CHAMPION - Joe Stanislaw describes his opportunity to attend Harvard University after graduating as 1967 Champion High School class valedictorian simply as "lucky."
But the close friends he has maintained back home in Champion know his personal and professional successes are much more than that.
Now spending nearly half his time traveling the world as founder of his Boston-based energy advisory firm, as an independent senior advisor to Deloitte's Energy & Sustainability practice, an author and member of several energy, technology and investment advisory boards, Stanislaw, 64, is considered by most to be wildly successful.
Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland
Champion High School alumni and brothers Paul Stanislaw, left, and Joe Stanislaw returned last month to their alma mater to make their annual scholarship presentation to graduating seniors.
Likewise, his older brother Paul Stanislaw, a successful and now semi-retired financial advisor living in southern California, says he spends much time jetting around the world, but more for pleasure than business these days.
The brothers admittedly possess varied personalities.
In high school, Joe was 1967 class president, member of student council and played varsity basketball. Paul, who graduated in 1965, showed his personality on stage in the cast of "Time Out for Ginger," was a member of "Tri-Sci" science club and ran track and cross country.
After graduation, Joe left the area to study and play basketball at Harvard University, while Paul served time in the military and then returned home, working full time at Packard and going to school full time at Youngstown State University.
Despite their differences, even quick conversations reveal commonalities not only in the brothers' professional successes, but in their humility and strong ties to their northeast Ohio hometown.
"That's where I'm from, and I'm very proud of it," Joe Stanislaw said last week from his Boston office. "It's who I am."
After graduating cum laude from Harvard in 1971, Stanislaw went on to earn his Ph.D. at Edinburgh University in Europe. He later was a professor at Cambridge and one of three founders and ultimately CEO of Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
The expert in energy development and environmentally sound investment in energy technology advises companies and countries around the world on the evolving market. During his stint in Europe, Stanislaw also served as senior economist at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's International Energy Agency in Paris. Today he also serves on the board of advisors for Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.
In 1971 Joe married Augusta "Gussie" Perkins, and together they have three grown children, a daughter and two sons.
He has published more than a dozen professional publications and reports and also has co-authored The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy, a book which later became the subject of a six-hour PBS documentary.
"Energy is the basis for everything," Stanislaw said, and he shares his knowledge of it globally with constant travel.
"I am on the move because my whole life is international. I enjoy it thoroughly. I have had a very blessed life, I have enjoyed every single second of what I do," he said.
Paul, meanwhile, graduated from Youngstown State University and continued working for Packard for more than a decade and also served three years in the military. By the early 1980s he was working as a financial investor, ranking as Ameriprise Financial's leading salesman for a number of years. At one point in the early 1980s Paul was recognized as the top investment sales person in the nation, an especially noteworthy achievement since he was working in the Youngstown-Warren market where unemployment rates had skyrocketed to the highest in the nation. He was promoted and transferred to southern California, where he remains today.
Paul Stanislaw is married to his wife Cindy of 35 years. She hails from Newton Falls. They have one daughter who lives at home.
"Our parents had one goal for us, to have a better life than they had. We both feel we have accomplished that," Paul said, crediting the strong local values with which he was raised.
Joe also expressed the pride in his upbringing.
"Everywhere I go in the world, people know where I am from. When I am dealing internationally, they should know who are they working with. I use it, but I don't play it," Joe Stanislaw said.
And so, to help give back to the community and school that helped raised them, the Stanislaw brothers return each spring to award scholarships to Champion High School graduating seniors in memory of their parents, Julia and Paul Stanislaw. Last month marked the 25th year that the scholarships were awarded.
"It was my brother's idea," Joe said about the annual gifts to a handful of students who show promise and potential. "Our generation was lucky to have World War II generation parents who established a community in Champion of values. What we are doing is carrying on our parents' values to the next generation. Their values still are there today."
Four to six scholarships ranging from $500 to $1000 each are given each year to worthy seniors based largely on submitted essays.
"I don't know who feels better the recipients or us. It feels good to see them when they receive the scholarship,'' Paul said.
"We grew up in a modest neighborhood. We want to give back to the community that gave so much to us. That is what it is all about." Joe said.
Despite the thousands of miles that have separated the brothers, their bond remains apparent.
Contacted last week on opposite ends of the country, each had one thing to say about his brother.
By email from Boston, Joe wrote: "My brother is my hero!"
Uncoached, Paul said by phone: "My brother is younger, but he is my hero."
Tribune Chronicle reporter Bob Coupland contributed to this story.