2009 Cleveland Heights High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame

Class of 2009

Natalie Zuckerman Epstein
Class of 1944

Natalie Zuckerman Epstein is a community activist as well as a patron and promoter of the arts and education. As President of Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, she provided the leadership responsible for the move from Lakewood to the Ohio Theater. Ms. Epstein was also a chairperson of the Great Lakes Theater Festival and part of the leadership team that successfully planned and funded the restoration of the Hanna Theater into a state-of-the-art facility. She also initiated and developed “Friends of Eldred Theater,” a support group for the theater department of Case Western Reserve University. Ms. Epstein has taught theater and directed at the Hawken School, Hathaway Brown, The Temple-Tifereth Israel and many Cleveland organizations. She has also been co-chair of various benefits and fundraising efforts for organizations in the Cleveland area. Ms. Epstein has earned the President’s Medal from Cleveland State University, Northern Ohio Live Magazine’s “Distinguished Philanthropist Award,” been named Life Trustee of the Great Lakes Theater Festival, and Honorary Trustee of the Cleveland School of the Arts. She currently co-chairs the Great Lakes Theater Festival, is President of the Friends of Eldred, a board member for the Cleveland State University Foundation, and active in various other boards and service organizations.


Robert Katz, MD
Class of 1955

Dr. Katz is the acting Chairman of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, and also a professor of surgery. He has a long list of achievements and honors, including several outstanding teaching awards, being elected to Alpha-Omega-Alpha, the National Medical Honor Society, and to Beta-Beta-Beta, the National Biology Honor Society. Dr. Katz also is the head of Community Otolaryngology at the Clinic, was named Outstanding Clinician in 2006, and was named Best Doctor in America and among America’s Top Doctors. He has published papers and book chapters in medical literature. He was a Major in the U.S. Air Force. Dr. Katz is involved with the community as a former board member of Montefiore Home, a member of the Cleveland Speech and Hearing Medical Advisory Board, and Solon Chamber of Commerce. He also frequently volunteers for medical services and education.


James. K. Fox 
Class of 1965

Jim Fox has a long musical career that includes a wide variety of achievements. Mr. Fox is the founder, leader, and drummer for the rock group, The James Gang, which recorded 13 albums and performed around the world in the late 60s and 70s. Recently he toured with the band in 2006 and has previously performed at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York City three times. Other appearances include Universal Amphitheater, Marquee Club in London, Olympia Theater in Paris, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Mr. Fox has worked with music legends Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, B. B. King, among others. An authority on automobile license plates, he has also authored “License Plates of the USA.”

He earned three RIAA-certified gold albums, BMI writer’s award for over 1,000,000 radio performances (for the song “Funk #49”), and was the recipient of the Antique Automobile Club of America’s Thomas McKean Cup award for best auto-related book of 1994.


David G. Miller, MD
Class of 1949

Dr. Miller is an associate professor of medicine, Emeritus, at Case Western Reserve University and has a long list of achievements and community involvement. Before taking his position at Case Western Reserve, Dr. Miller worked in the Peace Corp in East Pakistan and taught at Yale University School of Medicine. He has held various positions in the medical field, including Medical Director for Total Health Care, Medical Director at Community Health Centers of Cleveland, Vice President for Integrated Health Services at MetroHealth Medical Center, and Surveyor for the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. Dr. Miller has been a very active member of the community, including during the Civil Rights Movement. He is a founding member of Medical Committee for Human Rights, participant in Civil Rights integration protest in St. Augustine, Florida, participant in March on Washington Civil Rights Action, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Cleveland for the Urban Area Health Education Center, Diabetes Association Board of Trustees, a member of various task forces for the National Association of Community Health Centers, and a member of the Metropolitan Health Planning Corporation and the University Hospitals Institutional Review Board.


Robert J. Freeman
Class of 1945

Robert Freeman is the co-founder of Café 458, a feeding program for the homeless, and MedShare International, a program dedicated to recycling surplus medical supplies and equipment for use by health care providers in developing countries. Now retired, Mr. Freeman is a volunteer at several non-profit organizations and has earned several awards for his work in the community. He won the Alive Community Service Award for Volunteer Fundraising for Voluntary Human Service in the Atlanta Community. He also won the Kimberly Clark Corporation Kleenex Says Bless You Award and the Heart of Gold award for advocacy for individuals who are developmentally disabled. He is a fellow at the Bamerott Research Institute, and sits on the Board of Trustees for the Bobby Dodd Institute, Vocational Training and Rehabilitation. He is involved with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Deans Council Rolling School of Public Health, Mill Springs Academy, and is the president of the advisory board for the Interfaith Disability Network.


Yiji Shen Starr
Class of 1987

Yiji Starr graduated from Kenyon College and the Sloan School of Management, Greater Boston Executive Program. In addition to being Vice President and CFO of John Hancock Annuities, she is also a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. She has been a speaker on various topics, including Accounting for Life Insurance Acquisitions at the Ernst & Young Seminar, Appraisal of Foreign Operations at the Society of Actuaries Annual Meeting, Emerging GAAP Issues at the Society of Actuaries Spring Meeting, and Sources of Earnings at the Valuation Actuary Symposium. She is also a member of the Kenyon College Alumni Council.


Karen L. Gotwald
Class of 1965

Karen Gotwald taught in the Cleveland Heights – University Heights City School District for 30 years. She is the founder and coordinator of the Bully Proofing Program for the District that focuses on creating dialogue between bullies, victims, and bystanders to change intimidating behavior, reclaim personal power in positive ways, and to become appropriate change-agents for the aggression students witness. She is also the coordinator for the CHIME Mentoring Program that provides training, supplies, books, and monthly support meetings for retired citizens who faithfully mentor children. Ms. Gotwald is an advocate for the CH-UH elementary schools, developing partnerships between the schools and religious communities for special projects. She received the Community Shares Educator of the Year for Social Justice Awareness in 2000 and 2001, and was published in For the Love of Teaching and Other Reasons Teachers Do What They Do. Ms. Gotwald also volunteers at the Gathering Place, is a member of the Judson Retirement Community – Eden Alternative Children’s Committee, the Lomond Association, and Delta Kappa Gamma Society International for Excellence in Education.


Kurt L. Wallach
Class of 1945

Kurt Wallach is the President of Kurtell Growth Industries and is the President and Chairman of Prime Kurtell Properties. He is also a lecturer at Florida Atlantic University. Throughout his career he has owned and operated a storm window company, invented and patented a hair styling tool that sold over 20 million units, is listed in the American Stock Exchange, a tennis professional, and an owner of the Miami Racquet Club. He has developed 1,400 acres in South Florida, owned and operated 12 manufactured housing communities, and owned and operated 12 medical office buildings. Mr. Wallach is also a founder of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and earned the Citrus Bank citation and award. He sits on the Heritage Center Board of Directors, the Treasure Coast Opera Society Board of Directors, and the Indian River Humane Society Board of Directors. He is the Chairman of the Citrus Bank Executive Loan Committee and is a member of the Vero Beach Exchange Club.


Major Shannon C. Jackson
Class of 1988

Major Jackson is assigned to the Pentagon as a Department of the Army Acquisition System Coordinator for the Ballistic Missile Defense System. He has commanded two infantry companies in the 82nd Airborne Division and received Top Company Award for two consecutive years in the New York City Recruiting Battalion. He was deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing fielding capability to support the warfighter operational mission. He earned the United States Army Ranger Tab, the United States Army Senior Parachutes Badge, and the United States Army Expert Infantryman Badge. Major Jackson has received the Order of Saint Maurice for outstanding service to the Infantry Community, four Army Meritorious Service Medals with Silver Oak Leaf for exceptional leadership and dedication to duty, four Army Commendation Medals, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. He established the Fort Hood Youth Recreation Military Installation Wrestling Program for Killeen and Ellison High School. He is also active as a volunteer wrestling coach at Fort Belvoir Youth Recreation, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Military Installation, and as a volunteer for the Junior Achievement of New York City Program.


Eric M. Yasinow, MD
Class of 1975

Dr. Yasinow is a physician and Medical Director of Risk Management at University Hospitals Medical Practices, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. In addition to his busy medical practice, he regularly makes time to train and mentor medical students, interns, and residents at the Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals. He’s won the Heart of the Family Physician Award from the Case Western Reserve Family Medicine Department. In 2008 and again this year, he was named by Cleveland Magazine as one of Cleveland’s “Top Docs,” as voted by his peers in the medical profession. A 1983 graduate of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Dr. Yasinow has been an active member of the alumni board of both the medical school and the University.