Andrew F. "Putsy" Toth, a former teacher and coach who was in the Waite High School Athletic Hall of Fame, died Wednesday of a cardiac arrhythmia at St. Luke's Hospital, a family member said. He was 59.
Mr. Toth, a 1964 graduate of Waite High School, gained fame as an end and a placekicker on the football team, earning him the nickname the "Golden Toe." He earned an athletic scholarship at the University of Toledo, where he played football and basketball.
He would become a favorite among the students he coached and taught mathematics and auto mechanics at Woodward High School, starting in 1969.
He also taught at Macomber and Start before returning to Woodward. In 1993, he took a position as the Toledo Public Schools' vocational director of trade and industry.
Mr. Toth held that position until he retired in 1999.
"He was very selfless and always thought of others before he thought of himself," said Elaine Toth, his wife of 34 years.
"He loved being around people and enjoyed being a teacher. He wasn't a couch potato."
Mrs. Toth said they never had children of their own, but teaching provided him with plenty of opportunities to play a strong influence in the lives of the students he taught.
"They were all his children," Mrs. Toth said of her husband's students.
"He was a mentor to many of them. He was like a father because many of the [students] grew up in single-parent homes."
She said Mr. Toth loved sports and developed an enjoyment for drag racing and pool and was involved with both.
Mrs. Toth said he traveled to Las Vegas several times to participate in pool tournaments.
Mr. Toth, though, became paralyzed from a spinal cord injury from a fall at his home in 2003.
Two of his former high school baseball players, Joe Correa, president of ABC Seamless Siding, and Ed Johnson, vice-president of sales for Blako Industries, organized various fund-raisers to help pay for rehabilitation and to purchase Mr. Toth a handicap-accessible van.
"He would go out of his way and do so much for the young kids," Mr. Correa said yesterday. "He was trying to teach them the proper way to do things and the proper attitude. He was just a heck of a guy. Andy meant to me having a positive attitude and if you're going to do something, then do it right. He told me that he would never give up, and I know he didn't."
"I think that speaks volumes of the investment he put into his students," said Ali Stabley, a sister-in-law.
"Some of his students he taught became quite successful and when they heard about this freak accident, they really rallied the troops and raised money anyway they could.
"He wasn't just teaching his students, but he demonstrated it for them as well. He knew the next generation was watching him."
Mr. Toth was inducted into the Waite Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004. Mrs. Toth said her husband was humbled by the honor.
"He's not a bragger at all, but he was very proud to be inducted," Mrs. Toth said. "He didn't feel like he deserved it. but he was very happy with it."
Mr. Toth taught in Toledo Public Schools for 30 years. In the early 1980s, he was an applicant for NASA's "Teacher in Space" program. He was awarded the "Teacher of the Year in Auto Mechanics" honor in the mid-1980s.
Surviving are his wife, Elaine; father, Andrew Toth II; sisters, Lynn Keil, Cindy Laws, and Pam Toth.
Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. today, at Coyle Funeral Home, 1770 South Reynolds Rd. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the mortuary.