Robert Rettig                       Inducted 2003 - Principal

"Robert Rettig inspired every student to do their best - in athletic contests, in scholastic competitions, and in everyday citizenship." The1963 Saga went on to say: "He made us believe in ourselves, for him we would do anything - the mark of a great leader .. .a real giant among men. He taught us to win and to lose gracefully. He taught us courage, dedication to a task, humility, and honesty. The image of this beloved man will be 'With us always, shaping our characters and guiding us in our lives."

Mr. Rettig was born in 1900 and grew up in Middletown, Ohio. He attended college at Denison University, where he won four letters in sports. He graduated in 1922, and later received his Masters Degree from Michigan University. Mr. Rettig married Margarette (Betty) in Bowling Green, Ohio in 1926. He began his teaching career at Bowling Green High School, where he taught chemistry and physics. In that same year, he was appointed to Scott High School, where he taught mathematics and served as assistant to football coach Jim Aiken. Six years later, he became the

Head Football Coach at Scott, a position he held for eleven years.

Mr. Rettig interrupted his teaching and coaching careers to serve his country in the U. S. Navy in World War II. In 1943, he was commissioned a Lieutenant, senior grade, in the United States Naval Reserve, and went on active duty as an Athletic Officer. In 1946, he was released to inactive duty as a Lieutenant Commander. He later commanded Naval Reserve Surface Division 4-111, which met at the Naval Armory once a week for drills. After the war, Mr. Rettig joined the DeVilbiss High School staff as Head Basketball Coach. His Tiger basketball teams won a city championship and tied for another. He assisted in coaching football and was appointed Director of Student Activities. In 1955, Mr. Rettig was promoted to Assistant Principal in charge of activities. He also taught summer school for many years.

DeVilbiss High School's loss was our gain, when Mr. Rettig was appointed Principal of Woodward High School in 1958. replacing Frank Duvendack. During his five years at WHS, he endeared himself to the hearts of students and faculty members alike. Prominent in education, he was also a leader in founding the Toledo Area Student Council. He was a familiar face at nearly every Woodward athletic contest, academic event and activity. At a surprise assembly in the fall of 1961, "Mr. Woodward" was paid a tribute by the entire school for being a wonderful Principal. A former WHS student Diane Attie, presented Mr. Rettig with an oil painting of himself. He was also praised during a "This is Your Life" gathering in the gym in1962. Former student athlete Dave Kornowa remembers Mr. Rettig as being "a dynamic speaker, a very friendly person, very supportive of all students, and especially proud of Woodward’s athletic teams. He attended all football and basketball games and was a great motivator."

Sadly, Woodward began the 1962 school year without Robert Rettig and lost him when he died in December of that year. In less than five years at Woodward, he had made a lasting impression on so many students. As the Tattler so fittingly put it, "For those fortunate to have known him, nothing can now be said. He has left us, and we are stronger for having known him His influence has not died. His leadership will not be forgotten. His encouragement will remain in our hearts. He was, indeed, good for Woodward."

The 1963 Extrav was dedicated to Mr. Rettig, as was the yearbook. The 1963 Saga was presented "In Loving Memory of the Man Who Dedicated His Life to Us.. .We Dedicate This Book". A poem by Sharon Chilcote said it all:


How can you judge a man' s true worth
During his short life span on earth?
One might say great wealth and land,
But these will shift like grains of sand.
I rather think it's one whose deeds
Have sympathies with human needs
Mr. Rettig was such a man
Who would perhaps give us this rule -
“Not what can the school do for you,
But what can you do for the school?"

He taught us, too, to play the game
In fairness and with courage high
To strive to win, but then
If we were beaten, smile not cry.
Good qualities we may possess
That lay unnoticed on the shelf
Without this one great factor
,A true belief in one' s ownself.

His guiding hand still can be felt
And will, unmeasured, through the years
His boundless spirit whispers still
"Give me your smiles and not yourt ears."

In December of 1963, the Class of 1963 dedicated a bust of Principal Robert Rettig. This bust now resides in the WHS library, but carries no mark to identify the sculptor. It is believed that LeMaxie Glover, former WHS art teacher and 1997 Hall of Fame Inductee, sculpted that work of art.

Mr. Rettig's daughter, Nancy Rettig Elliott, joins all Woodwardites in remembering her father as one who had a great impact on students and faculty. "After he died, so many people carne to me and expressed those feelings .In addition to my father's career in education, he also liked to teach summer school, all athletics, golf, yard work, and fishing." Nancy and her husband John now live in Evergreen, Colorado. They have three children: John, Bruce, and Lynne. Mr. Rettig is also in the DeVilbiss Hall of Fame, as is his daughter Nancy.

We are proud to welcome Mr. Rettig, a great leader, into the Woodward High School Hall of Fame. To quote the Saga: "His easy, friendly manner; his booming voice; his true democratic spirit; and his genuine affection for all of us will be remembered always." This cherished memory of Mr. Rettig remains distinct, as he is inducted into the Woodward High School Hall of Fame.


The Hall of Fame Association would like to thank Dick Hoffman, Class of 1964, for accepting the award and speaking on behalf of Mr. Rettig tonight. Mr. Hoffman was a student during Mr. Rettig's tenure as principal. He managed to stay away from Woodward only long enough to earn his teaching degree. then returned to teach at Woodward for thirty-five years. It's hard for Woodward to imagine, but Dick's retirement will begin when the Class of 2003 graduates this June! Thanks, Dick, for tonight and for your commitment to Woodward High School for over 40 years!

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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