The Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame Association
Donald L. Kornowa Inducted 2005 - Class of 1960
And now we come to the third member of the Kornowa family to be inducted into the Woodward Hall of Fame. An outstanding athlete, he is modest about his accomplishments and listed over thirty teachers, coaches and administrators who contributed to his success.
Don grew up right around Woodward. He remembers the circus setting up on Manhattan Blvd. and his family parking cars for the circus in his Aunt Mary's and Uncle John's lot on Polk Street. One year, he attended the circus on a free pass that he earned polishing brass for the circus.
Don attended Hamilton Grade School (now Leverette Junior High). He participated in both basketball and track in the 7th and 8th grade. The 4th Ward Old Timers Baseball League provided an opportunity to play baseball. There was also a vacant lot across from his house where past Polar Bear stars such as Dick Miller and Jim Ray not only played basketball with the younger kids, but also became role models.
It would be almost impossible in this limited space to mention all of the Hamilton and Woodward teachers and coaches that Don named as mentors and role models in his biography. But, because Don is so closely associated with Woodward Athletics of the late 50's and early 60's, it gives an even greater insight to look at the academic teachers that helped to shape this young man. Don understood how English teacher, Marie Ersig earned the nickname "Ma" with her high standards and genuine interest in her students. Physiology teacher George Rohr provided high school science learning opportunities that aided Don when he took more advanced science classes at the University of Michigan where he earned his Bachelor's of Science in Education degree in 1964.
The event at Woodward that stands out most for Don is Woodward’s return to City League football during his junior year (fall 1958).Woodward was not the first high school to have limited City League football schedules. The City League Athletic Board of Principals had limited Macomber's football schedule a few years before. This was done when enrollments were down and recruiting fell short for football teams. It was recognized that while football programs were being rebuilt, it was not in the best interest of the students athletes to play full schedules against teams with larger numbers. Woodward played limited schedules in the '56 and '57 seasons. With a new coach, Lou Mezaros, Woodward won three games, including defeating Macomber for the first Polar Bear City League victory since 1953!
All in all, Don earned 13 letters in four sports at Woodward. He played basketball, baseball, football, and track. He also held class offices in his junior and senior years. Some of the highlights of his athletic awards were First Team All-City Defensive and Offensive Halfback (1959), All-State Honorable Mention (1959), played in North-South All-Star Football Game in Canton, Ohio (1960), VFW Outstanding Athlete in the City of Toledo (1960).
Don met Joan Zaleski at Woodward. She was a twirler with band, Student Council Queen, and Miss North Toledo 1960. Don and Joan recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. They have three children, Shelly, Don, and Ryan. Don and Joan also have four grandchildren, Lauren, Courtney, Hunter, and Logan.
In his biography, Don also wrote about his father Andrew and the outstanding athletic potential that he possessed. Andrew attended Woodward as a freshman and sophomore. He loved sports, but had to keep it a secret from his own father, Don’s grandfather. Andrew's father was worried that he would get hurt playing sports and it would keep him from being able to earn a living. Andrew would sneak to football practice with the WHS varsity that was coached by the great Rollie Bevin. Andrew’s dad found out and that was the end of his athletic career. In fact, he also ended up dropping out of school after his sophomore year to go to work and help out with family finances. Had Andrew been able to stay in school, he would have played on the 1936 championship football team. Don hopes that his Dad found some fulfillment of his dreams in watching not only his brothers, but also the second and third generation of the Kornowa family become star athletes at Woodward.
Don returned to Woodward as a Health teacher in 1964. In 1966, he became the Occupational Work Experience Coordinator and held that position until he retired in 1999. He also held many coaching jobs at Woodward and his church. The Hall of Fame is proud to add DON’S name to the list of distinguished inductees!