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Published: Saturday, 9/6/2008

Students, staff called educator Mr. Wonderful

Robert W. Geis, Jr., 85, whose rapport with students and staff won him the nickname Mr. Wonderful during 23 years at Woodward High School, the last 15 years as an assistant principal, died Wednesday in Whitehouse Country Manor from complications of Alzheimer s disease.

Mr. Geis of Sylvania and formerly of West Toledo was inducted in April into the Woodward High School Hall of Fame.

He retired from Woodward in 1980.

He was my mentor, said Tom Grzywinski, a student of Mr. Geis who retired in 2004 after 30 years as a Woodward teacher. I wanted to be like Bob Geis because he was such a great teacher and had such a great rapport with the kids.

He was a terrific guy, but a disciplinarian, said Mr. Grzywinski. He was energetic and fun and tough, but you came out of there a better person.

As an assistant principal, Mr. Geis oversaw extracurricular activities. He was a regular at football and basketball games and sock hops, school musicals, and ice skating parties, his daughter Debby Schaefer said.

He liked government and social sciences debating politics with son-in-law Jim Schaefer was a favorite activity and taught social studies at Woodward.

For a time, he was principal of summer and night school programs in Toledo Public Schools.

The father of seven often worked extra jobs, at various times selling real estate, encyclopedias, and even popcorn to bars and businesses.

He had a tremendous work ethic, his daughter said.

He was a real estate salesman for about a decade in retirement with the Robert F. Lindsay Co.

Mr. Geis was born in Lima, Ohio, but grew up in West Toledo. He was about 12 when his father, a press room foreman at the former Toledo Times, was killed in an auto accident. At 15, he began to work at the Times, often until 3 a.m., loading papers off the presses.

After his shift, he d go to Central Catholic High School. He was a 1941 graduate.

He attended the former DeSales College in North Toledo, but in 1942 he enlisted in the Navy and served in the South Pacific.

Mr. Geis attended the University of Toledo when he returned. He received bachelor s degrees in science and social science from John Carroll University. He received bachelor s and master s of education degrees from UT.

He taught biology at Whitmer High School and taught in Garden City, Mich. Several times, he made sales his sole occupation.

He kept coming back to education, his daughter said. He loved to educate young people.

Surviving are his wife, Jean, a former psychologist and counselor in the Toledo schools, whom he married Dec. 29, 1951; daughters, Shelley Crossley and Debby Schaefer; sons, Bob, Tom, Jim, and Bill Geis, and 13 grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Joseph Church, Sylvania, where he was a member. Arrangements are by the Walker Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the Whitehouse Country Manor s resident activities fund or to Central Catholic High School.



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