization, including the past 25 years, serving as president.
2016 - Willoughby Rotary Club honors The Lake County Bluecoats as the Distinguished Civic Organization of the Year. Also, the Ohio House of Representatives issues proclamation honoring the organization on their 50th anniversary.
2018 - Assists the families of Patrolman Mat Mazany, Mentor P.D. who was stuck by a vehicle on duty and fatally injured and Patrolman Michael Huffman, Madison Village PD, who suffered a fatal heart attack while on duty. Also James Collins passed away on April 28, 2018
2019 - The Blue Coats lost two valued members of the organization as Dr. Murray Winchell passed away on October 7, 2019, and Dr. Ronald Taddeo died on October 27, 2019. Jason Wuliger is selected to succeed Dr. Taddeo as President of the Lake County Blue Coats, Inc.
2020 - Took first steps into social networking by launching our Facebook page at Lake County Blue Coats, Inc. It quickly grew and has garnered over 500 likes.
2021 - The Covid Pandemic caused the cancellation of the annual in person meeting. A Zoom meeting was aired and attracted a smaller than normal audience.
2022 - John Rogers Esq was elected to succeed Jason Wuliger as President. The bylaws and regulations governing the Blue Coats were revised and updated. The lakecountybluecoats.com website was launched.