Jim Leininger                        Inducted 2011 - Class of 1963

Jim' s neighborhood was Michigan St. between Buckeye and Galena - Toledo' s real North End. Here, lasting friendships were formed early. Jim still remembers Jerry Barker, Oscar Hill, Carl Schulz, Rick Lesniewicz, Jim Mackowicz, and Woodward' s basketball powerhouse Walt Piatkowski from the old neighborhood.

Riverside Elementary gave way to WHS's wide halls and the Tattler office where Jim and his friend Mike Kasperzak were the only boys "amongst all those pretty girls" in Mrs. Ersig's journalism class. The sophomore class sponsored a Roaring 20's dance and Jim asked the prettiest girl in the journalism class to accompany him. Dressed in a dark pin-stripe suit complete with a replica of a 38 snub nosed revolver, the triple date almost ended near Riverside Park when the police spotted the revolver in Jim's car. In spite of the event, Sharon Curtis would become Jim’s best friend and companion for over 42 years of marriage.

Baseball has occupied a special place with Jim since his Little League days at Riverside. At WHS, he played three years of varsity baseball under Leo Robie. He was a starting pitcher and was named first-Team All City his junior and senior seasons. For three seasons, Jim played varsity basketball under Jim Knierim, who Leininger admires and feels inspired him to want to be a coach. He also recalls the game against Central his senior year. Broadcast on the radio, the game started with Jim and his best friend since the second grade, Jerry Barker, leading the charge against Central. "Big Jim" or "Jimbo" remembers the evening’s six-point loss and the subsequent admonition from a policeman who had been listening to the radio broadcast of the game. "You've already had enough bad luck tonight; get going and be careful," the officer said after a stop for running a light.

Jim has dedicated the majority of his professional career and his retirement years helping shape the lives of our youth. A graduate of Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science in education and work toward a master' s degree in educational administration, Jim taught physical education and industrial education at the high school level in Ohio, and served as principal of Ayersville, OH Middle School. Prior to his last teaching assignment, Jim worked as a Journeyman Pipe Welder.

Jim coached high school basketball a total of 14 years (including one year at Woodward) , and high school baseball a total of 26 years in Ohio schools, compiling impressive records and numerous post-season appearances, including a State Baseball Championship title in 1997 at Ayersville. In 2004, Jim was inducted into the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame for his accomplishments.

Over the years, Jim has been active with Christian Youth work. Since his retirement in 2006, he has been involved in Christian Missionary work, teaching industrial welding and basic baseball skills to youth in Hungary and Togo (Africa), with future annual mission trips planned. He divides his time between Lansing, MI, and Sun City, AZ. Jim enjoys traveling on his motorcycle and watching Major League baseball spring training.

Jim and Sharon had four children: Robert, Jill Ford, Curtis, and Jamie, a daughter they lost as an infant. Eight grandchildren complete the family tree. Sharon passed away in 2007.

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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