CELESTE, FRANK PALM (24 March 1907-9 Nov. 1988) was a real estate developer, housing expert and mayor of Lakewood from 1956-1964.

Born to Samuel and Carolina Santora Celeste in Cerisano, Italy, Celeste was ten months old when his family came to the United States. He was raised in Monessen, Pennsylvania and graduated from Monessen High School in 1924. He received the A.B. degree from Wooster College in 1928, and the LL.B. from Western Reserve University Law School in 1931. He passed the Ohio bar in 1932 and began his law practice in Cleveland.

With Democratic Party backing Celeste ran a nonpartisan campaign to become Lakewood's mayor in 1955 and break the Republican Party's hold on City Hall. Once in office Celeste helped to amend Lakewood's charter to provide for partisan elections. Running as a Democrat, Celeste was re-elected in 1959. Celeste's tenure marked the development of high-rise apartment buildings along Lakewood's Gold Coast, which increased Lakewood's tax base by $30 million. Celeste also led in promoting housing for the elderly with the Westerly Apartments opening in 1963.

After two terms Celeste returned to private practice and his business, National Housing Consultants & Management, Inc. which developed condominiums and federally subsidized housing for the elderly. Celeste's final political campaign, the 1967 Cleveland mayoral primary, ended with Celeste finishing third to Carl Stokes and Ralph Locher.

Celeste married Margaret Louis on 1 Oct. 1932. They had three children: Richard, Mary Patricia, and Theodore. A Methodist, Celeste is buried in Lakewood Park Cemetery.

Borchert, Jim & Susan. Lakewood: The First Hundred Years (1989).

Article Categories