The Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame Association
Samuel Szor Inducted 2000 - Teacher
As a music teacher at Woodward High School, Sam Szor inspired thousands of Toledoans who still play, teach or listen to music. Included in this number are Woodward students, who learned from him in the classroom; on the football field in marching band; and on the stage as performers in WHS Extravaganzas. They applaud louder than anyone when Sam takes the stage as Toledo's longest running musical personality. Tonight we applaud him for another reason . . . his induction into the Woodward High School Hall of Fame.
From the 1950's to the 1980's, Sam Szor was a professional music educator at the secondary and college levels. He taught music at Woodward from 1952-1963, where he left an indelible impression on his students. Two of this year's Hall of Fame Inductees, Tom Bollin and Robert Bell, credit Sam Szor with being a positive influence in their lives. Sam left WHS in 1963 for the University of Toledo, where he spent the next ten years as an Assistant Professor (six years) and Student Activities Associate Professor (four years). In 1973, Sam returned to teaching at the high school level. He
taught at Waite High School for eleven years. His education experience included two years teaching for the City of Toledo Recreation Department, from 1984-1986.
During the 30+ years Sam taught music, he did not limit his activities to the classroom. Since 1953, Sam has been an integral part of Toledo's music scene, earning him the title of Toledo's "Mr. Music." Before completing a Master's Degree from the University of Michigan, he began his career as the conductor and music director of the immensely popular "Music Under the Stars" summer concert series at the Toledo Zoo. For forty-seven summers, he has conducted the Toledo Symphony Concert Band for a weekly crowd of 5,000 fans. This popular format came indoors in 1991 when Sam began conducting the Toledo Symphony in well received Sunday evening appearances, entitled "Casual Concerts," at the Stranahan Theatre.
In the 1960's, Sam served as conductor and music director of both opera and musical comedy for the University of Toledo Community Theater and of the Kerwin Ballet Theatre. During twenty seasons as the conductor and music director of the Perrysburg Symphony, Sam led that group to an unprecedented level of excellence. Sam has excelled in both choral and orchestral conducting. With more years of service to the Toledo Choral Society than any other conductor (forty two years!), he has chosen masterpieces from all periods and contributed to the Society’s reputation for presenting the finest in choral music. Another long-standing role for Sam has been that of Director of Music for the First Congregational Church, since1968. During this time, Sam has built an accomplished motet choir consisting of church members, undergraduate and graduate music students. Choir members have frequently gone on to further study or performance careers both here and in Europe.
In 1989, Sam was a guest conductor for the famous Goldman Memorial Band in New York City, and in 1987 conducted Michigan's Flint Concert Band. Since 1979, he has frequently conducted "Vienna Nights", children's concerts, New Year’s Eve galas, Mother's Day concerts, and other community events for the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. Sam is also an accomplished instrumentalist. He has played bassoon with the Toledo Symphony, the Toledo Opera Orchestra and the University of Toledo Woodwind Quintet and Trio. Sam also plays the saxophone.
Awards abound for Sam Szor. In 1979, he was the recipient of the Best Artist Award from the Toledo Arts Commission. In 1983, Sam was honored by Waite High School as one of the three individuals to receive the first Distinguished Alumni Awards and was also inducted into the University of Toledo Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi as a life member. In 1984, Sam was inducted into the Birmingham Hall of Fame, as voted by the 115th General Assembly of Ohio. He was presented with the Sertoma Service to Mankind Award in 1990. In 1992, Sam received the Distinguished Citizenship Award for contributions to music in Toledo and for a lifetime of musical achievement from the International Institute Heritage Hall of Fame, as well as the Ohioana Citation in Music from the Ohioana Library Association. On March 29, 1998, he was inducted into the Lake Erie West Hall of Fame for the Performing Arts. Sam has been recognized both by city resolutions and congressional proclamation for his work with "Music Under the Stars." Most recently, on December 12, 1999, Sam was the honoree at the Abraham Lincoln Award Reception. This award recognizes "outstanding and eminent contributions in the field of human knowledge, the arts, and the betterment of mankind."
Toledo's "Mr. Music" . . . Woodward's "Mr. Music" . . . Tonight, past and present Woodward High School students, faculty, staff and friends join a long list of those who have honored Sam Szor. We're proud to claim him as a Polar Bear Hall-of-Famer.