Richard C. Chesko Jr.          Inducted 2004 - Class of 1969

Some things come full circle. Richard "Rich" Chesko attended and graduated from WHS in the late 60's. Some twenty-five years later, his two children did likewise. "Rich Chesko is an example of a Woodward alumnus, who, with their families, continue to support Woodward High School," said former Principal, D. J. Kern-Blystone, who nominated Rich for induction into the Hall of Fame. Rich's dedication to Woodward, and his professional accomplishments, are being recognized tonight.

Rich attended Hamilton Elementary/Junior High, now known as Leverette Junior High. He lived in the Stickney Avenue neighborhood, north of 1-75, an area " sacrificed" as part of the Jeep Plant construction and expansion.

While attending Woodward, Rich was active in the Band and participated in the Extravs. He won the Extrav Sammy Award his senior year. Rich's involvement in these activities resulted in a "best friend" list too lengthy to include here. However, he recalls special friends Bill Kosakowski, Nick

Szilagi, Dan Wilczynski, Paul Spilis, Karen Nelson, Rick Wolkins, Vic Miller, Gayle Morgan Schaber, Denise Tomanski, and Barb Culver." It was at Woodward that I, through a strange sequence of events (which Rich did not reveal), had the Great Fortune to meet my Best Friend and Lifelong Soul Mate, my wife Becky.

WHS staff members and teachers played a significant role in Rich's education. "Mrs. Zawodny, Mrs. Gantz, Mr. Duvendack, Mr. Wilusz, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Biler, Mr. Knierim, Miss Joseph, and Mr. Bolduan, to name a few, all taught me that hard work is what it takes to get ahead. Mr. Biler, Band Director, always challenged us to stretch ourselves to be all that we could be, and then some. He taught more than just music. He taught us teamwork, group dynamics, leadership skills, and just how to get along... very similar to life lessons. Mr. and Mrs. Haga taught my children 'over and above music ', when they attended WHS some 25 years later. Mr. Taylor taught me, not only Science, but also a healthy respect for what exothermic reactions could do. From him, I learned that teachers cared about us, and a teacher could be a friend as well. .. someone you could talk to and bounce ideas off before you did something you might regret later."

After graduating from Woodward, Rich continued his education at the University of Toledo, where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1973. He has also completed coursework in the MBA program.

Rich joined Toledo Edison in 1973, where he has held positions of increasing responsibility. He put his technical know-how and education to work at his first position at Fossil Power Plants, where he spent one year as an Assistant Engineer. From 1973-1983, Rich worked at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station and other Edison facilities. In 1975, he was a Senior Assistant Engineer and Operations Support Engineer in the Operations Department, where he was responsible for following the construction, preparation, upgrades and training on operating procedures, and the initial start-up and check-out of numerous plant systems. Other duties included Shift Outage Coordinator. During this time, Rich participated in the Nuclear Reactor Operator License Program, which included Fire Brigade Training to meet Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) guidelines. Rich was promoted to the position of Shift Technical Advisor in 1980. In 1983, he was promoted to Nuclear Projects Manager, in the Nuclear Projects Unit, responsible for simultaneously managing and supervising the design, materials procurement, and implementation of Capital/Maintenance Modification and Special Projects, ranging in size from $500 to $10 million. Rich also acted as a mentor to fellow project managers and other team members in all aspects of Project Management. Rich became Senior Program Manager in the Outage and Program Management Department in 1987. He led the Materials Management Task Force in 1989. Currently, Rich is a Staff Nuclear Engineer and Project Manager in the Integrated Planning Section at First Energy/Toledo Edison at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. He was promoted to this position in 1990, and is responsible for managing and supervising multi-million dollar projects and programs, such as the Dry Fuel Storage Project, Low Pressure Turbine Rotor Replacement Project, Simulator Computer Upgrade Project, and the High Pressure Injection Pump Modifications.

Rich has supplemented his formal education with additional technical training and certifications in Nuclear Power Plant Operation, Shift Technical Advisor training, Nuclear Power Plant Operations, and Project Management. He also completed Wood Badge training in the Boy Scouts of America Program; is certified in the State of Ohio as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT); and is a member of the Davis-Besse EMT Unit.

Rich's affiliation with Woodward High School didn't end with his graduation. He is an active member of the Band Alumni; has served as a Band Summer Camp Counselor and Chaperone from 1992 to 2002; has been a member of the Band Parents' Organization (Bandaides) from 1991-2003; was a Parent Representative for School Improvement Leader Interview/Selection Team; served on the Parent Advisory Committee from 1998-2001; and provided "parent support" for Woodward musicals in 1996 (Oliver), 1997 (Gypsy) and 1998 (Little Shop of Horrors).Rich was also on the Toledo Board of Education Steering Committee, as a Parent Representative, from 1991-2001.Other community involvement activities include being a Church Youth Advisor, Moderator of Church Council, Church Board of Trustees, and Past Treasurer and Board of Directors for Grace Community Center.

Rich is married to "my lovely wife" Becky Bear Chesko, WHS Class of 1968." I am very proud of my family. Becky has a degree in Secondary Education from the University of Toledo and presently holds several jobs. She works at Bayview Pharmacy in Point Place, where we live." Rich and Becky have two children, Richard "Carl" Chesko III (WHS Class of 1995) and Tara (WHS Class of 1997). Carl attended Worchester Polytechnic Institute, joined the Navy, and was in the Persian Gulf, with the USS Enterprise Battle Group, on September 11th. He is presently in the Naval Reserve in Perrysburg, following deployment, last year, to support "Iraqi Freedom". Tara is a senior in the College of Nursing at Kent State University. She was also active in the Kent State Marching Band.

Just for fun, Rich enjoys jet skiing, travel, playing games with friends, and exercising, including splitting wood, aerobics, and hiking.

Clearly, Rich can’t get Woodward "out of his system" . When he was informed of his election to the Hall of Fame, he said, "I am humbled by the fact that I am being recognized with such a Great Group of People, both now and those who have gone before." Rich most definitely belongs in this honored group. Although his children have graduated, he continues to be an active and avid Woodward Polar Bear Supporter. Rich, we applaud you tonight!

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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