Walter Bonkowski               Inducted 1991 - Class of 1944

Some people will go to any lengths to get the job done. Walter must be commended for his work to promote a nutritious lunch program. He literally "put on the dog" as the Lunch Hound and visited Toledo Public elementary students to encourage them to take advantage of the healthy lunches available at their schools. Walter at least deserves a bone for his efforts! Since 1983, he has been the Coordinator of Food Services for Toledo Public Schools.

Walter's additional administrative positions for Toledo Public Schools include Executive Director of Staff Development, Executive Director of Elementary School and Principal of Lagrange School. As principal, Walter said he sent 480 eager scholars to WHS and watched many of them rise to be outstanding alumni.

Walter designed and implemented the first Staff Development Program. It concentrated on growth and recognition activities for teachers, administrators and non-teaching personnel. In fact it soon

became nationally recognized and was used as a model program for other school systems around the United States.

Unlike many outstanding teachers and administrators that WHS has produced, Walter did not originally concentrate on the field of education. After graduating from WHS in 1944, he served in the United States Army until 1946. His training as Sports Editor of the "Tattler" prepped him for his stint in the Information and Education Division of the army. He wrote articles and produced art work for "The Helmet," the army newspaper.

He dabbled in advertising in Special Services, acting as the Business Manager for U.S.O. shows in Yokohama, Japan. Stateside, Walter developed advertising art in Chicago. He attended the American Academy of Art as well as the Art Institute of Chicago.

After graduating from Murray State University, he began teaching art, history and science in 1953 until 1957 at Lincoln School in Toledo. After receiving his masters degree in education from the University of Toledo, Walter worked his way up to principal. For over 20 years, he supervised city pools and playgrounds for the Recreation Division. He has taken post-graduate classes at UT and Bowling Green State University. From 1971 to 1980, Walter was an adjunct professor at BGSU where he taught graduate classes in personnel, supervision, school administration and staff development.

Walter did not forget his artwork. He painted the cover and produced book illustrations for "History of Ohio," a junior high text used throughout Northwestern Ohio. His paintings have been exhibited in Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois as well as the Toledo Museum of Art. Walter is also on the editorial board of the Maumee Valley Historical Society’s quarterly magazine.

A traveler at heart, Walter also organizes and conducts summer tours for employees and friends of Toledo schools. His journeys include most of Europe, Egypt, China, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. This year he plans to visit Sweden, Norway and Denmark. His travels have spawned a hobby of art collecting, specializing in Oriental antiques. Walter has two sons, David and James, and is married to Margaret Mary Donohue.

Like many WHS alumni, Walter believes the school gave him a strong foundation. "This was an outstanding time of my life and like others I know, we owe much to this outstanding school," he said. Special memories from Woodward include winning the city, district and regional championships in basketball. Walter received varsity letters in basketball, track and bowling. He was the president of his junior class.

Marie Ersig and Homer Hanham were his favorite teachers. Walter appreciated the great spirit of the staff and student body. "The staff cared and the students knew it," he said.

Maybe that is what makes the difference. Having supportive people present during a student's high school days indicate that when one takes that extra step, the effort is appreciated and emulated...even if the person dresses as a dog to get the point across.

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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