Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Educator built ritual at Union Elementary




Kenneth W. Kwiatkowski, a longtime educator with Maumee City Schools and principal of Union Elementary, died Sunday in Otterbein of Monclova.

Mr. Kwiatkowski, affectionately called “Mr. K” by his students, had gone to live at Otterbein to regain his strength before returning to his Maumee home with his wife, Alberta, son Kevin said. The cause of death was not certain, but he suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, his son said.

Mr. Kwiatkowski at one point considered entering the priesthood and studied two years at Catholic University in Washington before changing his mind and pursuing a teaching career, his son said. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in education from Niagara University in New York in 1953.

He returned to Ohio, teaching a year at New Riegel before going to Bettsville, also in Seneca County, where he taught for seven years. He received a master’s in education from the University of Toledo in 1959 while teaching in Bettsville, his son said.

Mr. Kwiatkowski taught fifth grade for five years at Union before becoming its principal, stepping down in 1989 after 22 years at the helm.

Union School, 102 E. Broadway, was shuttered in 2011 as part of the district’s reconfiguration plan. Built in 1870, the building was one of the oldest functioning schools in Ohio.

Fred Ortner, who taught under Mr. Kwiatkowski from 1968 until 1989, said Mr. Kwiatkowski had a ritual for the graduating elementary students.

All graduating students were allowed to ring the school bell, signaling their transition to another school.

“It was a big deal. The bell was never rung at any other time,” said Mr. Ortner, who retired in 1999 as a full-time teacher, but continues to substitute. “And only the students who were graduating got to ring the bell.”

Mr. Ortner described Mr. Kwiatkowski as a firm believer in discipline.

“He always liked to make sure the children were well-behaved,” Mr. Ortner said.

Mr. Kwiatkowski always had a story to tell his faculty members.

“He loved to tell stories; whether you had time to listen or not, he wanted to tell a story,” he said.

In his free time, Mr. Kwiatkowski liked to work on stained glass, making lamp shades and other decorative items. He also enjoyed woodworking and took painting classes after retirement.

He was a longtime volunteer at the Stranahan Theater, and he worked with children as a volunteer at the former COSI science museum downtown.

He was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus. While his three sons were growing up, he was involved as a scoutmaster for nearly a dozen years.

“He was very busy in the community,” his son said.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Alberta, whom he married Aug. 16, 1958; sons, Kevin, Jack, and Keith; daughter, Ann Stansfield, and seven grandchildren.

Visitation will be 3-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, Maumee. A prayer service will be 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Joseph Catholic Church, Maumee, followed by a funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m.

Memorials are suggested to Catholic Charities or for Alzheimer’s research.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: or 419-724-6050.

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