James E. Funk Jr.                  Inducted 2012 - Class of 1965

James was born and raised within the shadow of the Point's last lighthouse, in a section of Toledo known as "The Best Place, Any Place, Point Place," and in a neighborhood developed by his contractor father. With the Maumee Bay at his front door and Detwiler Golf Course across Summit Street, it was only natural that Woodward's golf club would draw his interest in 1961. Jim still smiles when he recalls trying out for the golf team that year. "It was a beautiful day and the drive to the green landed a chip shot away from the hole. Everything was going my way; I was a shoe-in for the team, until my chip-shot hit the coach in the head. Needless to say, I didn't make the team."

Jim recalls Mrs. Williamson, Ms. Markopolous, and Mr. Maxwell for their ability to breathe life into their English and Physiology classes paving the way for me to understand the power of the spoken and written word. Jim, after graduating from the University of Toledo in 1969, started his career with the Toledo BLADE as copy boy, clerk, and staff writer. Many residents of the Point still recall a series of articles that Jim wrote about Toledo Beach, Willow Beach, and other places from the

Point's storied past.

Honing the written word while developing the communication skills needed to succeed, Jim quickly advanced from the BLADE and United Way, to Director of Public Relations for The Andersons. Sensing a great opportunity in 1984, Jim founded Funk/Luetke, Inc. [now FLS Group/Thread Marketing] a public relations and marketing firm with a staff of 35.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield beckoned in 1995 and in 1998 Jim opened a fine art gallery on Maumee's River Road. Sensing that something was missing in his life, Jim returned to the lessons learned at Woodward and started a consulting business to assist school systems with parental involvement. Realizing that parental involvement in education was only one of the keys to a student's future, Jim began to analyze the reasons for failure. Finding that the inability to read was the stumbling stone for any chance at achievement, Jim turned to Read for Literacy.

Since 2006, Jim has served as the Executive Director of Read for Literacy. Toledo's volunteer agency is the Nation's largest and lowest cost all volunteer group to improve reading skills with 1,350 volunteer tutors and readers. Under Jim's direction the Toledo group provides adult basic literacy tutoring and English as a Second Language tutoring to 1,200 adults annually. "The one-on-one sessions are critical," Jim says. "It takes three to four years to turn an illiterate adult into a capable reader, sometimes longer."

Sensing a community need, Jim's organization launched Creating Young Readers to couple volunteers with literacy-challenged children on a one-to-one basis to enable the students to enter kindergarten with the skills needed to learn to read.

Jim's spare time is devoted almost entirely serving on various boards throughout Northwest Ohio. The United Way of Greater Toledo, Toledo Botanical Garden, the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, Toledo Repertoire Theater, Maumee Valley Country Day School, and St. Timothy's Episcopal Church all are recipients of Jim's expertise.

Jim is married to Julie LaFrance Funk from Perrysburg, Ohio. They have a son, Peter, who is a junior at Maumee Valley Country Day School. Jim’s daughter, Laurel, lives in Port Clinton, and his granddaughter is a junior studying restorative ecology at Defiance College.

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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