David R. Kornowa Inducted 2000 - Class of 1964
The name Kornowa and Woodward High School are indelibly linked. Woodward’s rich athletic tradition over the years has been enhanced with the participation of many individuals bearing this well-known family name. Tonight, the Hall of Fame opens its doors to David R. Kornowa, accomplished athlete and successful business executive and entrepreneur.
Dave attended Hamilton Elementary School on Manhattan Boulevard. His family lived on Booth Street, near Stickney Avenue, within walking distance of Woodward High School. "It was a diverse neighborhood and a very nice place to grow up. We could walk to school, Wilson Park, and almost any other place we wanted to go."
Dave's athletic prowess was already evident in grade school. At Hamilton, he played baseball in the 4th Ward Old Timers organization for 5 years and was honored as the league's most valuable player in 1960. He played basketball in the 7th and 8th grades, and his team was undefeated in
both of those years. "In one 8th grade game, I scored 40 points, and I averaged 18 points per game for those two years." Dave was a starting quarterback and defensive back in football in the 7th and 8th grades and was the team's most valuable player in the 8th grade.
Dave's transition to Woodward was a "natural" as many of his family and grade school friends also attended WHS. His best friends were Dennis, Pat, and Ron Kornowa; Walt Piatkowski (a friend since the second grade); and Ruthie Hessman, "for two very special years."
Dave's favorite teachers at Woodward were Daniel Duvendack and Belle Joseph, both WHS Hall of Fame inductees. "Mr. Duvendak made Biology interesting with his knowledge, enthusiasm, and humor. Miss Joseph was able to make Advanced Algebra, Solid Geometry and Trigonometry a delight to be in, and two hours of homework a night almost enjoyable. She had the ability to translate detailed mathematics into an understandable quantity." Mrs. Bernice Donovan had a very profound effect on Dave .. . "She scared the heck out of me. She heard me talk on the P.A. System in Mr. Rettig's office when I was a freshman. I was asked to say something about freshmen week, and I must have been absolutely terrible. My voice squeaked, and I barely said a thing. Mrs. Donovan was in the hall waiting for me when I came out. She came up to me and said I have a very good voice, and that she wanted me to take speech. She wasn't fooling. I dodged her for three years before I finally broke down and enrolled in speech class during my senior year. My first thoughts of how bad it would be proved to be true. Our first speech was about three minutes long, and I was one of the first students to present. I was actually shaking form head to toe. I could see that all the other students noticed I was trembling. I also noticed that Mrs. Donavan had a smile on her face. Somehow managed to survive for those three minutes. Afterwards, I listened to all the other students give their effortless, tremble-free, professional speeches and felt absolutely horrible. I left class as quickly as possible, and I don't know how I ever made it back into that room. The next day, I found out why Mrs. Donovan was smiling and why all the other students did not seem to be as nervous as I was. The reasoning was that if I could play sports in front of hundreds of people without showing signs of nervousness, but show that much tension in a speech class, then it was OK for the other students to be just as nervous as I was. This relaxed the other students. It took me a while not to shake, but it did come about. I will never forget that moment." When Dave makes his speech tonight, we'll all get a chance to see just how good of a teacher Mrs. Donovan was.
Other memorable moments center around Dave's athletic career at Woodward. “I was a freshman at Woodward, and we were playing a basketball game at Libbey High School. After getting in the car with the coach, Lou Cross, I remembered that I did not bring my sneakers. I told the coach, but he thought I was being funny. I had to warm up in my socks and then beg for a pair of shoes to wear during the game. No one wanted to part with their shoes, and Coach Cross had to tell Eugene Khun to give me his." The saga does not end here. Dave made a tremendous shot from the top of the key during the first half of that game after a jump ball. Unfortunately, Dave had scored a basket for Libbey. The official had placed the players on the wrong side for the tip. Dave was the "laughing stock" for the rest of the game, but got a chance to redeem himself-with the Polar Bears down by one point with only fifteen seconds to go. "I had the ball at the top of our key. All I could think of was the two points I had scored for Libbey. I was not confident inletting one go from that distance again. Three of Libbey's players trapped me, and I passed the ball to a wide-open Leon McGee under the basket. He made the lay up, we won by a point, and I was able to walk off the court in my socks with my head held high. That was the last time I forgot my basketball shoes, the last time I scored for the other team, but very fortunately not the last time we beat Libbey. It was also not the last time I passed the ball to a wide open Leon McGee."
Dave won ten varsity letters at Woodward, four in baseball and three each in football and basketball. He was team Co-Captain in football and basketball in his senior year and played multiple positions on the football team. He was voted First Team All-City in basketball in 1963 and All-City Second Team in 1964. Dave was a member of Woodward's last City League Championship Basketball Team of 1963-64 and had a career average of 11 points per game in his three years on the varsity basketball team. In football, Dave was First Team All-City Quarterback and Second Team Defensive Back in 1963. He made the baseball All-City Second Team as a third baseman in 1963. He also played golf as a senior.
Dave followed a long line of family members, who played sports in Woodward’s gym. "For all of eternity, I watched relatives play basketball in the WHS gym. Sometimes it was for Woodward (cousins Don and Dennis), but mostly it was my uncles (John, Paul, & Andy) and my father Dave playing in the Toledo Federation. All of my uncles, cousins and my father played for WHS. I dreamed of being a Woodward player for eight years before I got there in the fall of 1960."Dave's most outstanding moment was when he was introduced as part of the starting lineup at his last home game against Scott in 1964. "We were outright City Champs. You couldn't hear yourself think, and you could feel the vibration from the ovation. I had imagined that moment for such a long time and it actually came true!" Dave gives credit to his talented teammates: Walt Piatkowski (First Team, All-State), Jim Tubbs, Ron Grant, Leon McGee; and a strong supporting cast consisting of Bob Linghor, Bill Dell, and Bob Pfefferle. "Woodward was the powerhouse of the City League that year, and the chant 'Let's Go Polar Bears Let's Go’ was the worst fear of any City League Basketball opponent in 1964."
Considering Dave's tough, mental attitude, critical to his outstanding achievements, one would expect that he would have a fitting nickname touting those qualities . "I would love to say I had a great nickname like Bronco, Killer, or Scornowa. However, thanks to Jerry Johnston, Walt Piatkowski, and Dennis Kornowa, I was given the nickname of 'Pansy' in the 7th grade. They were older than I was so I didn't have to answer to that nickname in the 8th grade at Hamilton. The nickname, however, was waiting for me when I arrived at Woodward . It all started at a pick-up basketball game in the neighborhood when I shoved another person to the ground during a scuffle for a rebound. When he got up, he stated that I wasn't so tough, but just a Pansy. Well, you would have thought sliced bread had just been invented. I will state that in four years of high school, not one person ever laughed or said my nickname to make fun of me, at least not in front of me. During a game when the other players could hear, they at least called me 'Pans' or 'Panzer'. Leon McGee did call me Pansy once in a basketball game when I was at the foul line while the gym was silent. I looked at each of my opponents, who I know heard what he said, and none of them said a word. Good thing too or I would have been thrown out of the game for something. I always rationalized in my mind that it was like a giant of a man being called Tiny. I am still at times called Pansy today, and I know when I turn around, it will be a friend from WHS. My new nickname is Igor, and that's another story."
Dave graduated in the top 25% of his class and received the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete Award, Toledo Chapter, in1963. After leaving WHS, Dave attended Indiana University on a Big Ten grant in-aid for football. He earned three varsity letters in football. At that time, freshmen were not eligible to participate. Dave's senior season, Indiana was Tri-Champion of the Big Ten and represented the conference in the 1968 Rose Bowl against the University of Southern California, which was the #1 ranked college team in the country. Dave was a starting defensive back in 1965, back-up quarterback and starting place kicker in 1966, and a starting defensive back and place kicker in1967. He was voted the most valuable defensive back at Indiana in 1967 and was the kicker who scored the points in a 14-3 loss in the 1968 Rose Bowl. Dave cherishes memories of many big plays he made in Big Ten games: game-winning kicks, interceptions, and tackles. The participation by Indiana in the 1968 Rose Bowl was and is still that school's only appearance in that classic bowl. "I believe that I am only the second WHS graduate to play in the Rose Bowl (Irv Wisniewski, University of Michigan, was the first in 1948) and the only former WHS player to ever have scored any points in that bowl game."
Dave received a Bachelor of Science in Business degree from IU in 1969.He worked for Ohio Citizens Bank for 4 years before leaving to run his father’s business, Kornowa Foods. Dave developed the company's first data processing department, upgrading it as available technology advanced. As Vice President of Operations, Dave was involved in all aspects of the business ... sales, product development, financial, personnel, warehouse operations, etc.. The company grew from 11 employees and $1.5 million in sales to 45 employees and $8 million in sales. In 1990, a business decision to purchase another company in a specialty segment of the food service industry did not materialize, and Kornowa Foods was forced to close. Dave then transitioned to full time work at Kornowa Office Beverage Company, a company he had helped launch in 1986. As owner and Chief Financial Officer, he expanded the product line and operations prior to selling the company in 1994. From 1994-1996, Dave was Assistant Manager for Dan Orr Builders, where he was again involved in several aspects of the operation from data processing and accounting to supervising remodeling projects. He then became Corporate Operations Manager for Bolanis Financial Planning Group, where he was responsible for accounting, personnel, and all computer operations. In1998, Dave joined Distributor Concepts, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan, as a Systems Support and Development Specialist. He is the primary support specialist for their accounting system throughout the United States and Canada. Dave also helped design and program accounts payable and general ledger modules. These systems are tools for the food distribution industry, and Dave works with clients to adapt the programs to meet their needs. Dave is also a Notary Public for the State of Ohio.
Dave is married to the former Sharon Orr of Southfield, Michigan. They have a 19-year-old daughter, Erika, who is a sophomore at Indiana University. Dave loves photography, golf, hunting and any electronic gadget. "Most of my time is spent fixing something around the house or remodeling our 60-year old home. My wife Sharon likes to watch This Old House on television and she thinks I can do whatever they are doing. She comes from a family of builders, and I think she should alter her occupation to job foreman." Sharon is a Sales Consultant at Marshall Fields in the Franklin Park Mall. "She does a tremendous job in that area, but I feel she could be an architect, interior decorator, or builder herself."
Dave felt "very shocked, surprised and honored" to have been elected to the outstanding Woodward High School Hall of Fame. "It is something that I did not imagine could happen to me. I felt that I am not in the same league as the other inductees." When Dave was informed of his selection, he was hesitant to tell anyone since he didn't know the person who notified him. But the next day, when speaking to Jim Knierim about another matter, he was assured that it was true.
Dave, it is true, and we couldn't be prouder of you. Congratulations!