John T Vaughan 91 revered wrestling leader and business pioneer died in Tampa Fla on April 29

By Mary Kay | May 03, 2006, 4:37 p.m. (ET)
John T. Vaughan, 91, a leading supporter of amateur wrestling and a pioneer in metal-heating technology, died in Tampa, Fla. on April 29. He died from complications resulting from a stroke, said his wife Helen.

Vaughan has been a leader within USA Wrestling, National Wrestling Hall of Fame, the international wrestling federation FILA and at the college levels for many years. He has impacted thousands of lives within the sport of wrestling and has friends all around the world through his involvement in the sport.

"USA Wrestling is deeply saddened by the loss of John Vaughan," said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender. "We not only lost one of our most active supporters of amateur wrestling, but we also lost a great American hero. USA Wrestling owes a great deal to the foresight that John Vaughan had in supporting the organization and working to help our nation reach the level of success it has had within international wrestling."

Funeral services will be held on Saturday May 6th in Tampa, with a memorial service to be held in Cleveland, Ohio at the Vaughan Hall of Fame in the Veale Convocation Center.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions by made to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, at 405 W. Hall of Fame, Stillwater, OK 74075; Phone: 405-377-5243; Web site:

In addition to his wife Helen of Lutz, Florida, Vaughan is survived by a brother, Daniel Vaughan of Chatham, MA, three children, Mary Kay Vaughan of Washington D.C., Nancy Miholland of Port Townsend, Washington, Byron Vaughan of Land o Lakes, Florida, two step children, Doreen Lavelle of Herndon , Virginia, and John Ferlita of Land 0 Lakes, Florida, and five grandchildren.

John Vaughan's wrestling legacy

A champion wrestler at Case Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, John enjoyed three outstanding seasons in the mid 1930's being undefeated as a junior and senior and continued to compete for a YMCA team until World War II. Vaughan had a great love for the sport and after his retirement, he dedicated his energy and interest to strengthen the sport.

He was instrumental and helped create USA Wresting, the national governing body for wrestling in the United States, serving on its Board of Directors for many years and on many of its committees. He was a member of the marketing commission of the International Wrestling Federation (FILA).

Vaughan was one of the founders of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater Okla.., serving as president and chairman of the Board of Governors. He headed a capital campaign raising funds for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame to enlarge and improve the museum and to establish an endowment. A new wing to the museum was named the John Vaughan Hall of Honors.

For the past 30 years John and his wife Helen have been very active in the sport of wrestling, attending international competition all over the world. For many years, they provided funding and sponsored Greco-Roman Team USA, providing support for the nation's top Olympic-caliber athletes in their quest for international success. One of his biggest impacts on the sport came in 1988 when he began underwriting monetary awards for U.S. wrestlers winning medals the Olympic Games, World Championships and PanAmerican Games.

On the college level, the Vaughans were quiet supporters of many programs including Indiana U, Ohio State, Ohio Univ., Case Western Reserve, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Edinboro and the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes. They also were the sponsorsof many tournaments and other wrestling events.

Case Western Reserve, his alma mater, named the university hall of fame, The John Vaughan Hall of Fame, which is located at the Veale Convocation Center. Recently the largest youth wrestling tournament in the world was named in his honor, the ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet National Championships, held each year in Fargo, N.D.

John Vaughan was a role model, father figure and a friend of wrestling. He was one of the most revered, respected and loved leaders in the wrestling community for the last 50 years. In 1992, John was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a distinguished member, wrestling's highest and most coveted award. John Vaughan will forever be missed by his wrestling friends.

John T. Vaughan's business legacy

Born in Cleveland in 1914, Vaughan graduated from Shaker Heights High School. To finance his studies at Case Institute of Technology, he stoked a furnace in a foundry that hardened steel. Graduating in 1937 with a degree in electrical engineering, he turned his knowledge and experience to the development of induction heating, a new method for hardening metals through electricity.

He went to work for Tocco, the research and development arm of the Ohio Crankshaft Company, which sought a more effective and efficient method of metal-hardening to solve the problem of crankshafts cracking at high speeds on the new highways. During the war, Vaughan was part of the Tocco team that hardened the nose of the armor-piercing bullet that finally penetrated the steel plates of the indomitable Panzer tank. After the war, as induction heating came into general use in industry, Vaughan contributed many technical papers and secured over 10 patents.

In 1952, he formed his own company to manufacture restaurant equipment and transformers for induction heating processes and in 1958 moved the company from Cleveland to Tampa. That year, Gerhart Seulen, a German electrical engineer and president of the heating equipment company, AEG Elotherm, sought out Vaughan with the idea of expanding sales in the United States. They knew of each other through trade journals. Seulen invited Vaughan to visit his factory in Remscheid, Germany. During a tour of the facilities, Seulen showed him the shooting range where he had tested bullets to penetrate the Panzer tank. Using the same method of induction heating, Seulen had designed the Panzer's steel plates but he had never been able to perfect the bullet that finally pierced them. Vaughan and Seulen became collaborators in subsequent peace-time enterprises.

In 1964, Vaughan with Case classmate Tinkham Veale II founded one of the first public conglomerates, the Alco Standard Corporation, organized on the principle of pooling capital and services to strengthen small businesses. By 1982, Alco Standard incorporated 126 partner companies in eleven countries employing 16,700 workers in manufacturing, service, and distribution. After Vaughan and Veale retired in 1984, Alco came to focus on paper products and became the world's largest distributor. By 1997, it divided into Ikon Office Solutions and Unisource, later acquired by Georgia Pacific.

Special thanks to Mary Kay Vaughan and John Graham for their efforts on this tribute to John Vaughan.