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Published: Sunday, 5/25/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

Steven G. Sirotnyak; 1939-2014: Counselor picked central city schools, felt he made ‘a dent’

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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Steven G. Sirotnyak, a teacher, counselor, and community college administrator who opened and closed his career in Toledo Public Schools, died Thursday in Toledo Hospital. He was 74.

He developed complications during a lung biopsy, his wife, Ann, said.

Mr. Sirotnyak of Sylvania Township continued to hold an active state license as a supervising professional counselor. He retired in the mid-1990s from the Toledo Public Schools after nearly two decades as a counselor. Assignments included Jones and East Toledo junior high schools.

“He always took the inner city schools. He preferred the inner city schools,” said his wife, who was a school nurse. “He felt he was making a dent and he was doing something good.”

He could communicate with Spanish-speaking parents, his wife said, and he knew a smattering of languages besides, having grown up in the Hungarian-American community of Birmingham in multi-ethnic East Toledo.

“He grew up in a neighborhood, and he understood what things were about,” his wife said.

His son Steve added: “He could see a lot what these kids were going through from a bunch of different perspectives.”

Mr. Sirotnyak had bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Toledo and had studied at the University of Michigan and Ohio State University (he professed neutrality in the schools’ annual football showdown). He taught at Oakdale School in East Toledo for several years. He later was a financial aid officer for about eight years at Monroe County Community College.

He was born June 2, 1939, to Elizabeth and Stephen Szirotnyak and grew up on Bakewell Street. He played baseball at Waite High School and graduated in 1956, just before his 17th birthday.

He joined the Army and served stateside as a combat medical corpsman.

A variety of jobs supplanted his profession. He was employed at the former Gulf Oil facility in East Toledo and American Shipbuilding Co. and held a merchant mariner’s Z-card, which allowed him to work aboard vessels. He studied Great Lakes history, built model ships from scratch, and appreciated swing-era jazz.

“He was a combination of a friend of the arts and a friend of the working man,” his son said. “He was always cognizant of what it was like in the ’30s to get fair treatment for an honest day’s work.”

He’d been a member of Theta Chi Fraternity at UT and Phi Alpha Theta, a history honor society.

He was formerly married to Carol Sirotnyak.

Surviving are his wife, Ann Sirotnyak, whom he married June 20, 1980; sons Steve Szirotnyak and Michael and Andrew Sirotnyak; daughter, Amy Gordon; stepson, Michael Sutton, and five grandchildren.

Visitation is 4-7 p.m. Tuesday in Dowling Funeral Home, Sylvania Township. Services will be private.

The family suggests tributes to Helping Hands of St. Louis in East Toledo or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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