2004 “Penguin of the Year”: The Travaglini Family

Ray Travaglini and his family have been tremendous supporters of the Mahoning Valley community and Youngstown State University athletics. The Travaglini's have also been important in making the Penguin Club's annual Scholarship Ring Banquet such a success as the events host each year at Mr. Anthony's.

For their efforts, Ray and his family are being honored tonight as the 2004 Penguin of the Year along with former YSU women's basketball coach Ed DiGregorio.

A former high school athlete, Travaglini started his first business, Suburban Water Conditioning, in the early 1960's, after a successful stint with the Kroger Company.

By 1964 his water conditioning business was thriving so he expanded his scope of enterprises and founded Imperial Development Corporation and later Sanray Corporation. His company built apartment complexes, office buildings, gas stations and car washes.

In 1968, the first Perkins Restaurant was built. He currently owns 30 Perkins Restaurants in Northeast Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and one in New York. He also developed plazas, and in 1995 opened a Holiday Inn Express in Meadville, Pa. He also developed the Holiday Inn Express in the Niles/Warren area and in March 2004, a Holiday Inn Express in West Middlesex, Pa., will open.

Sansalini's Bistro, another successful venture in Meadville, Pa., has been recognized nationally for its expansion and refurbishing as one of the finest restaurants in the country. The Bistro was built in 1977 and 14 years later, doubled in size.

Currently, the company is known as Travaglini Express, Inc. and employs more than 3,000 people.

The business success Travaglini has enjoyed has blossomed into ways to help others. For all those efforts, he has received numerous honors and awards.

He has been a consistent benefactor to Boys' Towns and Girls' Towns of Italy. They voted him as Honorary Citizen. In 1979, he was presented their Anniversary Award of "Man of the Year."

In 1984, he was honored as "Man of the Year" by the Italian Scholarship League. He is a past President of this highly-respected organization for assisting them in raising monies for scholarships.

A year later, Travaglini was named "Man of the Year" by the Mahoning County Economic Development Corporation, for his outstanding activities in the Valley.

In July 1990, he was honored as Grand Marshall of the Italian American Heritage Festival Parade in Warren.

In 1992, he received the highest honor of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, Mahoning Valley Chapter, for his tireless efforts in behalf of the youth of the Mahoning Valley. Through his leadership, 70 scholarships at $1,000 have now been awarded. The organization has established the Ray Travaglini Annual Award Scholarship in his honor.

In 1992, he was named by the mayor of Niles to be Grand Marshall of the Fourth of July Festival.

The next year, Travaglini was named to the Board of Directors of the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corporation. He was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by YSU Alumni Association and addressed the graduation class of Youngstown State while the University bestowed him with a Honorary Degree of Doctorate of Humane Letters.

In 1994, Travaglini was named a member of the Base Community Council of the 901st Airlift Group and was named trustee by the Butler Museum of American Art.

In 1996, he was "Man of the Year" of The Mahoning Valley Columbus Day 100th Anniversary Board.

In 1997, he received the Carmen DeChristofaro Award of Outstanding Citizen of Niles.

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Digestive Disease Center Leadership Board added him as a member in 2002.

In June 2003, Travaglini was the recipient of the Purple Aster Business Award, which is the highest award given by The Grand Lodge of Ohio, Sons of Italy Foundation.

Beyond these accomplishments, he has also assisted in raising funds for the Boy Scouts of America, American Heart Association, March of Dimes, cancer Crusade, St. Jude's Hospital, Hillside Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, City of Hope, the YMCA and the Easter Seal Society for crippled children and adults.

One of Mr. Travaglini's favorite charities in which he has been involved for 15 years, and is considered a major contributor, is Give Kids the World; a village based outside of Orlando, Fla., where terminally-ill children and their families can enjoy a week at Disney World and the many attractions in the area.

He has been awarded citations by the Supreme Court of Ohio, State of Ohio Senate, and the Ohio House of Representatives. The Congress of the United States has written a resolution honoring his achievements, he was awarded the Governor of Ohio's Special Recognition Citation, and received a Resolution from the Mayor and Councilmen of Warren, honoring his contribution to the Mahoning Valley. He has been given the Key to the City of Niles, and is a lifetime member of YSU's Alumni Association.

President Ronald Reagan sent Travaglini a special letter of commendation for his help to orphans from all over the world.

Travaglini is known in the tri-state area for the Sandlini's Sports Banquets that have given scholarships to deserving students of Youngstown State University. This affair was heralded as bringing in the greatest sports celebrities that have ever visited this area.

Ray, a native of Greenville, Pa., enjoys big game hunting and is an avid sports enthusiast. He lettered in football and basketball before graduating from Penn High and starting his very successful business career.

He resides in Warren, Ohio, with his wife Jan, and he has five children and two step-daughters.