Carol Pietrykowski, 75, the first woman to serve as vice mayor of Toledo who at her retirement after nearly 18 years as Lucas County clerk of courts was the most prolific vote-getter in modern Toledo politics, died Friday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue.
She had a stroke the week before, said her son, Mark Pietrykowski, a judge of the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals.
Mrs. Pietrykowski, a Democrat, retired from public office -and largely from the public eye - when her fourth complete four-year term as clerk of courts expired at the end of 1992. She was appointed to the job in January, 1975, replacing Robert Kopf, who became a judge of Toledo Municipal Court.
"She kept more of a spectator view of what was taking place in the world and politics," said her son, who previously was a Lucas County commissioner and a member of Toledo City Council.
"I still called on her many, many times for advice and for sage wisdom on issues that would come before me."
When she left office, Mrs. Pietrykowski held the local record for continuous service in office without defeat, dating to her 1961 election to the Toledo Board of Education.
She followed her school board tenure with a decade's service on City Council.
While neither the first woman appointed nor the first woman elected to council, Mrs. Pietrykowski became the first woman to serve as Toledo's vice mayor when her council colleagues elected her to that post in December, 1969. The month before, she won re-election with more than 68,000 votes - more than any other council candidate. Council terms then lasted two years, and in 1971 she amassed more than 84,000 votes and led in every city precinct.
"Carol was a trailblazer. You would never know it because she operated as though it was a natural thing and not something exceptional," said Andy Douglas, a former Ohio Supreme Court justice who served with her on council.
She was nominated as vice mayor by Mayor Harry Kessler, a fellow Democrat with whom she'd had differences.
The nomination was seconded by Mr. Douglas, a Republican.
"She took on some of the most difficult problems that we would jointly have to solve," Mr. Douglas said. "I can't ever remember raising her voice or losing her temper. She was often incisive in her questioning and deliberate in her judgments. I enjoyed serving with her."
Sandy Isenberg, a former council member who became Lucas County's first woman recorder and, later, county commissioner, said: "She opened the door for many young women who were interested in pursuing a career in politics. She was really tough in her own quiet way, and she wielded a lot of power because the Pietrykowski name was so strong."
Mrs. Pietrykowski's husband, John, was a lawyer and U.S magistrate. Her brother-in-law, Francis, was county clerk of courts about eight years and later was a Common Pleas Court judge.
The family name also was familiar through a catchy jingle used in election-season broadcast ads, which spelled the name to song: "P-i-e, t-r-y, k-o-w, s-k-i."
"She really liked what she was doing, and she liked to help people," her son said.
"She was very receptive to calls from the public and was a hard worker.
"She was not a big lady in stature," he said, adding that her father nicknamed her Mighty Mouse "because she never seemed to run out of energy."
She was disappointed when Mr. Kessler, not she, was appointed mayor in 1971 to replace William Ensign, who resigned.
She later considered running for mayor, even after she became clerk of courts, but never did so.
"She, being a realist, continued on and took the course she took," her son said. "She decided that was something behind her."
Mrs. Pietrykowski grew up in the Old West End. She was a graduate of St. Ursula Academy. She received a bachelor of education degree from the former Mary Manse College and later was on the college's board. She taught at St. Catherine School.
She was a former chairman of the Northwest Ohio Solid Waste Management Board.
She and her husband married Sept. 12, 1953. He died Oct. 3, 1993.
Surviving are her sons, Mark, Michael, William, and John Pietrykowski; sisters, Joan Mougey and Ellyn Dekker, and 11 grandchildren.
The body will be in the Coyle Funeral Home after 2 p.m. Tuesday. Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Rosary Cathedral.
The family suggests tributes to the St. Ursula Academy Scholarship Fund or a charity of the donor's choice.