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Leo M. Florkowski Jr.           Inducted 2024 - Class of 1963


Known as “Butch” to family and friends, and “Mr. Flo” at school, Leo was one of a handful of graduates who returned to Woodward to teach and coach for 37 years as a Polar Bear!


That was very fortunate for his students! In his social studies classes, he created techniques to reach different styles of learners, ran alongside his cross-country team, drove team members to meets, stored food in his classroom for the hungry and, above all, was so pleased to serve kids from his own community. His students loved him.


He put himself through undergraduate school at UT by working several jobs, then earned his Master’s in Social Studies from Eastern Michigan. A Renaissance Man, he enjoyed fishing, hunting game and mushrooms, bowling, playing cards, and tending to his garden and fruit trees at home, then bestowing his harvest upon family and friends. Sadly, Leo passed away in 2023.

Testimony from Leo’s students

We could have filled the pages of this booklet with praises from his students and colleagues. This is a small sample of those.


Mr. Flo was the only teacher that believed in me and never gave up on me. I could tell him anything and he would listen and give me advice. The day I told him I was dropping out he hugged me and told me don't give up :sob: I never did and I have my diploma . You were a great mentor and friend and I'm going to miss you and your crazy stories. Raziel


Leo Florkowski was one of the reasons why I turned my academic career around. I can hardly remember my first two years at Wood-ward high school. Leo convinced me to get involved and the next two years just flew by. Thank you for pushing me and getting me to believe in myself. I had the confidence a few years later to become an Ohio State Trooper and I successfully retired after 33 years. God bless. J.J. Reyes -



Responses provided by Leo’s wife Colleen Crippen Florkowski


Where did you attend grade school and/or junior high school?  St. Hedwig for Kindergarten - 2nd grade, St. Adelbert 3rd through 8th grade.


In what neighborhood did you live while attending Woodward? Please describe it."Lagrinka", The Polish Village Neighborhood in the North End. Close knit neighborhood. Walked everywhere - to family, friends, church, school, grocery store, meat market, park.


Describe an important thing that happened to you while you were at Woodward.  Leo's Mother passed away one month prior to his Woodward High School graduation. Another memory of former students of Leo was that he gave them all playful nicknames. Leo always encouraged every student to be and do their best. He never made anyone feel less than.


Who were your favorite teachers at Woodward? Why? I'm not sure who Leo's favorite teachers were when he attended Woodward. I do know that over the years wherever we went anywhere in Toledo we would run into Leo's former students. They all remembered him. They all loved him. He was their favorite teacher at Woodward. A memory from the students that has been shared many times was about their favorite project in his Ethnic Studies class. Students had to name their ethnic heritage and research people throughout history that positively and negatively impacted the world. The project helped the students understand that they have something to be proud of and ashamed of, and that all cultures and ethnicities impact each other.


Did any Woodward staff members have a profound effect on you? Who? In what way did they affect you? My husband had many colleagues he counted as friends during his teaching years at Woodward. Michelle Jacob, Marie William-son, Dan Duvendack, Ray & Paulette Attie, Jack Bolduan, Marty Bogue, Bob Heider, Wanda Schick, Becky Banghoff, Susan Nichols, Carolyn Yenrick, Henry Delffs, Roman Kondalski and his wife Lois, Emmy Jakes, Jim Henahan, Mike Kedzierski, Dick Taylor, Pete and Lynn Stoner, Bob Schuster, Joe Stobinski, Becky Au-miller, and lastly, Leonard Letke who worked to introduce Leo to me, his wife of 44 years.


Please share one of your favorite memories of Woodward.

Leo was a Polar Bear all his life. Leo attended Woodward High School. He received "letters" for his participation in Bowling. After Leo graduated from the University of Toledo, he earned his Masters Degree from Eastern Michigan University, and then taught for 37 years at his beloved alma mater, Woodward High School!


Please tell us about your family members-- children, grandchildren, etc.

Wife: Colleen Crippen Florkowski I met Leo in December 1977 on my first teaching assignment after graduating from BGSU. We got engaged just 2 months later, and were married on Sweetest Day, October 21, 1978.We have 3 children: Deirdre is married to Josh, and they are the parents to our wonderful Grandchildren, Noah and Madeline. Leo Michael III, lives and works in Cincinnati. Madonna lives and works in Toledo.


What were Leo’s hobbies? What did he do for fun? Leo's greatest treasures were his 3 children and 2 grandchildren. He loved teaching them about history when they would ask for help on homework assignments. Even more than that Leo delighted in teaching his kids and grandkids about all the fruits and vegetables that he grew in his vast garden. He taught them how to plant and harvest the riches his garden produced through his tender care. He especially loved sitting at the picnic table with the kids shucking peas out of the peapods, or helping tiny hands pick ripe strawberries, blueberries or raspberries and plopping them right into their mouths as they all beamed in delight. His wife, Colleen's favorite harvest was the tender, juicy, peaches and cream sweetcorn. In addition to his garden, Leo loved fishing with friends and family. Summer, fall, winter, and spring. He loved being out on the water in boots, on a boat, or drilling through ice to catch his limit. Walleye, perch, blue gills, and bullheads always made their way to his fishhooks, his expert hands as he used his filet knife, his special seasoning, the deep fryer, and finally our plates to enjoy the catch of the day.


Leo was also an avid mushroom hunter. He was taught by his father, who was taught by his father, and so it goes that Leo even taught his son's boy scout troop how to safely hunt mushrooms. Bushel basketfuls were brought home, meticulously cleaned and parboiled with onions to freeze for eventual consumption at special meals. I can't tell you what woods or what farmer he had permission to hunt mushrooms because that secret is never divulged!


How did you feel when you were informed of this honor? Leo passed on April 25th 2023. Later that spring I received a phone call telling me Leo had been nominated for the Woodward Hall of Fame. I was so pleased that after spending 37 years teaching at his alma mater that he so dearly loved that someone thought to nominate him for this special honor. I wish I knew who it was. I have a couple of guesses, but can't be certain.


While at Woodward, did you have any nicknames? What were they? What is the story behind them? As a teacher, Leo was called Mr. Flo. People always identified Leo by his large mustache. The story behind the mustache is this. Leo was a Cross Country coach for years. Back in those days teachers drove students to their competitions. With a carful of runners Leo's car was hit broadside by someone failing to stop at a stop sign. God was with them. None of the students were seriously injured. The same couldn't be said of Mr. Flo. He had 30 plus stitches in and around his mouth, and had to drink through a straw for some time. Leo grew the mustache to hide the remaining scar around his lip and mouth. So now you know.

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