George Gusses, L.P.A. Inducted 2002 - Class of 1964
George Gusses... a born-and-bred Toledoan... is a success story. Nominated by one of his fellow graduates, George has "given back". His resume reflects his strong sense of community and belief in helping others.
George grew up in the Lagrange School District, in an area bounded by Cherry, Bancroft, and Magnolia Streets, and the Maumee River. George describes it as a poor neighborhood consisting of many nationalities, including Arabs, Greeks, and Mexicans. "We had a lot in common...a strong family influence. We all got along, and none of us realized we were poor. The neighborhood was the ultimate melting pot, with the Friendly Center Community House keeping us on the straight and narrow."
George enjoyed many close friendships while at Woodward, and maintains many of those close ties today. Best friends included Sue Golightley; Phil Kaufman; Robin Zehner; the Aequatatis guys; the
speech and debate kids; and the guys from the old neighborhood: Mike Dehabey, Farris Genide, Andy Puccetti, and George Kreamer. "It's been 38 years since graduation, and I still cherish those WHS friendships. In fact, on a monthly basis, I still get together for dinner with Don and Sue (Loemker) Reinbolt, Dick and Sue (Dahl Meyer) Hoffman and Dennis Thayer (wife Jean) - all 1964 graduates, who are still married to their respective spouses."
George proclaims that the most important. .. and humorous... thing that happened to him while at WHS was meeting his future wife, Suzanne Golightley. The importance of that event is obvious. George doesn't provide us with the details as to why he calls its humorous!
George became a Woodward fan before he began his freshman year. "I started attending WHS sporting events when I was in the 7th grade. Butch Komives was a Friendly Center guy. During high school, I think I attended all the home football and basketball games as a fan. So, when our basketball team went 0-18 our freshman year, that was 'memorable.' In contrast, our senior basketball team won the city championship." George remembers the Aequatatis group as a great outlet for social activities. "We had dances at Macomber Lodge and salami and beverage parties at the 'Gusses Estate' on Erie Street." Other special memories are serving as Vice-President of his senior class, having great kids and a life-long partner. “We still have great turnouts every five years at reunion time." While at Woodward, George was on the tennis team. His participation on the speech and debate teams, in addition to creating life-long friendships, provided numerous "road trips" as they competed throughout Northwest Ohio. With respect to nicknames, "I had more than I can remember."
George remembers "great Woodward teachers and staff members who took a personal interest in each and every one of us". On his list of favorites are Jim Bounds, Marie Williamson, Bernice Donovan, Patricia Perruchon, and Don Martin . "Mr. Martin let me play tennis for three years. Bounds had a leg up - I loved history. Dave Krost and Lew Cross were also people who really cared. Dave was like another father figure. Lew was a counselor you could really talk to. They understood."
George has always been a strong supporter of the Old North End and WHS. After leaving Woodward, he attended the University of Toledo. He received a Bachelors Degree in Education in 1969. While attending law school, he taught for four years for the Toledo Public Schools in the Adult Basic Education Division, preparing students for the G.E.D. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from UT in 1972, then passed the Bar exams in both Ohio and Michigan. George has been self-employed and practicing law since 1974.
George's law practice is primarily in the area of retail and commercial collections. He has more than 28 years experience in representing clients, which include financial institutions, credit unions, retail businesses, and medical creditors. He also represents several collection agencies. "We have filed over 10,000 lawsuits on behalf of our clients in the states of Ohio and Michigan. Without taking a census, I think it is safe to assume that I am one of the largest 'solo practitioners’ in either of the two states specializing in such collections." George has been associated with Attorney Tom Szyperski for almost twenty years. Their staff includes one admitted attorney, one prospective attorney, and ten support personnel.
In addition to his busy professional life, George has been active in community service. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Friendly Center, where he spent many hours as a youth. Behind the scenes, George has made sure that, whenever possible, someone from Woodward has received a scholarship. He has also been on the Board of the former United Way agency, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Northwest Ohio, and has served as President. Other community involvement activities include St. Paul's Community Center; the Toledo Warehouse Association (currently a Board Member); and Park Congregational Church, since 1981, where he served a 2-year term as moderator. George's professional memberships include the Commercial National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys, Commercial Law League of America, Ohio Creditors' Attorney Association, and Michigan Creditors' Bar Association. He is also a member of the State Bar Association in both Ohio and Michigan, Lucas County Bar Association, Toledo Bar Association, Monroe County Michigan Bar Association, and American Bar Association. He was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity at the University of Toledo.
George has been married to Sue Golightley for 32 years. Sue is a graduate of Wittenberg University and is a microbiologist, presently working for St. Charles Hospital and Planned Parenthood. George and Sue live in Maumee, and have three children. Alison Dugan lives in Fort Thomas, Kentucky and works for the EPA in Cincinnati as an environmental engineer, specializing in water treatment. Emily Gusses is a teacher in her fourth year, presently teaching 6th grade in the Ottawa Hills School System. George William Michael Gusses is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying outdoor management and recreation. He is an Eagle Scout and would like to be a forest ranger. "We have no grandchildren yet. Our dog Marigold runs the house and allows us to share it with her. Exercise, work, and family consume most of my life. I exercise daily, work long hours and try to take care of my immediate and extended family." In his spare time, George collects music: 45's (for the jukebox), old LP's, 78's, and many CD's "touching all musical bounds, except for 'rap,' I can't really get into it". George is a strong supporter of the revival of downtown Toledo. In 2000, he purchased a building in the Warehouse District, near the Erie Street Market, and relocated his law practice to that building. Prior to that, his office was across the street from the Courthouse.
When George was notified of his election to the WHS Hall of Fame, he felt "humbled, undeserving and a little embarrassed. There are plenty of others teachers especially - who have given their minds and their souls to WHS. I would rate their accomplishments, vis-a-vis with the students, on a much higher plane."
A fellow graduate describes George Gusses as "a man of quiet strength, who believes in the worth of his fellow man. He has always done what he can to make success possible for others. George acts on his beliefs rather quietly; there is no publicity or expectation of public reward from what he does." With this in mind, tonight we are asking George to step forward and take center stage for awhile- just long enough for us to recognize him and applaud him for all that he has accomplished. Take a bow, George!