The Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame Association
Gerald Cichanski Inducted 1999 - Class of 1962
Calvin M. Woodward High School is a landmark in North Toledo. It’s natural structural beauty, guarded by the Polar Bear mascot, may not have been appreciated by its students. But as adults, we can admire the ornate design of the auditorium; the oversized classroom doors, housed in deep alcoves; the seldom-used interior courtyards; and the pure functionality of the building. As an accomplished architect and designer, Gerry Cichanski knows this. He has 30 years of architectural experience on diverse public and private projects. Tonight, we honor him for his many accomplishments.
Gerry grew up in west Toledo, at 327 Sunset Boulevard, "a neighborhood of working families (mostly, at Dana Spicer) with big trees and immaculate yards. There were small houses with lots of baby boomers ... a great ethnic mix! I miss the cooking smells!"
Gerry attended Whittier Elementary School "near the Point" in West Toledo. "It was a great place to
ride bikes and easy to get into the countryside." When Gerry moved on to high school, he made many friends: Jerry Bray, Tom Jacoby, Mike Saba, Dennis Kornowa, Ronnie Howell, John Peacock, Larry Merryman, Milton Benjamin Baker, Bob Hess, Patty Kornowa, Walt Piatkowski, Ellie Bryan, Lynn Swillenger, Nafee Bedra, Janet Clark, Linda Efferle, and Carol Bevridge. Gerry's friends knew him by "two nicknames that can be repeated." Those who had a tough time with "Cichanski" called him "Chan." He was also known as "Mr. Clean", inspired by a TV Commercial, "because my haircut was very short."
Gerry's favorite teachers were Bob Geis, Jim Wilusz, Jim Smith, Belle Joseph and Principal Robert Rettig. "They had a sense of humor, could take a joke and treated me as a human ... with respect." He also considered them to be "friends", along with Paul Thoma, Leo Robie and "Yes, even 'Jocko' Gordon!" Dunphy. "They reinforced my belief that the world is a small place, and, we all need to get along. They encouraged travel and open-minded tolerance. I'm always grateful to them."
Gerry's high school days are pleasant memories. "Everyday was fun! I enjoyed school, football and golf so much. I cried at graduation because I didn’t think life would get much better. I cried again at graduation from Ohio State for the same reason. Life was, is and will be wonderful. My time at Woodward was filled with mixing with the ethnic 'soup' that was Woodward in the 60's." One "stupid" thing Gerry remembers with fondness was blocking the drains in the boy's shower room after football practice. "The floor would get about 3" deep in water, and you could slide across the floor like a hockey puck. One day, Jim Smith, Jim Wilusz and Jocko Gordon joined us. I learned then that you never grow up . .. NEVER!"
Gerry also remembers a humorous experience related to his behind-the scenes works on Woodward's musical production, the Extrav. "I designed and built the stage set for "Bye, Bye Birdie!" As a fledgling architect even then, I forgot the need for lateral, or 'X' bracing. The large structure wobbled badly. Each night, I watched in fear that it would crash down and kill my friends. Most of my buildings now are very rigid."
After leaving WHS, Gerry obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Architecture/Engineering from Ohio State University. He received a Master's Degree in Architecture and Urban Design from the University of Washington. He was registered as an architect in the State of Washington in 1972.
As an architect, Gerry's design and project management responsibilities have included governmental coordination, feasibility studies, schematic design, design development, estimates, purchasing and construction observation. In providing service to his clients, part of his job is to relate to the client's practical economic considerations, thus offering a blend of design and analytical skills that assure that each project is creative, efficient, cost-effective and of the highest design standards. Gerry is also well known for his role in leading public forum discussions, building consensus and obtaining review agency approval.
During Gerry's 30 years as an architect, he worked on dozens of major projects, in the United States and abroad. His list of representative projects includes golf clubhouses and resort facilities, including the Hiddenbrooke Country Club (Vallejo, California); Hua Na International Metropolitan Club (Tian Jin, China); Point Roberts Marina and Clubhouse (Point Roberts, Washington); Snoqualmie Ridge/TPC Golf Club (Snoqualmie, Washington); and Allan Island Resort and Clubhouse (San Juan Islands, Washington). His municipal projects include at least eight fire stations; five city halls; three municipal campuses; Holy Names Academy gymnasium (Seattle, Washington); Kirkland-Redmond Boys & Girls Club(Kirkland, Washington); and three auditoriums at the University of Washington. Commercial/Office projects include: Eddie Bauer Stores (Tokyo, Japan); Recreational Equipment Headquarters Store; and Grand Central on the Park (Seattle, Washington). Gerry has also worked on two medical clinic projects.
Gerry's background includes a term as Executive Vice President of the Chaffey Corporation, one of the Northwest's largest home builders. His responsibilities included all design and construction of over 300 housing units, ranging in cost from $100,000 to over $1 million. He has been involved in projects for "planned communities"; homes; condominiums; apartments in Kobe, Japan; and affordable housing in Waikoloa, Hawaii. Some of Gerry's private residence projects were featured in magazines. He has also received two AlA (American Institute of Architects) Awards for private residence projects.
Gerry's professional affiliations include the American Institute of Architects, the National Golf Foundation, and the Japan American Society. He has served as MAME Awards Juror, AlA Idaho Chapter Awards Juror and Seattle AlA Home of the Month Juror. Gerry also has teaching experience as Assistant Professor at The University of Washington, The University of Idaho and California Polytechnic University.
For many years, Gerry was a principal in the architectural firm Mithun Partners, Inc. in Seattle, Washington. As Managing Principal, Gerry was responsible for not only design, but also firm management. He retired from the firm in1998.
Gerry is married to Jeanne, who he describes as "a wonderful wife who keeps my hormones those of a 16-year old at Woodward." His first wife is the former Pat Kolling, who is still a good friend. Their daughter Jenna, 29, is living near Aspen, Colorado. Son Seth, 26, lives in Portland, Oregon. Gerry loves to travel ..."too many places, too little time. I have literally traveled around the world." Gerry has played golf on courses from St. Andrews to Morocco. He enjoys sketching and watercolors. Gerry and Jeanne's new home has a studio.
Gerry describes himself as "recently semi-retired to our 34 acre apple orchard above Lake Chelan in Central Washington . . .Please Buy Apples!" He has had many proud moments in his life, which he is willing to share with us: climbing14,000 foot mountains in Colorado, at the age of 52, with his daughter, who is an avid outdoors woman and snowboarder; "watching my little boy (6'5",210 pounds) play high school and college basketball, making all-conference and leading his team in scoring;" and winning the Outstanding Professor Award at The University of Idaho while teaching architectural design. He expresses personal sentiments, with respect to his family. "Every time I see my family, I know I was very lucky to have parents that really cared and encouraged my crazy ideas . . . nothing ventured, nothing gained."
Gerry concludes his resume by saying, "Thanks for this honor. As you peruse his credentials, it's easy to gain insight into his persona ...hard working, detail oriented, successful, creative, humorous, fun-loving, zest for life, appreciative pride in family . . .
Gerry, we thank you for making Woodward proud. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor!