Jewell W. Waters, 61, who played on Libbey High School s 1966 state runner-up basketball team and who returned to his alma mater 20 years later as a math teacher, died Sunday in his West Toledo home.
He learned he had cancer last August and did not teach in the 2008-09 school year, said his fiancee, Laura Lykowski. The couple were together 20 years.
I referred to him as my spousal equivalent, she said. They received a marriage license June 4 but had not married when Mr. Waters died.
He began teaching in the Detroit Public Schools but came home to Libbey in 1986. He also was a boys freshmen basketball coach for a time.
He was well respected as a teacher, said Pat Lewinski, a Libbey math teacher when they met and now principal leader of the Libbey Humanities Academy Small School. We at Libbey always took pride that we had quite a few teachers who were Libbey graduates. That speaks of what they think of their high school years. He had a chance to go elsewhere, but he chose to stay there and work with the kids.
Ms. Lykowski said he believed it important that, as an African American man, he remain.
He came up and became very respected, and he wanted to give that back to the students, Ms. Lykowski said. Jewell dressed in dress slacks, dress shirt, tie, every day. He was professional.
He was a senior on the 1966 basketball team that was 26-1 when it faced undefeated Dayton Chaminade in the state championship game. Libbey led by 15 points with one quarter left. The lead was down to 3 points with 3:34 to go, and the teams were tied with a minute left. The final was 55-52, Dayton Chaminade.
The 1966 Libbey team was special, Mr. Waters told The Blade in 2000. People are still talking about us, he said then.
Ms. Lykowski believes the loss helped team members navigate life s adversities.
It set them off in the right direction, she said. It was a good life learning experience. They all went into good fields.
Mr. Waters received a bachelor s degree from Central State University.
Besides Ms. Lykowski and her son, Andrew, surviving Mr. Waters are his son, Eric; brother, Michael Waters, and sisters, Joyce McFadden, Myra Waters, and Corine Allen.
Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the W.K. Sujkowski & Son Funeral Home, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today.
The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.