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My Servite Story

Each year we add more gentlemen to our amazing group of alumni; each with their unique experiences and stories. We love to hear from them and think you will too. Here are a few interviews of fantastic men who have wisdom to share and memories that will make you smile.

If you are interested in sharing your Servite story, please click here.


Jim Fleschner ‘62

Jim Fleschner was an unlikely candidate to attend Servite High School. With encouragement from teachers and classmates, he overcame difficult challenges to not only graduate in Servite’s first class, but went on to serve his country in the armed forces and develop a successful business career.

Jim had a troubled youth. He was a good student in early years of grammar school, but mischievous ways landed him in reform school, foster homes and juvenile hall from age 10 – 14. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle, Cora and Leo Seitz, who told him that he would attend a new school in 1958, Servite High School. Jim and his new brother, Joe Seitz ’64, rode their bikes to the Servite construction site to watch the school being built from its earliest foundations.

Jim felt under-qualified to handle the rigors of a college prep education having missed the better part of 5th through 8th grades. He recalls how Servite’s first principal, Fr. Maurice Gillespie, OSM, told him if he stayed out of trouble and worked hard, he would see to it that he graduated from Servite.

Jim did his part. He read every book in the Servite library, but struggled in math. By attending summer school and with the help and encouragement of Fr. Bernard Paul, OSM, and classmates Milt Price, Dan Riley and Gil Trujillo (+), he was allowed to graduate with the first Servite class, the Class of 1962.

Following graduation, Jim enlisted in the military, serving in the U.S. Army artillery division for three years. Upon discharge from the Army, he learned how to drive freight trucks and later developed a trucking business he ran for 15 years transporting freight between Los Angeles and Seattle. Today, Jim and his wife, Carol, own a synthetic oil distribution business, J.C. Great Oil.

Jim visited Servite recently to see the new Alumni Garden listing of graduates. “You keep Servite for life,”’ he said. “In the beginning, none of us wanted to be here. But, we gradually started to feel a pioneering spirit and pride in Servite, and the brotherhood started happening. It is a special feeling you don’t experience anywhere else. Servite guides you and makes you a better person.”

At the 2012 Excellence in Leadership Dinner, Jim was part of a special new Servite alumni recognition. He and his classmates were the first recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Congratulations Jim and the Class of 1962!

John Ganahl '62

From Neighborhood to Football Brotherhood

Jim Osborn, Chuck Rees (now deceased), Gilbert “Gil” Trujillo (now deceased) and I grew up together in the same neighborhood in Anaheim and we all attended St. Boniface Grammar School. My brother Peter Ganahl and Rick Crog, who were one year behind us in school, were also part of our local “gang”. We went with each other’s families on vacations and generally hung out and played many sports together in our childhood years. Then Jim, Chuck, Gil and I went to Servite in the fall of 1958 as part of the school’s first class and Peter and Rick followed the next year.

We all played football at Servite and were on the 1960 championship team which really only had about 15-18 actual football players available to play in most of the games, so our Anaheim neighborhood gang was about one-third of the 1960 championship team. Chuck and I were linebackers on defense. Chuck played fullback on offense while I was an offensive guard and occasional end. Jim was a quarterback and end who had a series of shoulder injuries. He was unable to play much of the time which was unfortunate for us, because he was a good athlete. Peter was an offensive and defensive halfback. Rick was the offensive center and a defensive lineman. Gil did not get to play much, but he stuck it out probably because of his friendship with the rest of us.

Gil’s big opportunity came in the 1960 championship game against Santa Inez. Prior to the game, the Santa Inez coach had studied our team’s rooster and he noticed that Peter was only 14 and therefore ineligible to play at the varsity level. He told Servite’s Coach Miller that if Peter played, he would protest the game. So before the game, Coach Miller told the team about this problem and asked what we thought should happen. In unison, the team shouted “He should play!” Coach Miller calmly replied that he liked that answer, but he then said that this game was too important to Servite to lose on a technicality and that Peter, who was the starting defensive halfback, would unfortunately have to sit out the game. (It has always puzzled me that the coach of a team with a 200-pound line average didn’t want a 130-pound 14-year old to play against his team!) And then Coach Miller announced that Gil would start at defensive halfback in place of Peter. And so, after enduring three years of hard practices with little playing time, Gil was called on to start and play in the most important game in Servite’s young history. I was the defensive captain and involved in setting defensive alignments on each play which usually consisted of minor adjustments, depending on the down and distance. (In those days, the coaches did not send in either offensive or defensive plays…we called them on the field.) I still remember Gil being very energetic in the game, sometimes checking with me before plays to verify his responsibility. And most important, he was prepared and did his job and played well. I will always think of Gil as the “Rudy” of Servite because he practiced and prepared for years before being called on in our biggest game which is somewhat similar to the movie about Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger of Notre Dame who practiced for four years and finally got to play in his final game. And last, Chuck scored the critical tying touchdown on a short run with only a few minutes left in the game. So, our Anaheim neighborhood “gang” was a key part of Servite’s first CIF Championship team.

Phil Melrose '62

After I left Servite I enrolled at Long Beach State but lasted just a year. While trying to figure out what to do with my life I worked various jobs until I was drafted in November 1965.

I started at Fort Ord in Monterey,Ca and it was there that I was encouraged to apply for Officer Candidate School.I was accepted and went to Fort Knox Kentucky for Armor School. I was commissioned in February 1967.After graduation I went to Fort Benning for Airborne Training and made 3 Jumps. After that I received and a surprisingly good assignment to Germany.
Although I loved the life in Germany I was wondering if the military would be a good long term fit.
I made 17 Jumps in Germany but no Combat Jumps. So, I volunteered for Vietnam and left for duty in October 1968.

I was with the 11th Armored Cavalry Division in Blackhorse Vietnam. I was a Captain and had a squadron of Half Tracks called "Dusters" with 50 caliber machine guns mounted fore and aft to discourage the enemy. I was wounded twice and was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor. After some serious thought I felt I had seen the best and the worst the Army had to offer so I resigned my commission in 1970.

I met my wife Jude (as in Hey Jude) in Los Altos, Ca (near Stanford) in late 1970 and we were married in March 1972. I was attending San Diego State University on the GI Bill and working to make ends meet. One of my jobs was at KGB Radio one of the premiere Rock stations in the country. I was on air weekends and made decent money but, knew my future was not with my rather weak voice.

I received an offer from a friend who was starting a Radio Station in Panama City, Florida to take a position as a Sales Rep who could also write and produce commercials for the station. I took the job and Jude and I went to Florida. Things were going well and then out of the blue I received a call from one of the owners of KGB who asked me if I would like to move to Sacramento and run their FM station. After discussing it with Jude (who said she'd leave me if I didn't take the job)...I took it and started work March 31st 1975.

The next few years were a series of ups and downs (mostly ups) that culminated in me being made the President/CEO of Brown Broadcasting Company. We owned stations in Seattle, San Francisco, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and of course San Diego. In fact we were the largest privately held company in the country by 1997 when we sold due to the Chairman's death.

Enough business talk. My favorite Servite memory was the camaraderie with friends like Randy Frazier, Gil Trujillo, Leo Miller, Don Masur, David Bayley, John Meck Bill Quackenbush Jim LaGraffe Steve Zamora and Tim Devaney.

As far as preparation for leadership...I think if one could handle the pressure of the Academics and perform under pressure that prepares you.

My favorite Instructor was Fr. Ryan who insisted on calling me "Dr. Pendant" and making us read books that otherwise we wouldn't have touched. I was involved in Football and ranTrack my Senior year. My memory of the Campus is how small it was compared to Mater Dei that I attended in my Freshman year.

I would advise both parents and their sons to think carefully about Servite and be prepare
d to embrace its culture and traditions.

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