E. James Wilusz Inducted 1990 - Class of 1947
When the windows of Woodward High School are opened and the wind is blowing a certain way, a familiar voice is heard emphasizing algebraic equations.
"He's still there?" a former student asks.
Yes, Mr. Edward James Wilusz is still dedicating his life to teaching. In fact, if one subtracts the two years in between 1952 and 1954 when Jim was in the army, the devoted educator has been at it for 36 years. Initially, Jim taught math and science, managed sports equipment and coached freshman baseball. In 1956, he began teaching only math. Jim also continued directing athletes on the playing field. As a football coach, Jim instructed athletes at various levels for ten years. He coached freshman and junior varsity basketball teams for 12 years at WHS.
Besides his saddle shoes, Jim is best remembered for his 14-year stint as athletic director. Helping
Jim man the office were student aides. In their eyes, he was a pushover. Jim would readily write a hall pass if the aides brought back a snack from the Bear Necessities. His role as an athletic administrator did not stop on home turf. Jim was an original member of the Toledo Board of Control and served as athletic chairman for ten years.
Before Jim became an educator at Woodward, he was a student there. After attending Parkland Elementary School, Jim became involved with WHS in 1942 playing eighth grade basketball. While attending high school from 1943 to 1947, Jim won two varsity letters as a cager. As a junior, his team went to the state semi-finals but lost to Middletown. The following year he was the starting guard on a city championship team that also advanced to regionals.
Jim was no stranger to the football field. He won three football varsity letters and was named captain of the team his senior year. Voted most valuable player, he was named to the first team all-city squad. Rounding out his athletic career, Jim also played baseball and won two varsity letters. His athletic achievement did not go unnoticed. In Jim’s senior year, he was awarded the Michigan Plaque for excellence on the playing field as well as in the classroom.
Jim was not all work and no play. As a budding entertainer, "he did it his way" and impersonated Frank Sinatra. During a school review his sophomore year, Jim really pushed the audience's imagination dressing as one of the Andrew Sisters.
Getting back to the books, Jim's academic achievement peaked when he ranked fifth in his graduating class. Academically, he was the highest-ranked male in the class of 1947. He also fine tuned his leadership abilities at Woodward. As a senior, he was the Tattler Sports Editor. He served as sergeant at arms of his sophomore class and vice president of his junior class. Jim ran away with a presidential victory his senior year. His only opposition on the ballot was a write-in for "Kilroy." Jim was also the first recipient of an academic scholarship provided by the WHS Engineering Society. W.F. Rohr was the teacher and advisor to the group that recognized Jim's potential. Along with Rohr, other instructors who influenced Jim were Marie Ersig, Belle Joseph, Homer Hanham, Helen Marie Griffin and Betty Nelson.
Jim used his academic scholarship at Purdue University. While at Purdue, he majored in physical education with minors in mathematics and biology. He was a member of Phi Delta Kappa, an education honorary and the Reamer Club, an independent honorary that fostered school spirit. As a Boilermaker, Jim played football for two years and baseball for one year.
He returned to Toledo and graduated in 1952 with a master's degree in education from Toledo University. He has been married to Veronica for 39 years and has one daughter, Dana, and two grandchildren, Ashley and Bryan.
Jim's influence as an educator manifests itself in compliments from his former student, Lorrie (Cheney) Peneff. She said, "It's not very often that you find a teacher as dedicated to the students as he was and still is .His teaching methods inspired each student.”