John "Jack" Kesling              Inducted 2012 - Class of 1947

Jack's early educational skills were expanded at Immanuel Lutheran Grade School at Buckeye and Erie with his buddies Jim Bueter, Bill Woodward, and Jim Kesling. Jack's easy going manner and sense of humor were developed and honed at Woodward High School. Nicknamed, Jack "Crazy Legs" Kesling, a young North Toledoan from Michigan Avenue entered Woodward in the Fall of 1942 and played as Woodward’s first string Junior Varsity football kicker in the early 1940s. An example of Jack's humor surfaced several years later while he was working as a postal carrier. Jack had to undergo a knee operation which he always claimed was a result of an aggravated Woodward football injury. Jack's postal service supervisor asked him "Are you sure it isn’t old age?" Jack responded "I'm positive. My other knee is the same age and its fine."

With World War II in full swing, Jack left Woodward and enlisted in the United States Navy eventually being assigned to the Sea-Bees. With his enlistment up in 1948, Jack returned to Toledo and played bass fiddle in a musical group of Woodward grads called the "4 Keys." Sensing an


 

opportunity in the rapidly developing entertainment field of television, Jack joined the staff of Cheboygan's WTOM-TV as a member of the production team. While in Michigan's North Country, Jack started another singing musical group called "the Echoes."

The Echoes, Fuzz, Bob, and Jack as they called themselves were good enough to win a trip to New York to compete on the "Original Ted Mack's Amateur Hour." Even though they didn't score high enough to continue, a scout for "Name That Tune" heard them and arranged for them to appear as the lead-in singers for the contestants. As they appeared for their first show they were upstaged by 17 year old Leslie Uggams' singing "When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin Along." She ended up taking so much time on the show that the "Echoes" were cancelled.

From 1964 to 1972 Jack returned to Toledo as Floor Director, Producer, and Star of his hugely successful children's show, MR. T. With the show enjoying huge ratings it wasn't long before the show expended to seven days a week leaving little time for him and his family. When the Stage Manager position opened at the Heatherdown's Stranahan Theater in 1972, Jack said good-bye to Mr. T, and joined their staff, leaving in 1977 to join the Postal Service till 1992.
 

Jack's musical involvement has never waned through the years. From playing for the Johnny Knorr Orchestra and Jack Runyan to entertaining the residents of the regional assisted living homes, Jack keeps his instruments in perfect tune. Even though Jack retired in 1992 he still remains active with his wife Alice and their three children, eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Currently Jack delivers "factor" to hemophiliacs throughout the State of Ohio for Toledo Hospital, and his fans still call him "Mr.T."

WTOL's Mr. T

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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