BLISSFIELD - Thomas W. Topolski, a retired music teacher in Ohio and Michigan and an accomplished musician, died in his Blissfield home Monday of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 73.
Mr. Topolski's teaching career spanned 30 years and took him from the small town of Ai in Fulton County to Sylvania, Toledo, and Carleton, Mich.
In Ai, at the start of his career, he taught band and chorus at the former school of the same name before transferring to Stranahan Elementary in Sylvania to teach fourth-grade music.
He then did a music-teaching stint at Monac Elementary in the Washington Local district. After that, he taught elementary-school band in Airport Community Schools in Carleton and served as choral and band director at the high school there.
He retired from public education in 1991, said his wife, Carol, to whom he was married for 49 years, but continued to teach private music lessons.
"He loved music and he loved teaching," Mrs. Topolski explained.
He also taught part-time at parochial schools in Toledo and Swanton and was a substitute teacher in the Blissfield, Sylvania, and Deerfield districts.
At the suggestion of a friend, Mr. Topolski applied for a guard's position at the Toledo Museum of Art and was pleasantly surprised to be hired. He loved his hours in the galleries and took the opportunity to study the paintings. "He was the ultimate student. He never stopped learning," Mrs. Toploski said.
A skilled musician, Mr. Topolski played the flute, the saxophone, and the clarinet. For 30 years, he was in the RK Trio, which played at weddings and dances. He and his wife-to-be met in 1958 at the University of Toledo, where both were music majors.
"I heard someone playing scales and arpeggios and went into the room to ask him to hold it down," Mrs. Topolski said.
The attraction was mutual and instant the moment they saw each other. She said she never got around to asking him to play more quietly. Their love of music was a constant throughout their marriage. She was a keyboardist and they often played together at home.
Mr. Topolski was born in Toledo, the youngest of Maryanna and Frank Topolski's five children. He graduated from St. Teresa School and the former Macomber High School.
At UT, he earned a bachelor's degree in music, a master's in education, and an educational specialist's degree.
Surviving are his wife, Carol; daughters, Amy Peterson and MaryBeth Topolski; sons, Richard and Alan; sister, Mary Francis Kozlowski, and nine grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in Memorial Lutheran Church, Toledo, where the body will be an hour earlier.
The family requests tributes to the church or Hospice of Lenawee.